Digital photography is a leap in capturing images. Instead of capturing image on film, it is stored as a series of zeros and ones on digital memory. This makes it easier to manipulate, share and store. The biggest headache to a digital photographer remains in getting an image in the correct resolution.
Resolution at work
Images in digital format are captures in a series of dots called pixels. These dots are represented on digital memory as a series of ones and zeroes. Resolution is measured by how many pixels are there in an inch. The more pixels there are in an inch, the higher the resolution. The average computer LCD monitor has 67-130 pixels per inch.
Sometimes you will capture good looking photos but which come out badly when the photo is printed. This is a mismatch between the resolution and the size of the paper. This is seen where some parts of the photo will look like blocks of L. This is called pixilation.
Digital camera resolutions are set by adjusting aspect ratio settings. The common aspect ratio settings are 3:2 and 4:3. Other settings can be 5:4, 16:9, and 1:1. An aspect ratio of 3:2 can have 300×200 pixels or 900×600 or 1200×800 pixels.
Photographic prints come in aspect ratios of 4×6, 5×7, 8×10, and 20×30. The aspect ratio determines the print size. The aspect ratio that can go with a specific print size is found by interchanging the number of the print size and then looking for the lowest number. For example a print size of 4×6 works with an aspect ratio of 3:2. Others are
Printing on paper
Pixilation occurs when there is a mismatch of the print size and the paper size. When printed on paper, pixels need to close together in higher concentration than on a digital screen. Printing a 4×6 photo on an 8×10 paper will result in pixilation as the photo will be printed on a much larger area which spreads the pixels much more making them looser.
A pixilation problem cannot be fixed by setting the printer to print at higher dpi (dots per inch). This is because the original pixels remain as fixed in the same concentration as they were in the original image. Printing at higher dpi only makes those in place come out larger.
Basically when shooting your digital photos, you must know what size of paper you will be printing on before you start the shoot. Lower resolution will look good on smaller size paper and vice versa.
If you are buying ink cartridge or laser toner for the first time, there are several differences that may not be immediately clear cut. The difference between dye and pigment ink is one that many ink cartridge buyers ask about. What is the difference between dye-based ink and pigment based inks and when should you use one and not the other?
Dye based inks
These inks are used in the standard ink cartridges. This kind of ink contains dyes that are fully dissolved in liquid. The biggest advantage of dye-based inks is their vibrancy in color. The colors come out better because there are optical compounds that are in the dye.
Their biggest disadvantage is smearing. If the cartridge is leaking or releasing ink in the wrong quantities, the paper will smear. Dye based ink dissolves into the paper fibers, and spreads very thinly. This makes it susceptible to damage by UV rays. This leads to quicker fading if the paper is exposed to the sun or a lot of daylight. However, fade resistance has been improved in high-quality inks from companies such as Fuji and Hp.
Where to use
Dye based ink has long been used in the standard ink cartridge for home and office use. It can print standard text and also graphics in official documents for example color graphs. This has been the preferred ink by heavy duty printers.
Pigment is a powdery substance that makes a suspension when mixed with liquid. Unlike dye-based ink, the pigment does not get dissolved in the paper’s fibers. Rather, it sits on the paper and bonds to the paper’s surface in a very thin film. This technology was debuted by Epson.
The biggest advantage of pigment ink is that it does not fade easily. Pigment does not break down easily under UV rays. This means it retains color vibrancy longer than dye-based ink. Pigment inks do not smear easily. As such the ink is ideal for printing on glossy paper like photographic paper. This type of ink tends to be costlier than dye based ink. Poor quality pigment inks have the problem of metamerism. This is where the human eye sees different colors for the same graphics when it is subjected to different light sources.
Where to use
Pigment inks are used in printing on glossy paper, transparencies and stickers. Its longer archival life is preferred for graphics. Some printing experts have claimed that its archival life could be as long as 200 years.
