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Digital photo printing

Digital photography has put the process of developing photos into the hands of the consumer. This also includes printing the photos -- anyone with a decent printer attached to their computer can print out their own photos. This page explains the aspects of digital photo printing.

Digital photos are usually transferred to a computer where they can be edited and processed with specialized software. Finally, the photos can be printed out, but to get the best quality prints possible a few guidelines should be followed in digital photo printing.

In the process of transferring photos to your computer, some software packages automatically downsize the photos to make them easier to send by e-mail or post on web sites. For printing, however, downsizing should be avoided. Always make sure you are transferring photos to your computer at their full resolution.

Even at full resolution, however, some cameras do not have enough pixels to make decent printed pictures. Photo processing shops print pictures at 300 pixels per inch, and if you want that same kind of quality you must have images that are at least that resolution.

Pixels (picture elements) are the individual dots that make up a digital photograph. Cameras are usually rated in megapixels (millions of pixels) - the total number of pixels a camera can record. A camera which is rated at six megapixels, for example, can capture images which are 3008 pixels high by 2000 pixels wide.

The number of pixels in any digital image is fixed, so increasing the size of a photo means there are fewer pixels per inch. If the image is blown up beyond the standard of 300 pixels per inch clarity and sharpness will be reduced. Photos from cameras rated at two megapixels can be printed as large as 5.8" x 3.8" at 300 pixels per inch. A four megapixel camera can print photos as large as 8.2" x 5.4".

The first step in getting good-quality prints, therefore, is to make sure your photos are at the correct resolution – at least 300 pixels per inch.

Editing before the digital photo printing

One of the advantages of digital photography is the ability to edit images before they are printed out. There is a problem, however, with editing photos as JPEG files -- each time they are resaved they lose a little bit of data. This means that if you make several edits to a JPEG file, and save the photo after each edit, the quality of the photo will decrease significantly.

In order to avoid this, try to minimize the number of edits to a JPEG photo to one or two and save the edited photo under a new file name. This will keep the original file intact. Alternatively, store the photos in an uncompressed format like TIFF. This allows you to do as many edits as you wish without any loss of quality.

When it comes time to print out your photos you have two basic choices -- print them yourself or send them to a photo processing shop. Many photo shops have an online service which allows you to upload photos to their server. When they are printed (which can take as little as one-hour) you can pick them up or have them mailed to you. Alternatively, do it the old-fashioned way – take your pictures directly to the shop. Photo processing shops may have computers that you can use for free to edit your pictures before they are printed.

You can also print your pictures at home with your own printer – your own digital photo printing is explained in more detail here.

Photo Soren

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