How to Select the Right Inkjet Photo Printer

by Peter K. Burian

Features to Consider in an Inkjet Photo Printer

Thereís no simple method for identifying the ideal inkjet photo printer, because that depends on individual budgets, preferences, and printing plans. However, if youíre considering a letter-size inkjet photo printer that will make beautiful photo prints, look for one with the following features:

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A resolution of 1440dpi. Much higher resolution capabilities are available. However, the difference between a print made at 1440dpi and another made at 2880dpi is noticeable only by a critical observer.

Six ink colors, preferably in individual tanks. Four color printers simply cannot reproduce an adequately wide range of subtle hues and tones. Individual ink tanks are ideal because you can replace only the tank that runs out. In the long run, thatís more economical than buying a large cartridge that includes three or six ink colors.

An ink droplet size of 4 picoliters, or preferably smaller if youíre a perfectionist or make very large prints. Some machines generate droplets as small as 1.5 picoliters. (A picoliter is a millionth of a liter.) Smaller droplets offer several benefits: more subtle the gradations of color, more detail in the print and a smoother overall appearance.

A lightfast or print permanence rating of 25 or more years. Such ratings refer to the life of a print (framed, matted and displayed under glass) before significant fading becomes noticeable. The latest Canon Pixma, Epson Stylus Photo,and HP Photosmart printers all meet or exceed the 25 year rating when using the printer makersí premium or pro grade photo papers. For more information on permanence issues, visit the Web site.

Hint: The quickest way to compare the specifications for several machines of several brands is on a photo retailerís Web site. Also read test reports in photographic magazines or on the Web. Such Reviews can be invaluable in identifying machines that will meet your expectations.

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Article by Peter K. Burian. To learn more about photography, explore the many online photography and Photoshop classes offered here at