CAMP 400 (29/11/05)
Pictures on your PC, part 6
though digital cameras encourage us to process, store and display our images on
PCs the traditional photographic print is far from dead. This week we’ll round
off the series with a look at some of the ways digital images can be printed on
paper, and other items…
might well ask why prints are still necessary in the age of digital photography
but when it comes to showing and sharing your pictures you still can’t beat a
set of prints or a photo album. Prints are portable, you don’t need a computer
screen to display them and they are not subject to the vagaries and
uncertainties of technical standards, formats and computer crashes.
are basically two ways to make a print from a digital image. You can either do
it yourself at home on a photo printer or pay someone to do it for you. The
latter can be through a high-street lab or camera shop, automated machines and
kiosks, by post or through an Internet processing service but we’ll begin with
the DIY option.
quality inkjet printers are not expensive -- prices start at less than £50 --
and the results can be excellent. Although the low selling price of most
printers is usually reflected in the cost of the manufacturer’s branded
consumables, even so the actual cost per print can be comparable with and in
some instances lower than commercial photo printing services. You have complete
control over the final image, there’s no waiting and there’s the option to
print on specialist media, like iron-on transfers, labels and business cards.
new photo printers are designed specifically for digital camera operation. Some
models bypass the need for a PC altogether by connecting directly to the camera
through a cable, purpose-designed cradle or they are equipped with memory card readers. Several
recent models now support a Wi-Fi
or Bluetooth wireless
connections, though this facility has to be built into the camera.
advantages of a PC-less setup are speed and convenience but the downside is
there’s no usually provision to store the images and the editing options tend
to be quite limited -- usually confined to cropping and basic picture
adjustments. Dedicated camera printers are also more expensive to buy and run
than normal PC printers, most compact models use the costlier dye sublimation
process and employ extra circuitry and an LCD screen to display the image.
cost of consumables for all types of printers varies significantly so check the
prices. Bear in mind also that models that use an all-in-one colour cartridge
can be dearer to run than models that use separate colour ink tanks as quite
often one colour will run out before the other colours are exhausted.
speaking the best results are obtained using the manufacturer’s recommended
photo paper and ink or film cartridges. On some models it is possible to save
money using third-party ‘compatible’ cartridges or refilling kits and cheaper
brands of paper, sometimes without sacrificing quality, but it can be a bit hit
and miss. Compatible cartridges may use inferior inks that can clog the printer
head and you run the risk of voiding the printer manufacturer’s warranty. Paper
quality also varies tremendously, though price isn’t always a reliable guide
and some inexpensive papers work really well so it is worth experimenting.
Another point to bear in mind is that photo prints, like ordinary photographs
fade over time and when exposed to strong sunlight. The speed at which they
degrade can vary from a few months to several decades, so check manufacturer’s
claims and specialist magazine reviews.
digital photo printing got off to a fairly slow start but now there’s a huge
range of options and prices are really competitive, so shop around. Many camera
shops have in-store facilities offering a while-you-wait service and there is
usually staff on hand to help you with simple editing operations. The printers
used are mostly professional types using advanced inkjet or dye sublimation
processes and the results can be indistinguishable from photographic prints. Many
camera shops and high-street photo processors also offer a range of extra
services, from enlargements and tee shirt printing to recording your images on
printing machines are popping up all over the place but they’re still quite
pricey and if the machines are poorly maintained it may be difficult to seek
redress. Nevertheless they are a quick and convenient way of getting a picture
out of your camera or memory card onto paper.
film processing companies have also moved into the digital printing market in a
big way and they tend to be cheaper than the high street but in addition to the
wait there is the risk of your memory card in the post. However, most of these
companies now offer an Internet printing service, simply upload your images to
a web site and the finished photos, produced on pro quality printers, are sent
to you by post within a day or two. See also this week’s Top Tip.
WEEK -- Installing a new PC
Printer ink and toner
cartridges, paper etc., which needs to be replaced when it runs out or exceed
printing process, similar to a fax machine, using colour films bonded to
specially coated paper
printing paper and inks for transferring images onto fabric and garments
On line processing web
sites are mostly very easy to use, though uploading a large number of image
files can be quite time-consuming, even on a fast broadband connection. As an
added bonus your images will usually be stored indefinitely on the website,
making it easier to order reprints and enlargements and novelty items like
tee-shirts, photo mugs, jigsaws, greeting cards and so on.
See below for a
selection of companies and don’t forget there’s plenty more hints and tips in
the Archive at: www.rickmaybury.com
Maybury 2005, 2311