When it comes to purchasing a printer, most consumers look for photo printing capability. Normal inkjets printers can fire coloured prints on photo paper, but that doesn’t really make them photo printers. There’s actually a dedicated category called photo printers.
Though most of them also work on the same ink-based technology as regular inkjets, they differ from routine inkjets. Let’s find out.
Dedicated and Near-Dedicated
Photo printers fall into two broad categories at the consumer level – near-dedicated photo printers and dedicated snapshot printers. The near-dedicated photo printers are designed for home users and serious amateur photographers.
These printers produce professional-level print quality and usually print on sizes up to A4. Nowadays, most of them come as multi-function device that can print, scan and copy.
Most mid-level inkjet printers fall in this category and will do an adequate job. One example is the HP DeskJet Ink Advantage 5275 All-in-One Printer.
Dedicated snapshot printers on the other hand are designed to print photos. However, they are small in size and can’t be used for document printing and other functions. Typically, these printers support paper sizes of 2 x 3 inches, 4 x 6 inches, or 5 x 7 inches.
The HP Sprocket photo printer for instance, is small and portable. As the name suggests, it’s small enough to fit into a pocket. Moreover, it doesn’t need a PC to connect to. You can simply fire 2 x 3 inch photo prints from a smartphone or tablet over Bluetooth.
Bluetooth-enabled, portable photo printers like HP’s Sprocket above are popular nowadays for on-the-go printing. They use thermal print technology instead of ink.
Another interesting thing about this printer is that it’s not ink-based. It prints on Zink / HP photo paper, which doesn’t require ink because Zink’s proprietary printing technology puts crystals on every sheet that show up as specific colours when heated up.
The quality of prints for this printer aren’t exactly high quality, but if you’re looking for quick prints when you’re on the move, like when on a vacation trip with friends and would like to share a memory with them, then you can simply fire prints on the spot and give it to them.
If you are a professional photographer, then you need a high-level photo printer. Though they’re also ink based, but unlike normal inkjet printers that come with three colour and one black ink cartridge, professional photo printers could have 6 or even 12 colour ink cartridges.
These printers use pigment-based ink and print on special quality paper. Dye-based inks are normally used in regular inkjets used by consumers.
Nowadays, with advances in technology, there’s very subtle difference between print-outs from different kinds of inks that mostly professional photographers would be able to make out. That’s why they prefer to go with pigment-based inks.
Print rich, high-clarity, fade-resistant photos from any device using wireless connectivity with a printer like HP Smart Tank 516 Wireless All-in-One to preserve memories. They have transparent ink tanks to monitor ink levels and refill easily with spill-free, resealable bottles.
Moreover, the mid-level inkjet photo printers support 4800 x 1200 dpi print quality, while the high-level ones can print 5760 x 1440 or higher dpi. Here, higher the DPI, better the image quality.
Due to all these reasons, photo printers are also more expensive than regular inkjets.
In the end we can say that both home and professional photo printers use the same inkjet-based quality, but the professional ones differ in that they have more ink cartridges and can print at higher resolutions. But if you are not a professional, then go for inkjet printers. They’re more than sufficient for your color photo printing needs.
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