The parameters to use to print photos: what are the most critical settings for obtaining quality prints? When you want to produce quality photos on paper, more is needed to have a good photo printer: it’s essential to know the settings that help you get the best results. All printers use a custom driver with several settings to help you print compelling photos. The structure and options offered by each print driver vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and often between various printer models.
By clicking on File, Print in the main applications, or by pressing CTRL+P (in Chrome, Edge, Chromium, and derivative browsers, you have to press CTRL+SHIFT+P ), you access the print window. You access the advanced printer settings with a click on the Preferences button.
To access the printing preferences, you can type Printers and scanners in Windows 10 and 11, click on the printer name, or select Manage, then Printing preferences.
By accessing the printing preferences from the File, Print menu, or pressing the key combinations seen previously, any changes made apply to the single print session. By changing the printing preferences at the operating system level, going through the Printers and scanners window, they will become the default ones and be used by all installed programs.
A printer defaults to the Text & Image option, but many other settings can be selected. Printing photos: pay attention to the size of the images Every time you print a photo from your smartphone or PC, it seems so grainy that you can recognize the pixels that make it up; it doesn’t have a good resolution or a sufficient number of pixels per inch (PPI).
Difference Between PPI And DPI
PPI and DPI ( dots per inch ) are not the same things: the term DPI refers to the number of printed dots in a single inch of an image printed by a printer. PPI, on the other hand, indicates the number of pixels in a single inch of an image displayed on a computer monitor or on any mobile or portable device. We have seen what PPIs are and why they are essential for displays.
While PPI refers to the resolution of a digital image on a screen, it also affects the quality of the printed image.
Also Read: How To Shrink A Photo For Instagram
Image Resolution: Better To Talk About DPI To Print Photos
The resolution of an image or the number of pixels that make up the photo vertically and horizontally only says a little if we talk about the size of the print medium. For example, printing WhatsApp photos is just enough for 10×15 cm support. Still, if you switch to more extensive paper support, the resolution with which WhatsApp photos are stored is no longer sufficient, and the result will appear poor.
DPI indicates the number of dots that a printer can deposit for each inch (“inch” or about 2.54 cm) and which will contribute to composing the final image. To print photos, 300 DPI represents the expected value. In some cases, especially with the most modern photographic printers, it is possible to go up a bit to obtain results with a more incredible wealth of detail and, therefore, sharper images.
In Windows, leave the mouse pointer on the name of a photo for a few moments: you will see its resolution in pixels ( Dimensions ). Alternatively, right-click on the file name, select Properties, and click on Details. Divide the resolution in pixels vertically and horizontally by 300 (DPI) and then multiply by 2.54 (a constant that transforms inches into centimeters): you will find the maximum print size of the photo.
For example, a 6000 x 4000 pixel photo can be printed on a maximum of about 50 x 34 cm support at 300 DPI. You will retain all detail when printing on smaller media. Resizing photos with GigaPixel AI helps, and not only on video: during your tests, you will notice significantly improved results, even in print.
Select Paper Size And Media Type
Photo printers support all primary print media sizes and have an integrated photo tray that is useful for handling smaller prints such as 10x15cm. Some printers have a rear print tray that accepts special paper, such as cardstock. You can scroll through the different paper feed options in the printer menu ( Options & Quality panel or similar).
The Media Type drop-down menu allows you to choose a unique paper for printing photos. Most printer brands offer a form for making photo prints, but you don’t have to stick with the brand – plenty of alternative options allow you to get quality results at a discounted price. On Amazon Italy, it is possible to find A4 photo paper or 10×15 cm or 13×18 cm photo paper to be inserted in the appropriate tray, given the heavyweight that distinguishes these supports.
Print Profiles And Advanced Settings
Several features of modern photo printers have contributed, over the years, to obtaining ever-increasing quality printed photos :
- The number of ink cartridges has increased in several models of inkjet printers (the laser printer is not suitable for photographic uses in the strict sense): a more comprehensive range of colors makes it easier to get the ink dots for a pixel and represent their color better.
- Decreased the size of ink droplets allowing you to place more close together, overlapping or not.
- Ink droplets can be produced in different sizes.
- The software/firmware involved in converting pixels into physical locations linked to the release of corresponding ink drops has become faster and more powerful. Compared to what happened in the past, more complex and precise processing is performed in the limited time available at average printing speeds.
The adjustments found in the advanced settings of the print driver ( Photo, Best photo, Photo print,…) do nothing but act on the parameters seen previously and, in collaboration with the firmware, optimize the yield of an image depending on the type of photo and the medium used.
Then there are the corrections (called PhotoEnhance or something similar) that the printer can apply autonomously to optimize: they are specifically designed for photographic images of portraits, landscapes, night scenes, and so on. Everyone does not appreciate them because many like to make adjustments before sending the photo to print, but, in any case, it is good to know that these corrections are also found in the printer preferences window.
International Color Consortium ( ICC ) or Information Classification and Management (ICM) profiles describe the color characteristics of scanners, printers, monitors, and so on. It’s frustrating when what you get on paper doesn’t match what you see on screen: ICC profiles help solve this problem, although an exact match will never be achieved because a print, by definition, is reflective with subtractive colors.
This means that the more ink you add, the darker and more “muddy” the colors get. On the other hand, colors are additive: the more you add, the brighter and generally more intense the colors become. Furthermore, the print media (read, the paper used to print photos) on the market are incredibly different: they change the materials, the coating, the requirements for ink density, and the way colors are reflected.
In the case of prints, the ICC profiles allow you to automatically adjust the printer’s behavior by adapting it to the print media used to maximize the result and obtain the most vivid and realistic colors possible. Each inkjet printer has a limited number of cartridges: the ICC profile allows you to adjust correctly, know the exact paper used, and how the inks are “mixed” to reproduce the millions of possible values in tone and color that each photon contains at each individual pixel.
Take the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 “top of the range” A2 format printer as an example: that photo printer has as many as 12 ink cartridges to reproduce a wider color gamut: in this case, the firmware has to work less to approximate the color you want to print.
Last but not least, it is essential to periodically check the cleaning of the print head and the alignment by going to the utility section of the printer driver. The ICC profiles provide the expected results only with original papers and inks. With these print supports, the manufacturer has performed laboratory tests and “packaged” the profiles included with the official drivers. Images used as thumbnails to accompany this article are from Canon.