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10 quick tips for perfect prints

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E-mailing photos is fast, but photo prints remain the most popular way to share images. And with the right printer and a handful of simple techniques, your shots can look as sharp as photo lab pictures. Read on for surefire techniques for getting the best prints possible.

1. Good resolution

The standard unit of measurement for your picture’s sharpness is dots per inch, or dpi. You should be sure that the electronic file of your photo is at least 240 dpi for smaller photos (4 x 6 and below) and 300 dpi for larger ones (5 x 7 and above).

2. Best format

Even if your image has high resolution, you’ll still need to save it in the correct format: TIFF or JPEG. For best printing results, always save your pictures in the TIFF format. Although this format is somewhat larger than others, it is also the most reliable. The JPEG format is preferable for e-mailing photos.

3. Quality control

Use a good image-editing program (like Adobe Photoshop) to get rid of annoying dust marks and specks on your photos. (The printer will pick them up even if they’re very small.) You can also use the sharpening filter in your image-processing program to enhance the edges of your print.

4. DPI dilemmas

You’ll want a printer with at least four colors and 600 x 600 dpi. Otherwise, your photos may turn out pixilated (objects will have jagged edges). HP printers offer up to 4,800 x 1,200 dpi on premium photo paper.

5. Driver settings

Use the most current version of the printer driver available for your printer. Then be sure to set your preferences to the highest print quality. Try all the options the printer driver offers you, as sometimes you can find variables, like advanced color settings, which will improve your prints.

6. Printer resolution setting

Printing at a resolution from 240 to 300 dpi is a safe bet for top-quality photos.

7. Paper settings

Paper settings generally control the amount of ink that is put on the paper. Make sure you’re using the right setting for your chosen paper. The Plain Paper setting uses the most ink, while Glossy Film and Photo Paper settings use the least. When you find a setting that works for a particular paper type, take note of the setting so you’ll be able to get the same results when you use the paper again.

8. Clean and clear

Run the cleaner function in your printer every now and then to get maximal efficiency from your printer.

9. Paper selection

Although it’s readily available, plain copier paper doesn’t work as well for photographs you want to share or keep. You’ll get the best results if you use a photo paper specifically designed for your printer. Be sure to test a variety of paper types before buying large quantities. Find out whether your printer can create 4 x 6 prints (they’re just like what you’d get from a photo lab!).

Read more about how to select paper.

10. Drying time

Before you frame a photo or add it to a scrapbook, be sure to give it enough time to dry. Although most HP inks and papers are designed to dry within an hour or so, variables such as temperature, direct light, and humidity can change drying time. If the photo will come into contact with any other materials, such as framing glass, it is a good idea to let the print dry for about 24 hours. If you’re printing multiple copies of pictures, it’s a good idea to remove pictures from the printer as they come out and set them aside. This will avoid any accidental smearing or running.

Visit the HP Digital Photography Centre