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How to print digital photos at home?

Tips for printing digital photos at home

It's easy to capture and preserve memories as digital snapshots, and so is turning them into stunning scrapbooks or photo albums.

If you'd like to create professional-looking photo prints using a home PC, here are a few hints and tips that will help you produce sharper, more eye-catching results.

Photograph of red poppies in bloom

A little care is all it takes to turn photos into gorgeous prints.

Maximize image quality

The best prints come from the finest images. Help improve picture quality by following these suggestions:

1. Increase photo resolution

As a rule, the higher the resolution, the better the picture. Most digital cameras offer a choice of settings. Check your camera's instructions to figure out how to change the resolutions you're using. For premium printing results, always select the maximum offered photo size and quality.

Here are some good resolution guidelines to consider:

  • 2 megapixels: Appropriate for an attractive wallet-sized (2.5-by-3.5-inch) or album-sized (4-by-6-inch) print

  • 3 megapixels: Minimum resolution required for projects like calendars and greeting cards or 5-by-7-inch reproductions

  • 5 or 6 megapixels: A resolution that offers better image quality for use with craft projects. Also suitable for printing and framing an 11-by-14-inch photo for use around the home

  • 8 megapixels: A resolution that's capable of providing attractive 16-by-20-inch prints

  • 10 megapixels or more: Optimal for printing larger (20-by-30-inch) projects, including posters and panoramas

The more you increase photo resolution, the more you'll improve image clarity and detail.

Higher image resolutions (left) produce sharper snapshots.

Higher image resolutions (left) produce sharper snapshots.

2. Choose the correct file format

The JPEG file format, which compresses image data, is suitable for emailing pictures or posting them to the web. For photo-printing purposes though, it generally pays to stick with larger TIFF files. Despite consuming more space on a memory card, TIFF images are smoother, crisper, and vastly superior to their JPEG counterparts.

3. Edit and enhance images

Use programs such as Windows Live Photo Gallery (Window 7) to soften edges, experiment with lighting and color, remove blemishes from pictures, and Edit your photos. It's a simple way to add special effects, get rid of red eye, and otherwise improve your snapshots. Read more articles about how to make simple fixes to your digital photos, take better pictures, capture the perfect moment, and create online photo albums.


Pick the right paper and ink

Help improve photo prints by selecting the right choice of paper and ink to perfectly complement your images.

1. Go with photo paper

Standard printer paper isn't suitable for creating pleasing photo prints. Unless you're printing documents, choose a glossy or matte finish photo paper instead. Black and white prints generally look best on matte finish papers, and color tends to look best on glossy paper.

2. Creativity counts

Multiple varieties of paper stock are available, designed for a wide range of specialty uses. These special-purpose materials can enhance any photo printing project. Whether incorporating your photos into decals, business cards, or T-shirts, before starting a new project, browse the selection at your local office supply or electronics retailer.

3. Choose the right size

Photos come in many shapes and forms, from wallet-sized (2.5-by-3.5-inch) to album/scrapbook-ready (4-by-6-inch or 5-by-7-inch) prints. Match the paper to fit.

Alternately, choose a standard letter-sized (8.5-by-11-inch) paper and use phto edit program to squeeze several smaller images onto one sheet.

Windows Photo Viewer makes printing multiple photos a breeze.

Windows Photo Viewer makes printing multiple photos a breeze.

4. Get inked

The safest way to pick an ink is to choose a brand from the same company that manufactured your printer. Various types of ink provide differing degrees of resistance to water, smudges, age, and fading. Which one you should pick depends entirely on how much you're willing to spend for various image-enhancing qualities.


Additional advice

  • Always align new print cartridges.

  • Experiment with free or commercial photo-editing software to eliminate image imperfections and to improve your subjects' already stunning good looks.

  • Practice by making test prints. Try reducing image size and creating multiple prints on a single sheet of paper to cut down on wasted materials.

  • Before placing photos in an album or framing them, give the ink approximately 12 hours to dry.


by Scott Steinberg
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/photos/organizingphotos.aspx