Making the Most of Your Digital
Photographs at Home
Remember the old days? You purchase a roll of film, take your photos,
then drop off the roll at your local photo lab. A few days later,
you drive back to the lab and claim your pictures, seeing the results
of your work for the first time.
Fast forward to now. The time between the moments you snap a photo
and the moment you can see the photo is a few seconds. And the photo
lab? Chances are, you or someone you know has their own little photo-developing
studio within their desktop computer. As technology has blossomed,
the price of high-quality photo paper, printers and software has
become more affordable. And with that drop in price comes an opportunity
as an artist—the opportunity to share your work with more people.
Consider printing your photos on your holiday greeting cards or
matting and framing digital photos as gifts—it's a low cost way
to promote your work.
But high quality is a relative term, and some products consistently
deliver better digital photo results than others. Below, we'll provide
recommendations on everything from paper to software for those just
entering the world of digital photography as well as digital photo
Choosing a good photo-quality printer can be a frustrating task.
With so many brands and price points to choose from, how can you
determine which printer best suits your artistic needs while fitting
within your budget? First, consider this: Printers that excel at
outputting digital photos are typically more expensive to purchase
and maintain than all- purpose inkjet printers. Instead of trying
to find an inkjet printer that does a 'decent' job of printing photos,
consider purchasing a lower-cost inkjet printer specifically for
your non-photo printing, and investing in a photo-quality printer.
HP's Photosmart 130 does an impressive job of what it does, which
is print 4 x 6 or wallet-sized prints. It's compatible with both
Mac and PC computers, but a computer doesn't have to be involved—the
Photosmart 130 can also print directly from you camera's storage
media, including CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards, as well as Memory
Sticks. Pricing runs around $140.
(full review available at
Cnet HP Photosmart 130 Review)
The Epson Stylus Photo 2200 is considered the pinnacle of home
or office digital photo printers. Able to print at a whopping resolution
of 2,880 x 1,440, the 2200 also offer loads of versatility with
regard to print sizes—from as 3.5 x 3.5 inches up to 13 x 129 inches
on versions of Windows higher than Windows 98. Pricing runs between
(full review available at
Steve's Digicams Epson Stylus Photo 2200 Review)
All photo paper is NOT created equal. One general tip to follow
when purchasing photo paper is to follow your printer manufacturer's
recommendations— oftentimes, papers from a particular company are
specifically made to absorb ink in a way unique to their printers.
If you're looking to save some money, try out your local office
store's selection of house brand or generic photo papers. Buying
these in a small quantity allows you to test without breaking the
bank, and gives you a medium-grade paper for doing test prints.
Aspen Extreme Photo Glossy: MediaStreet.com's Aspen paper is a high
gloss, heavy paper. This paper tends to work best on Canon printers
and tends to show more noise and tonal variations on Epson printers.
MediaStreet also offers trial packs bundled with 2 sheets each of
nine different papers. Pricing on the trial packs is an affordable
$10.39 for 8.5 x 11" sheets.
Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper: In a roll format that makes it
perfect for large-scale or panoramic prints, Epson's Premium Luster
paper offers digital photographers a lot of appealing options. The
paper holds ink well without smearing or getting too 'wet', and
works well in a variety of printers; if your printer doesn't have
a roll paper adapter, simply cut the paper to the size you need
and feed it into the printer manually. Pricing runs about $30 for
50 sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper.
Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper)
Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard in photo and image manipulation—but
being tops in the industry comes with a hefty price tag. For some
of your more common photo tasks, like reducing noise and correcting
red-eye, consider the following:
Preclick Digital Photo Software: At a price point of a little less
than $20, this software contains a lot of beginner-focused digital
photo manipulation functionality at a little cost. Preclick lets
you easily put photos in themed 'albums', as well as allowing for
easy cropping and red-eye reduction.
Neat Image: Grain is for bread, not for photos, right? Neat Image
seems to think so-- their software makes it easy for digital photography
aficionados to remove the graininess (or noise) from digital photos.
Neat Image has a download that is free for non-commercial use (with
some limitations—saving files in JPEG format only) and licensing
begins at $30.
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