Even if you do all those things right, however, the quality of the print can be let down if you don’t have the right paper and ink.
How to Choose Your Paper
To print the best-quality images, you simply must use photographic paper – there is no substitute. Photographic paper has a coating that has a static charge. This static charge repels the static charge in the ink, which means the ink doesn’t spread or bleed: it dries precisely where it was placed by the printer.
You then need to check the opacity rating and the thickness of the paper. The opacity of paper indicates how much light it lets through, whilst the thickness is, well, how thick it is. These qualities affect how much – if any – of the image will show through on the other side of the paper. To prevent it showing through, the opacity rating should be between 94 and 97, and the thickness should be around 7-10 mil. Luckily, almost all photographic papers for home printers meet these two criteria, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Next, you need to be sure the paper has an ISO brightness rating of less than 104 and TAPPI rating of less than 92. This is to make sure your photos last. Paper with ratings higher than that may have fluorescent agents in them which can degrade photos over time.
Then you need to choose between matte, semi-matte, glossy or other finishes. This is just an aesthetic choice, so pick your personal preference.
Finally, if you live in a humid area, make sure the paper has two layers of resin coating – one on top of the actual paper and one underneath. It doesn’t affect the ink at all, but it keeps paper that has been exposed to moisture from curling.
TIP: Before placing the paper in the printer, fan through the pages to get air between the sheets. This helps prevent paper jams.
How to Choose the Right Ink
Selecting the correct printer ink is a lot more straightforward than selecting photo paper. Most photographers and printers agree that you should use the ink cartridges made by the same company that manufactured your printer. The cartridges and printer are designed to work together, and that will print better images. If you absolutely must buy third-party ink cartridges, do some research to make sure they work well with your make of printer.
You should also check to see if the ink is dye or pigment based. This doesn’t influence the image quality as much as it determines the kind of paper you should use. Some photo papers work best with dye-based inks, others with pigment-based ones and some work well with both kinds of ink. Most inkjet photo printers use dye-based inks, but it’s still worth double-checking.
If you do all of these things, you should be able to produce professional-looking images quickly and easily.
One final tip, though: don’t worry about getting the perfect snapshot on your first go. Professional photographers are prepared to take hundreds of shots when they photograph something, then sort the rubbish from the great images later. And that is the wonderful thing about digital cameras: you can keep taking photos for as long as there is memory space. Just relax, have fun and delete the bad ones when you are back at your computer.
Guest post written by: This post comes from Clickinks, an online distributor of printer ink and toner cartridges with over 1 million items in stock. Clickinks carries cartridges for top brands such as HP ink, Epson, Canon, Brother toner and much more. Visit Clickinks.com to find the right ink or toner to suit your printing needs.