After seeing a woman print photos in a local drug store today and suggesting she go to a camera store instead, I decided it was time to put this subject back into the spotlight. Hence, I am re-posting with minimal editing, a blog from 2009. I am a huge advocate for camera stores and spent 7 years working for Ritz Camera. In the past 4-5 years, over 800 chain camera stores have closed as well as countless privately-owned shops. The age of digital photography has killed jobs and put Kodak almost entirely out of business, a business they created. For the love of documenting your world for future generations (not to mention quality), put down the cell phone, pick up a camera and print your pictures.
Laser printers are designed to print text, charts, and graphs. They are not to be used for printing photographs.
Inkjets are by far the most popular of home printers. They print quickly, are inexpensive, and may include other features such as copying and faxing. Inkjets emit droplets of ink onto photo paper using ink cartridges. Prints often come out damp and need to dry before they can be handled. Ink can and will smudge and prints are ruined by liquid and long exposures to heat and light.
Ink tanks vary by printer. The best color reproduction comes from having individual color cartridges. Photo paper designed for inkjets range in paper weight, surface, and size.
Printers can be purchased in office supply stores, wholesale warehouses, camera shops, and computer/electronic stores.
Dye subs, as they are commonly referred to, are quite different than laser and inkjet printers in that they heat up the photographic paper and colors are released as a gas. The papers have a laminate-like coating which when heated lock in the dye, making the photograph less susceptible to fading and also water-resisitant.
Dyes and papers are sold as a kit and state exactly how many prints it’ll produce.
You’ll find high-end dye-sublimation machines for customer use in drug stores and camera shops as they are faster alternatives to mini lab printing. Smaller printers for personal use are sold in office supply stores, camera shops, and by computer/electronic retailers.
Traditional photofinishing labs offer the highest quality print possible. Maintenance is extremely important in regards to how well these multi million dollar machines operate. Manual color and contrast corrections can make nearly any image better or worse, depending upon who is printing – a person or auto pilot.
Minilabs print digital images by using a laser which exposes the photo paper which is then run through a series of chemicals to develop the image. This process is extremely similar to how negatives are printed. Those family photos you have from generations ago have lasted so long because of how they were printed.
1. Print your photos. Computers crash, CDs are being replaced by DVDs for storage, and memory cards can become corrupt but prints are highly visible and easy to obtain.
2. Nothing compares to the quality of a minilab other than a professional lab that does custom printing.
3. It’s actually cheaper to print your photos in a minilab than it is at home.
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