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Printers - Photo Printers
If you are considering a photo printer to print pictures to frame, scrapbook, or place in a family album, you want a printer that offers lab quality prints.

Photo printers can be placed in two categories: inkjet and dedicated photo printers. Read on to learn how each printer works and what features photo printers offer.

How Inkjet Photo Printers Work
When a picture is sent to be printed, the paper is fed through the printer. When the paper is positioned, the print head begins to move across the page spraying drops of ink onto the paper, to create the image. After each section is complete, the paper is moved forward to continue until the picture is printed.

To read how each part of an inkjet printer works,
click here.

What is a Dedicated Photo Printer
Dedicated photo printers are just for that--printing photographs. Most of these printers are dye sublimation printers which uses thermal dye technology. Thermal dye technology works differently than inkjet technology, melting the dye from a ribbon rather than laying down the colors as individual dots. Since the dye is melted onto the paper, it gives your pictures a more natural appearance.

How Dye Sublimation Printers Work
Dye sublimation printers use a cellophane roll with a section for cyan, magenta, yellow, black, and a clear overcoat. When you send a picture to be printed, the paper and film passes through heated print heads. The dye vaporizes and saturates the paperís surface. Once it hits the paper, it returns to its solid form. The print head heats at various temperatures because the hotter the print head the more ink is release. This allows for various shades of a color to be placed on each other.

Buying Guide
  • Immediate Pictures
  • Vibrant colors (high quality color)
  • Ability to print directly from camera or memory card
  • Some printers are designed for just printing pictures. You'll need a separate printer for text.
  • More Expensive (higher end models)
  • Slow
Price Range
  • $80-500
  • Speed

  • Most photo printers are made for printing photos so the manufacturers donít put much emphasis on speed. The focus of these printers is the color quality of each print.

  • Paper Size

  • You might be limited to what size a pictures you can print with dedicated photo printers because most offer a maximum printing size of 4x6. Very few can print 5x7 or panoramas (4x12)

  • Ink Cartridges

  • Most photo printers you will find are inkjet printers with six color cartridges (as opposed to the normal four colors). The more colors a printer uses the better quality photos it will produce. When looking for a photo inkjet printer, you should keep in mind that four color inks can print excellent photos.

    For printing black and white photos, look for a printer with various options for black ink or offers grey inks. They black and grey ink help produce shading easier, making the output quality of black and white photos better.

  • Connection Ability

  • Most printers connect to your computer by a USB cable. But photo printers can use PictBridge technology, which allows you to connect your digital camera directly to the printer. Other printers have memory card slots built on the printer but make sure the printer can support the memory card you use.

  • Added Features

  • LCD and a front panel menu allow you to view, edit, and print photos without using your computer. Some photo printers might include image editing software.