Whether you’re printing from a camera or a scanned image, printing high quality photos at home is very simple. But here are a few tips to make the process even easier.
A digital image is made up of lots of little colored dots, or pixels. It’s like a mosaic. Each pixel is made up of one color and when they are all put together, it makes a picture. A photo’s resolution is how many pixels the image has per inch. This is referred to as PPI (pixels per inch) or DPI (dots per inch). The terms are used interchangeably. A photo that has a high PPI number will have a lot more detail than one with a low PPI number. A photo with more detail will be a higher quality.
All the detail that will ever be available is dependent upon the number of pixels in your original photo. If you try to enlarge your photo or increase the PPI without there being enough pixel information, your computer will have to add pixels. It will sample colors from the original image, but it will result in a pixelated or blurry image.
Don’t be fooled by how your image looks on your computer screen. Most computer monitors have a relatively low resolution at 72 PPI. Most printers have the capability of showing a much higher resolution. So when you print out your photo, it won’t look as good as it does on your monitor if the resolution is low.
There are two different ways your scanner or camera will achieve a high pixel count. The first is by keeping the resolution at 72 PPI but greatly enlarging your photos overall dimensions. The second way is done by keeping the dimensions of the photo the same as the original, but increasing the PPI. If you have a 4x6 picture at 600 PPI and a 33x50 picture at 72 PPI, their pixel dimensions are both 3600x2400. Both images are equal in quality.
If your computer uses the second way of sizing photos, you can very easily get into your scanner or cameras settings and change the PPI number. A high quality photo shouldn’t be printed at anything less than 300 PPI. Keep in mind that if you ever want to enlarge the photo, you need to set the PPI number higher so there is enough pixel information when the photo gets bigger.
The last thing you want to consider is your printer. Many household printers are now capable of producing good quality photographs. Before you make a purchase make sure you know if a printer is capable of printing good photos. If you plan doing a lot of printing high quality photos at home, purchasing a photo printer may be a good investment.