Printers  

General
Printers that produce photo-realistic images have 4 or 6 different ink colors, some with separate black ink cartridges. Resolutions vary from 300 to 2400 dpi, a cluster of these printer ink dots are required to produce a single pixel of a given color. More on Printer Ink Dot comparisons. For best printing quality, the source should be approximately 300 dpi. Multiply the print size by the dpi to determine how large a source image you need. For example, a 4x6 needs 6 x 300 dpi or 1800 pixels across. Smaller source images will make your printouts less sharp. The ink and paper you use make a huge difference in the quality and longevity of output.

Saving Money
You can buy ink cartridge refill kits that are much cheaper than buying the real thing. Check to see what your dealer/manufacturer has to say about using refill kits, it may cause warrantee and servicing problems.

Multiple Images
Printing multiple photos on a single 8.5 x 11 page can reduce costs, as good photographic-quality paper is expensive. You can arrange the images on a large work area yourself using an image editor, or use a program designed for that purpose. There are a number to choose from including HP Photo Finishing (free) and Photo Paper Saver (shareware), which is reviewed at Feather River Canyon News.

Printing Low Resolution Images
Expanding a small image before printing can sometimes improve the printout results. Another option is the PhotoShop plugin Genuine Fractals which expands an image using Fractal mathematics.

Preservation
Printouts are more delicate than photographic prints. To extend their life, Krylon Artist's Workable Fixatif is recommended to seal and protect your printouts. Using Acrylic instead of glass for framed photos will reduce fading due to UV Rays.

Selection
Nearly all of today's printers produce excellent results, take a file and give them a test drive to judge for yourself. A good test image would be a portrait taken outdoors with blue sky in the background.

Reviews
ZDNet Printers Guide (reviews)
About.com Inkjet Printers
About.com Printers

Testing
ZDNet Test your own printer online
Kodak Test your printer with these high resolution sample images
Luminous Landscape Testing an Epson printer with various paper and inks
Ted's Inkjet Fade Test Various papers are tested for fading (HP 722c)
Wilhelm Imaging Research Life of displayed ink-jet and photographic prints

Software
Genuine Fractals PhotoShop plugin to produce higher quality printouts
Photo Paper Saver Shareware program to print multiple pictures on a single page
QImage Pro 3.1 $30 program to print multiple pictures on a single page
Poster Software $16 shareware that prints designs and photos on multiple pages

Products and Services
PrintRoom Inexpensive prints from files via Internet Review
Mystic Color Lab Printing service
Lightroom Ilfochrome (prints directly from slides) and digital printing services
EverColor Fine Art scanning, printing, laminating and mounting services
Xyron Laminating machine
Luminos Special ink and paper supplier
The Stock Solution Ink, paper and archival sprays
Marrutt Lyson long-life (25-30 years) inks and media
Friskars Paper Cutters

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