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.

Check out Peter Burian's online Digital Photography course at BetterPhoto!

About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Peter K. Burian
Photography Instructor: Peter K. BurianPeter K. Burian, Photo Journal Syndicate (, is a freelance photographer based in Toronto, Canada. His outdoor, travel, nature and active lifestyle photographs are available as stock for editorial and advertising use. He markets his work direct to photo buyers via and is also represented by three stock agencies: Corbis, Alamy and The Stock Connection.

Peter Burian also writes illustrated books about photography and camera equipment, including:

  • Co-author of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide.
  • Author of 15 Magic Lantern Guides to SLR camera systems.
  • Author of Mastering Digital Photography and Imaging (Sybex), covering the technology, equipment and techniques, with 270 pages of practical advice
In his spare time, he is a Contributing Editor with Photo Life, Photo News and Australian photography magazine. Finally, Peter Burian is a course instructor who teaches two online photography courses: Mastering the Digital Camera and Photography and Mastering the Canon EOS Digital Rebels. Sign up today to learn how to make great photos with your digital camera!