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Photography QnA: Printing Digital Pictures

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Category: All About Photography : Digital Photographic Discussions - Imaging Basics : Printing Digital Pictures

Find the best rated printer for printing digital pictures or find tips for making your digital pictures print out better in this Q&A.

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Photography Question 
John Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 8/8/2001
  91 .  Has Anyone Compared Epson and Canon Printers?
I want to buy a color printer that will produce archival images, yet serve as a text printer. All of the literature I've read focuses on image quality to the degree that it's unclear whether the unit can be used for text printing.

Also, there are a lot of commercial photo shops using Epson printers. However, the promo prints from the new Canon S600 and S800 [on high print quality paper, not photo paper] seem as good or better. Any experiences with these units would be appreciated.

8/20/2001 8:51:41 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  Inkjet printers these days all give decent text quality, especially the major brands you mentioned. If you run a business, an office, or are an educator who needs a lot of high quality text printing, get a laser printer for that purpose. Otherwise, your Epson or Canon will serve you well enough. The current Consumer Reports has an article comparing printers.

I bought an Epson 870, partly based on a promo print. Although I am thoroughly satisfied with the Epson, I cannot reproduce the print quality of the promo print in the 8 x 10 they showed. This is probably because I can't scan 35mm at the resolution needed for 480 ppi going into the printer to get 2880 dpi output. The companies aren't lying to us; the promo print WAS done on their printer. The digital image being printed, however, may not have been prepared with equipment easily affordable for you and me.

8/21/2001 9:13:00 AM

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Photography Question 
Richard Ujhely

member since: 7/24/2001
  92 .  Consistently Quality with Digital Printing
An answerer responded to a question regarding the calibration of the monitor and the printer by pretty much saying read the manual. I am a complete novice with digital photography. I have a Dell monitor, Epson 1280 printer and Adobe Photoshop. I honestly have tried to figure out all three manuals but they seem always say it depends based on software or hardware. A couple magazines have offered articles offering assistance have helped, but I haven't been able to obtain consistent printing quality. Can you provide some specific steps or perhaps just additional insight as to what tools could I use to get better consistent quality of images?

7/24/2001 5:15:24 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  By quality I presume you mean color matching. There really is no easy path on this. I'm not that familiar with the Epson printers. There should be some method for adjusting the color balancing in printing through the printer drivers to what you create with Adobe Photoshop. It's a matter of calibrating this to your monitor, and trying some experiments to adjust the colors.

I would start first with each of the three primaries (red, green and blue, or their negatives of cyan, magenta and yellow) and adjust them first so that your printer produces what you see on the monitor screen. All other colors are some combination of them. You should look for adjusting how the "halftoning" is accomplished (how colors are produced with 3 color inks; there are different algorithms for the dithering), adjusting intensity, and color matching. Also, read up about file resolution and print resolution for halftone printing.

See also the Epson FAQ on their Web site.

Look for the heading: "Problems Getting Good Print Quality" and the Q&A under it.

-- John

7/29/2001 4:17:13 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  A web site called (no @, no .com) is out of Singapore (try here if first link doesn't work). These people are fervent Epson users. Look for articles by Ian Lyons, a British Epson fan. He has an article for your particular version of Photoshop (5, 5.5, and 6.0) that tells you exactly which settings to use. I had the same problems, but be persistent. Use the Adobe gamma in Photoshop to calibrate your monitor. It will be pretty close. Also, I've had muddy prints when I don't make sure a white area of my image is truly white.

7/30/2001 9:06:27 AM

Joseph Rezek

member since: 4/1/2001
  I suggest looking at the information and the reviews regarding ColorVision equipment, particularly the RGB Suites which calibrate the monitor and can prepare adequate profiles for the printer-paper combination. All this runs at a price, the suite for starters like you and me is about $365, so it can be quite a consideration, but the program seems to be highly recommended. I understand that at the present time, the monitors it can calibrate are the CRT class; perhaps this info may now be incorrect, so I suggest you check if interested. Enjoy.

8/2/2001 10:27:53 AM

Lynette Anderson

member since: 1/11/2002
  Hello, I have been taking digital pics for about a year. I'm not sure what you mean by quality but when I have to adjust colors, I go to Photoshop and adjust red, blues, and greens. When I have to adjust brightness and contrast, I do that in curves because it doesn't adjust the whole picture, only the face of hair or what ever you need adjusted. When I want to clear the complexion, I go to Photoshop Business Edition and do all of my complexion work. And when I'm finished and ready to fine tune, I go to Picture It and sharpen. This is how I achieve beautiful pics. If you just have Photoshop, you can adjust the softness of the skin and achieve a clearer complexion. I have an HP 500 printer/scanner, I use Kodak Ultima, Printasia, and Kodak premium photo papers.

Oh another thing you could do is go to the Help and ask your questions about the programs. I also did that. You really have to just play with the program and experiment.

Always save your original as the original (master) and save it as a copy and then play with the copy. That is how I learned and I take very good pics.

When you save as JPEG, save them in the highest compression - I save mine in a 10.

2/25/2002 11:18:33 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
Owner,, Inc.
  Lynette has many good suggestions above. I would first look into the JPEG thing - that could very well be the cause of your image quality problems.

I do want to correct one point, though. Curves does not adjust only one area of an image, unless you previously select that particular area with a selection tool. It is, all the same, my preferred way to correct color problems.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Photoshop®, I suggest that you take my online course, Photoshop for Photographers.

3/26/2002 1:13:42 PM

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Photography Question 

member since: 7/17/2001
  93 .  Equipment to Scan and Print
I'm a keen amateur with about 30 years of slides, prints, negatives (mostly 35mm), etc. Thousands of images in all sorts of film but mainly Kodak. Old prints include hand-me-downs from generations but also prints in glossy and matte, different sizes, and so on.

