- What is a photo printer?
- Injekt printers and dye-sublimation
- Image quality
- Cartridges and paper
- Photo printer terminology
- Features and software to look out for
What is a photo printer?
The concept of a desktop photo printer really emerged once digital camera became a mass-market phenomenon. Naturally, people wanted to print out their digital snaps, especially after cropping, resizing and retouching the images on a PC.
While home desktop printers had been able to print colour images for more than a decade, they did not offer the quality to rival photo prints produced from film.
A photo printer is designed to primarily produce high-quality prints of digital photos (to fully replicate the look and feel of a conventional photo, you'll also need to use special photo paper). Depending on the technology used, it may also be able to serve as a general purpose printer.
Some photo printers are designed primarily for use without a computer, allowing you to print directly from the camera or a memory card. These may feature LCD screens to help with the task of selecting and editing photos before printing. Such models are often compact and portable, but aren't useful for anything other than photos.
Typical photo printers for home use are priced between $300 and $600, although models designed to output images at A3 size or larger can cost $1000 or more. As in every field of consumer electronics, prices change rapidly (generally downwards) and you can score significant discounts by shopping around.
The economics of dedicated photo printers require careful consideration. While the printers themselves can be relatively inexpensive, consumables such as ink and paper are expensive enough that the overall price per print may well be higher than the cost of getting your digital photos printed by a local photography store. However, having your own printer offers unrivalled convenience and makes it easy to quickly run off copies instantly, any time you like.