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Monday, November 16, 2009

Next-Gen Photo Printers

Despite the proliferation of photo-sharing sites online, the print remains the ultimate expression of a photograph. New printer technology and models will have your prints looking better than ever.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II

Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II
Printing is about sharing. Prints are tacked to the wall for all to see or given outright for others to treasure. Making prints at home heightens the pleasure of sharing your images with others. But you need a printer that delivers quality to match your artistry.

If you’re ready to step up to professional-level output or perhaps you’ve outgrown your snapshot printer, your timing is perfect. Today’s market is flush with printers that produce top-notch quality and won’t bust your budget. And today’s inkjet technology is mature and stable—no more concerns about fading prints or disappearing inks.

Inkjet printers spray tiny droplets of ink to form the image. They rapidly heat ink that’s confined in a tiny cavity to extremely high temperatures until it literally explodes and blasts itself through a tiny opening as a microscopically thin stream. The volume of ink is measured in picoliters and, naturally, the smaller the volume, the tinier the dot that it produces.

Epson Stylus Pro 3880
A picoliter is one-trillionth of a liter. Another way to say it is one-millionth of one-millionth of a liter.

These tiny micro-droplets of ink are assembled on the paper in an orderly fashion, and their density can be measured in terms of dpi or “dots per inch.” In this case, the more, the merrier. A high dpi rating means that the ink is arranged in a very dense pattern, and the image will be closer to what’s known as “continuous tone.”

How fast all of this happens is tabulated in terms of ppm, or “pages per minute.” That pretty much explains itself, except you should be warned that you may never achieve the theoretical numbers achieved by the manufacturers. Nonetheless, the numbers give you some indication of how fast a printer operates and allow you to compare printer A to printer B. In addition to ppm, most manufacturers indicate the average time it takes to produce a certain size print—for example, some printers can spit out a 4x6 snapshot in 10 seconds.

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