The first major component of making great digital photo prints, is having a good quality digital camera. The higher resolution your camera (the more megapixels), the better its ability to produce good quality prints at larger sizes. Whenever possible, you should always take your pictures using the camera’s highest resolution setting.
Assuming you have a good digital camera, the next component for good prints is a good photo printer.
Choosing a good photo printer is another topic in itself but as a quick summary, the basics to look for are:
- Printing resolution of 1200 dots per inch (DPI) or better
- The size of the individual ink droplets (four picoliters or less)
- Ideally, a printer with 6 to 8 individual ink cartridges
With that said, the next part of the equation (and the focus of this article) is the type of ink that you use.
Primarily, ink is made from either dye based or pigment based aqueous solutions. Both can be used for photography but there are distinct characteristics to each.
Pigment based ink has the advantage of being more UV resistant, faster drying, usually waterproof, and generally has longer archival properties.
Pigmented inks however do have a few downsides. One issue is that print heads may become clogged more often because of the fast dry time and larger tint particles. Pigmented inks are also usually a little more expensive and may not beavailable for all printers.
A couple of advantages of dye based inks are that the tint particles are smaller and slower drying so there is less chance of clogging your printhead, and they are also less expensive.
The downsides of dye based inks are that they are not generally waterproof, and don’t have as good of archival properties as pigmented inks do. However, using archival quality photo paper can offset some of these shortcomings.
You basically have to make your decision based on what you’re printing and how long you will have it. Choose dye, pigmented or a pigment and dye combination inks depending on intended use.
Dye based inks are usually fine for most general photo applications, however if you require top of the line quality prints, then pigmented inks would be best.
In addition to OEM cartridges (the manufacturer brand), there may also be less expensive options of re manufactured or new compatible cartridges. Only you can decide which is best for your application.
If you purchase re-manufactured or compatible ink cartridges, you should know that there is a wide array of different quality levels out there. Some are very good, but there are others that fall short. The bottom line is to make sure you go with a company you can trust, and that backs up their products with a solid guarantee. We at ASAP Inkjets always try to offer the best quality inkjet cartridges we can find.
Finally, besides the quality of your digital camera, inkjet printer, and the inkjet cartridges you use — You must also factor in the importance of high quality photo paper. Each component factors into your end result. In order to make good quality digital photos, you must consider all four factors.
In order to get the best quality photo prints, you CANNOT skimp on paper quality. Photo paper that features “archival quality” and “acid-free” is preferable. (Which is yet another story…)