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13 Tips for Better Photo Printing

If you’ve been following my baby scrapbooking saga, you know that I’ve been working on finishing the scrapbook that I so quickly abandoned after my son was born. I’ve also been working on compiling photo albums as part of my 20 Things Before Pregnancy #2 list.

And although photo sharing/printing sites are great (like Snapfish, Shutterfly, Picaboo, etc.), it’s infinitely easier to print them at home. Plus, you have much more quality control. I can’t tell you how many prints have turned out looking fuzzy or off-colored from photo printing sites.

But maybe you think that at-home photo printing is more complicated, or that it requires top-of-the-line materials. Take a look at these 13 simple tips for better at-home photo printing:


  • Take Better Photos 1 of 13
    Take Better Photos
    Besides having a decent camera, there's one key secret to taking better pictures: TAKE MORE PICTURES! The more photos you take, the better the chances that one will turn out great. I take far more discarded photos than saved photos. (By the way, this photo was taken with a Canon Rebel, but I have a Canon PowerShot for a basic point-and-shoot. It's all about the photo editing.)
  • Increase Photo Resolution 2 of 13
    Increase Photo Resolution
    This is me increasing my Canon PowerShot's photo resolution, and you can find out how to do this in your camera's manuel. This camera's highest resolution is 8 megapixels (which is perfect for larger photos up to 16x20 prints), but some cameras have 10 megapixels or more, which is awesome for extra large projects and posters. A decent 5 to 6 megapixels should be decent for your basic 11x14 photos. I wouldn't print with much less than that.
  • Only Edit From Copies 3 of 13
    Only Edit From Copies
    Before making any changes to a photo whatsoever, even just cropping, make a duplicate copy. That way you'll always have the original to revert back to.
  • Change the File Format 4 of 13
    Change the File Format
    You might be used to saving in JPEGS, which is better to compress files and post on the Web, but you'll want a larger TIFF file for photo printing.
  • Use Photo Editing Programs 5 of 13
    Use Photo Editing Programs
    You don't have to buy expensive photo editing software for basic cropping, red-eye removal, enhancing, etc. I edit all of my photos in my Mac's iPhoto, which came standard with the computer. You can also download a free version of Picasa from Google (Macs or PCs).
    Download Picasa.
  • Pick a Good Printer 6 of 13
    Pick a Good Printer
    If it's time to upgrade your printer, pay attention to the dpi (dots per inch). The higher the dpi number, the better the prints will look. The general rule is to use a printer with at least 600 x 600 dpi, but most new photo printers have well above that range. The Canon PIXMA MG8120 has an incredible 9600 x 2400 max color dpi.
    Buy from Canon.
  • Get the Right Photo Paper 7 of 13
    Get the Right Photo Paper
    It's best to get the photo paper that's made by your printer's manufacturer, just as a general rule. And the better the photo paper, the better the print will look. This isn't a step to skimp on! (I snapped this photo of a photo to show you how the Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II paper looks. The picture doesn't do it justice. Clear as a bell!)
  • Get the Right Ink 8 of 13
    Get the Right Ink
    Again, make sure you get the kind of ink that your printer specifies. I love that the PIXMA printer comes with individual color ink tanks, so you only replace the color you're out of.
  • Choose the Right Printer Options 9 of 13
    Choose the Right Printer Options
    This is a biggie. When printing, make sure you specify the paper size and paper type.
  • Experiment with Different Papers 10 of 13
    Experiment with Different Papers
    I assumed that I'd strictly use matte photo paper (I'm not a glossy kind of gal), yet I love the Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II. Thankfully I bought multiple kids of paper to play around with.
    See more of the Canon photo papers.
  • Check Your Printer Driver 11 of 13
    Check Your Printer Driver
    Check your printer manufacturer's web site for any downloadable updates to your printer driver. Driver software is essentially how your computer and printer communicate, so you want to use the most current drivers available.
  • Experiment with Different Printing Options 12 of 13
    Experiment with Different Printing Options
    The Canon PIXMA offers multiple printing options: from your computer, camera/memory card, smartphone, or even from an HD movie! The coloring and quality can be different, so experiment with what you like best.
  • Let Them Dry! 13 of 13
    Let Them Dry!
    If you're putting your photos in an album or frame, allow them to dry for a good 10 - 12 hours first. Just to be on the safe side.

Many thanks to Canon for sponsoring this post and for providing me with a brand new shiny PIXMA printer to play with.

***

Read more of Michelle’s writing at Early Mama.

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