I want to organise it to archive most of it and to print some of it for albums for my kids. I want to ultimately make most of the prints 6 X 4s.

Here are the questions:

1. What's the best way to scan these? I've been thinking about the HP S20 but I note in the specs that it only scans to 300 dpi optical for prints but 2400 for slides and negatives. Is the 300 dpi enough for printing. What does the optical mean?

2. What printer should I use? (I've never used a colour printer before.) What advantage does the HP Photosmart printer have over a colour deskjet? I've got brochures on Photosmart 1000, 1215, and 1218, but I can't evaluate the important differences (other than price).

3. To put prints into an album and protected with cellophane, is photopaper necessary or would a good quality paper be OK?

I hope someone can assist.



7/17/2001 12:57:30 AM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
The HP S20 is the only film scanner I know of that will scan prints (up to 4 x 6) as well as negatives and slides. 300 pixels per inch is fine for prints, unless you want to greatly enlarge them. can tell you more about the resolution for scanning for different purposes. I'd scan the slides and negatives at the full 2400 ppi.

A scanner's (or digital camera's) optical resolution is the true resolution that's being scanned. Anything else is interpolated resolution, in which the software adds pixels to fake a higher resolution. The HP scans a true 2400 ppi for film.

Try the color deskjet with the company's best photo grade paper, and see if the result is acceptable. HP and Epson, maybe others as well, make excellent photo quality inkjet printers. See for a review of a Photosmart printer. See for information on the Epsons. The Epson 870 can be had from Epson's web site at an amazing $150. I can attest to the quality of their prints. Always use the manufacturer's best paper. Epson has a glossy and a matte finish. It's amazing how many retailers try to sell printers based on how they print on typing paper.

Nikon's film scanners have an edge over HP in terms of shadow detail with dense slides, but the Nikon won't scan a print, as does the HP. I'm pickier than most people. Many people find the HP's performance just fine. can tell you more. HP's product support is exemplary, as is Nikon's.

7/17/2001 9:18:37 AM


member since: 7/17/2001
  Wow, Doug. Such a quick response and so helpful. Your answers have helped me heaps. I will take an image to the merchants and get them to try out different printers for me, using photo quality paper.



7/17/2001 10:23:55 PM

William Snyder

member since: 11/11/2000
  I would go with a Nikon film scanner such as LS2000 and, if you can afford it, buy a seperate flatbed scanner for the prints. You will want more than 300ppi if you are going to enlarge the prints at all. I had a hp s20 and it was ok for a while, I have since upgraded to a Nikon and I am much happier with my final print output. The hp 990 is an excellent photo printer. Good luck

7/26/2001 4:06:08 PM

Johnathan R. Peal

member since: 3/11/2002
  I use the HP Photosmart 1315 printer and I would highly recommend this printer. It accepts Compact Flash Cards, Smart Media, Memory stick and IBM Microdrive right on the printer. It has it's own LCD display so that you don't need a computer to size, print and do some basic editing/color correction etc... directly from the printer. It has a tray for 4X6 paper which is nice. You can also use the memory slots to download pics to your computer from the printer. The quality of the photo's on either HP or even Epson glossy photo paper is awesome. I cannot tell the difference from studio developed prints. HP recommends HP paper for best results. It comes with great software that easily lets you size your photos and print them out. It also comes with ACDSee software which is really nice for color correction and basic editing. I use the supplied software and Adobe PhotoDeluxe for advanced editing, brushes, etc. It's a bit pricey but worth every penny $399.00 retail I believe. Hope this helps.

3/12/2002 8:55:50 PM


member since: 7/17/2001
  Thanks Johnathan,

As it happens, I've made my choices and bought a Nikon Cooscan ED IV which I'm very pleased with. I also got an Epson 895 printer and it is superb, although thirsty for ink. I've decided to use it mainly to check printed colour and "one-off" prints. Part of the reason is cost and experience but also, the only paper I can get here (Singapore) is sized A$ which cuts into four 4.15" X 5.85" prints. It's a fag deciding on the relative dimensions of the print before scanning.

What I do now is scan my images for 6 x 4 and burn them onto a CD. I usually make two scans - one for printing and one for the monitor. I know I can resize the TIFF image to JPEG but I seem to get a smaller file at adequate resolution when I rescan.

Thanks for your thoughts.


3/12/2002 9:04:06 PM

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Photography Question 
Roland Towey

member since: 5/28/2001
  94 .  Altering Printer Settings
I have a Epson 460. Although not a true photo printer, it is capable of prints which are acceptable for some aplications. The problem I am experiencing is that the finished prints are a lot darker than that viewed on monitor. How do I colour correct this printer? Any suggestions will be greatfully recieved
regards Roland.

6/4/2001 6:42:40 PM

Ken Pang

member since: 7/8/2000

In most photo editing prgrams, you have a setting called "Brightness" What you can do is get a photo, print it, and save the print. Mark it as zero.

Print it again, this time with the brightness up 10%. Mark this 1. Repeat until you are happy with the colour of the photo, then note the percentage brightness correction. In the future, you should be able to consistently increase the brightness by that much and it should be immediately correct without you messing around with settings.

The alternative is that some printers might have a "saturation" on it, or even a "brightness" setting. Though since you said that it was not a true photo printer, I doubt that it would. Have a look under your printer settings anyway.


6/15/2001 3:17:39 AM

Jim Miotke
BetterPhoto Member
Owner,, Inc.

I have also noticed that images get much more saturated with ink (and thus darker) when I use plain paper. Try using Epson Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper or another such paper and see if this helps.

7/18/2001 2:06:05 PM

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