Printing Guide
Your Different Printing Options

A few years back there were only a couple of ways you could do this and one of them was to set up your own printing darkroom.

Now with the advent of digital photography, the explosion of the Internet and increased competition, there are now many more options open to the photographer. However each have their own pros and cons and which one you choose will very much depend on:

  • How large you want to print
  • The cost
  • The speed
  • The quality required

I have put together this printing guide to simply outline all the possible ways you can print out your photographs.

Home Printing

Printing Guide - Choice Of Printers
Picture by Liewcf on Flickr

The choices - Inkjet or dye-sub printers

How - There are several ways you can use a home printer to print out your images. Depending on the make of your printer you can either:

  • Download your images from your camera onto your computer and connect your printer to your computer.
  • Connect your camera directly to your printer via a cable
  • Load your camera memory card into the printer

The Pros - For small or one-off prints it is cost effective and you have more control over the final image quality depending on your computer software settings. If you are not happy with a print, you can simply try again.

You can obtain prints immediately without having to wait for them to be delivered to you. Great advantage for the impatient amongst us, like me.

The Cons - Not practical for large prints runs and you are restricted by the size of the print you can obtain.

High Street Printing

The choices - There are many high street printing stores that will process your images for you such as Jessops, Snappy Snaps, Max Spielmann. These stores also sell accessories such as frames, photo albums etc which may be convenient if you are also looking for some way to display your images.

How - You simply have to give them a DVD/CD or memory card full of your images and they will print them for you in your desired format. They will offer several services such as 1-hour service, 24-hour service or a week service, which will of course vary in price with the 1-hour service costing the most.

The pros - you will not have to worry about any of the technical side of printing or printer maintenance.

The cons - you will not be able to adjust your images in any way and so if the colour is not quite right or the cropping of the image is wrong you will have to pay for the print anyway.

Kiosks

Printing Guide - Kiosk

The choices - Digital photo printing kiosks have popped up everywhere over the last few years, from supermarkets to pharmacists. This makes them very convenient to use for the casual photographer.

How - The kiosks allow you to insert various storage media into them such as DVD/CD, SD cards, compact flash and memory sticks. You can then make some basic changes to your images on screen, such as cropping and brightness and choose which size to print the images.

The pros - You are able to get instant prints quickly and with little fuss. The kiosks are quite versatile and the ability to make changes to your images is very beneficial. They are very handy if you only want one of two prints made.

The cons - You are limited to the size of print you want and sometimes the quality of the print may not be as good as other options. Using these machines can be more expensive than having the store process them for you.

Online Printing Services

Printing Guide - Online Printing Services

The choices - A quick online search for printing services will reveal many companies offering many services ranging from straightforward paper prints to printing your images on mugs and t-shirts.

How - You can either upload your images online using the companies own software or you can send a DVD/CD of your images through the post.

The pros - These online printing services are often very cheap in comparison to the high street printers and the range of goods you can have your images printed on is ideal for Christmas gifts etc. Some of the online printers also allow you store some of your images on their servers meaning that you have free storage for your images and a handy back up if you lose your images at home.

The cons - It can be a slow process uploading your images to the site online if you have a slow connection speed or have a large number of images. You will have to wait for several days for your images to arrive.

Professional Printing Labs

The choice - for the professional photographer wishing to showcase their work or sell prints this is the only option. These professional services can be found in large towns and cities and there are a few online where you can download or send your large image files to.

They will have specialist high quality printers that are able to print to a very high standard and at large sizes on a range of different quality papers. Some even offer to print the images on different surfaces such as Perspex and metal.

How - usually because of the large file sizes required to print high quality or large images you will have to send or give your images to the printers via DVD/CD or memory cards. There are a few who can accept large files sizes online.

The pros - Your images will be printed using the best inks and papers available with a long archival life. The accuracy of the colours printed will be much better than other printing methods. You also have a larger choice of sizes and paper quality than with other printing methods.

The Cons - Often it takes longer for these services to print your work and will cost considerably more than other printing options.