In the age of 32 GB flash memory, who cares to print the thousands of photos on the seemingly infinite memory? Buying photographic paper these days is such a headache as very few book stores have it in stock. There are no takers. We are content thinking that photos stored on hard drives, flash memory drives and DVDs will last forever. There are a few kinks in this argument. Here is why you should suddenly feel an urge to print your photos.
How does software rot? Unlike the obsolescence of the floppy disk, software rot is not physical wear and tear of your digital storage. Instead, it stands for mismatch of technologies over time. For example, most documents done with older formats in Windows 98 will refuse to open if you tried today. This is because the software standards are markedly different. As time goes by, different graphics formats will come up rendering the good old jpeg format obsolete, and your photos with it.
Although digital storage is vastly improved than 15 years ago, digital memory is still a fickle thing. Your flash will all of a sudden fail to open because you ignorantly stuck it in a computer that was laden with a virus. Your computer hard drive can be fried by an electric surge. Your DVDs could suffer scratching. There are many things that can happen to your digital storage to render it unusable and lose your photos forever. Printing on paper gives you alternative backup.
Perfect your skills
Instagram and Photoshop make hopeless photographers look very good with the use of filters and other enhancements. A digital screen will cover up many mistakes. Printing, on the other hand, will make you see your mistakes in lighting and other technicalities you must adjust to bring colors to life. By trying repeatedly for the perfect shot instead of using filters, you become a better photographer.
It feels good
Human nature is wired to feel good when rewarded with tangible beautiful things. That is why you give your loved one flowers instead of a picture of flowers. By printing your best photos, you have something to lay your hands on. You can look at the end results of your toil with a smug feeling of having done something useful
What will you give your kid to remember you when going away to college, a link to your IG? Likely not. But you could give her a print photo of her when her milk teeth were just coming out. Perfect.
The feel of good old paper still feels good in the hands. Decorative paper, books and other interesting information is still made of paper. Gifting something that can help the special women in our lives get joy from printables is the best idea for mother’s day. The printer and ink toner combo is a great idea as it can help your loved one print what she has longed to put on paper and express her loving care in written words.
Why are toners great gift ideas?
A printer can be used anywhere and anyone. Home printers are very common these days. Your aunt who still believes in the power of the hard copy will want to print that email she has waited to read but can’t because she hates the computer monitor.
Printers can be used to print the occasional menu downloaded from Pinterest, or the weight loss workout that your partner needs to take to the gym. A printer in the home or office will find good use.
You can buy a printer for anyone. Your busy career partner or wife will find it useful to print the report in the work carried home. Your mom will find it useful for printing eBooks she has wanted to read. Your sister will use it to print essays for school. All the special women in your life will find a printer very useful.
Printers are practical gifts that say you have put some thought into choosing the gift. Instead of a luxurious gift, a printer is an item that will keep reminding the owner of you over the years. As long as it is printing, your presence will be felt.
A printer is a long-lasting gift. The lifetime of a busy printer is about 3-5 years. A home printer that is not heavily used can last up to 7 years and more. It is the perfect gift that keeps on giving.
Some gift ideas
- Epson Expression Home XP-420 printer: This is a small portable and powerful printer that will print high quality documents and photos. It can connect to phones and other devices over Wifi and print from Google docs and Apple cloud.
- Brother MFC-J470DW printer: This is a multifunction inkjet printer for the office and home; it works well with affordable ink refills.
- HP 62 Black Original Ink Cartridges (C2P04AN). This cartridge works with a wide range of HP printers and can print up to 200 pages
- Brother Printer TN660 High Yield Toner. This cartridge can print up to 2600 pages.
- E-Z Ink (TM) Remanufactured Ink Cartridge Replacement for Epson 252XL High Capacity (2 Black, 1 Cyan, 1 Magenta, 1 Yellow) 5 Pack. This ink toner can be refilled for printing more than 3000 pages.