Aug 09 2008

Why My Photo Quality Printer Gathers Dust

Published by at 6:40 am under Equipment

I have a photo quality ink jet printer that can print very good colour photos, up to 8×10, on photo style paper. I was intrigued when a number of well known retailers started offering to print digital photos for less than it costs me for the paper alone.

So, I ordered a group of 4×6 prints from one of them, by uploading the files to their website. If a store that does this is convenient to you, you can pick them up. If not, they will ship them for a small extra charge.

I ordered mine on a Tuesday, after supper, and they were delivered via regular mail that same Friday. I was impressed. That same store now has a walk-in 1 hour service for the same price.

To test the effect of extra pixels, I sent them the same photo 6 times. The only difference in the photos was the resolution:

– 150 dpi (600 pixels x 900 pixels)

– 200 dpi (800 x 1200)

– 250 dpi (1000 x 1500)

– 300 dpi (1200 x 1800)

– 350 dpi (1400 x 2100)

– 400 dpi (1600 x 2400)

The photo was a picture of a couple I know. One of them had highlights in their hair, and gel had been used, so hair was sticking out somewhat. When I looked very closely at the photos (naked eye only, no magnifiers) at fine details like the hair, I could detect a minor difference between the 150 dpi and the 400 dpi, (actually, there was even a bit of a difference noted between 150 and 200) but if the photos are destined for your photo album, you would never know the difference, in my opinion. I normally use either 200 dpi or 250 dpi.

On a 4×6, lets say you go with 200 dpi. That is 800 pixels by 1200 pixels. That is about 1 mega pixel. If you go to your local digital camera reseller today, you probably cannot buy a serious camera that is less than 6 mega pixels. A 6 mega pixel camera gives you about 2100 x 2800, which at 200 dpi lets you print a 10.5 x 14 print (most stores have 11×14 in their product offering). At 150 dpi, you can get an 12 x 18 easily from a 6 mp. (p.s. the store I used will NOT print anything less than 150 dpi). At my local store, a 12×18 was $11 Canadian in August 2008. My printer cannot even print that size. For a 4×6 they want 19 cents.

Based on my tests, a 6 mega pixel camera can print a great quality 8 x 10 print, which at 250 dpi needs 2000 x 2500 pixels. If you just need 4 x 6 prints, you will get great prints from even an ancient 1 mega pixel. Need I remind you that the current pricing is less than I pay for the paper alone.

Do I use my fancy photo quality printer anymore? Not very often.

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