About Photo Printers

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About Photo Printers

If you plan to print the pictures you shoot with your digital camera, it's worth the extra few dollars to buy a photo printer. Determining which printers you look at are photo printers is usually pretty easy: the manufacturers usually put the word “photo” in the product's name or description.

Most photo printers are of the inkjet variety – the predominant consumer printing technology. Photo printers often print with smaller “dots” – the droplets of ink that help give inkjet s their name – than plain text printers. And many come with more colors of ink. High-end inkjet photo printers from some manufacturers now come with eight or nine colors of ink.

Color laser printers are also available, though they're much more expensive than many inkjets. A third type of printer is the dye sublimation printer, which uses heat to transfer dyes directly onto the media (paper).

If you print mostly 4” x 6” prints and durability and color are very important to you, consider a dye sublimation printer. Dye sub photo printers use thermal transfer technology to produce prints with a range of colors that's impossible for inkjet printers to match. Three colors are transferred separately to the paper from a plastic film. Temperature variations are used to produce up to 256 shades of each color. Finally a protective laminate layer overlays the entire print.

Dye sublimation technology has two drawbacks, though. First, you can't reasonably use a dye sub photo printer for text, as you could an inkjet photo printer. And, second, the majority of available dye sub printers make prints no larger than 4” x 6”. A few also produce 6” x 8” prints.



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