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How to Print Great Photos from Home

How to Print Great Photos from Home

Print high-quality photos from home using these simple tips.

Whether you are displaying your favorite snapshots on the wall or gearing up for your next holiday card, printing from the comfort of home is a convenient way to print any photo.  With the tips in this article, we show you how to print photos that look great and last a lifetime in no time!

Which is better?  Inkjet or laser?

If you are trying to decide between an inkjet or laser printer…go with an inkjet printer.  Inkjet printers are made for photo printing, offering far better color accuracy and sharpness compared to laser.  Yes, printing photos with a laser printer is still possible, but the colors will look duller and some of the finer details may be lost.  Not sure which printer choose?  We’ve included some of our favorite photo printers further down the page.


Know Your Printer Settings

All printers come equipped with customizable printer settings so you can optimize for the perfect print.  While the menu and setting options vary slightly between printer brands, all inkjet printers have a “photo printing” setting which you can find under the printer properties menu.  To access it on your laptop, navigate to File > Print with your mouse or type CTRL + P on your keyboard, then select “Printer Properties”.  Here you will find a “Photo Printing” option, plus a number of other customizable features like borderless printing, media type and paper size.  More on that below!!


Know Your Paper Type

The “Media Type” dropdown under the setting menu includes the paper type options that are available to you.  From fine art papers to card stock, you can find almost any kind of specialty paper you need to create a great photo.   Most printer brands create their own paper to go along with their printers, but don’t feel like you need to stay loyal to the brand, there are ton of alternative options that print just as well, including affordable paper options from LD Products.

Here are some of the most common paper types:

Glossy paper features a highly reflective coating. Common types of glossy finishes include high gloss, soft gloss, and satin finishes which create deep vibrant colors and high contrast sharpness. They are good for albums and displaying away from windows, where the natural light will reflect off the front of your image and distort it. Glossy finishes are commonly used in formal portraiture. Glossy coatings are susceptible to dust and show fingerprints, so they should be handled wisely.

Semi-gloss paper incorporates some gloss, but not as much as high gloss finishes. Common types include satin, pearl, and lustre—the later of which is very popular among photographers for its versatility and good D-max capabilities. Semi-gloss finishes print good, clean colors and strong contrast, and they frame well behind glass.

Matte paper is made from hot-pressed fibre and does not have a glossy coat. Because it lacks a smooth and shiny coating, it can come in a variety of different textures from a soft velvet to visibly-woven high cotton paper to thick, dimpled paper that makes your print resemble a watercolor painting. Matte paper is the best for getting rich and deep dark tones, making it ideal for black and white photographers. For color photographers, matte paper can make colors look “older” than a glossy or semi-gloss paper will. Much like glossy finishes, gallery-quality prints on matte paper may require special handling like cotton gloves to prevent fingerprinting.


Optimize for Paper Size

Photos come in all kinds of sizes: 4 x 6, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10 are a few of the most common!  Most inkjet printers come with a built-in photo tray to handle smaller prints like 4 x 6 and some have a rear tray for specialty paper like card stock.  You can see the different paper source options in the printer menu on your laptop, or check your printer user guide to see what options are available for your printer series.

Pro tip: Before you decide what size to print your photo, play close attention to the pixels!

The more pixels a photo has, the larger the print can be. Whenever you print a photo from your phone or laptop and it looks grainy or pixelated, it’s because it doesn’t have enough PPI (pixels per inch).  For best results, you need to determine what the optimal print size is for your photo and print the photo within that range.

To do this, you first need to find the dimensions of your photo.

On a PC, right click on the photo and select “Properties”, then go to the “Details” tab to pull up the dimensions.

If the picture opens up in the Windows Photos program, right click the photo and select “File Information” to bring up the dimensions.

Then refer to the chart below to determine what the optimal print size is for your photo.  In our example with dimensions of 3088 x 2056, we can print the photo as large as 11 x 14 and not lose any sharpness.


Maintain Your Printer

For best printing results, take the time to maintain your printer.  Keep the printheads primed and in top condition.  To do this, we recommend printing regularly (at least once a week) and running the cleaning function occasionally.  Simple maintenance like this prevents clogs so your cartridges last longer.  An idle printer is an expensive printer.  No matter what printer you own, ink will eventually dry out if the printer is not used enough.

We show you how to run a printhead nozzle check, which checks the print quality of your ink cartridges, and run a printhead cleaning on an Epson printer in the video below.  The steps are similar for almost all inkjet printers.


Best Photo Printers

Thinking about upgrading your photo printer?  Check out a few of our top-rated favorites…

Best Home Photo PrinterBest Wide-Format PrinterBest High-Volume Photo PrinterBest Professional Photo Printer
Canon PIXMA TR8620Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500Canon PIXMA Pro 200
Release Year2020201720212020
TechnologyInkjetInkjetInkjetInkjet
WirelessYesYesYesYes
Prints in Color?YesYesYesYes
InkTankNoNoYesNo
Print Speed21 ppm (black) / 11 ppm (color)17 ppm (black) / 9.5 ppm (color)16 ppm (black) / 12 ppm (color)Not provided by Canon
Ink SeriesCanon PGI-280XXL/CLI-281XXL ink cartridgesEpson 312XL ink cartridgesEpson 522 ink bottlesCanon CLI-65 ink cartridges
Black Yield600 pages500 pages6,700 pages12.6 mL
Color Yield~ 820 pages~ 830 pages each6,200 pages each12.6 mL
Photo Black Yield~ 6,360 pagesN/A7,300 pagesN/A

Best Home Photo Printer

Canon PIXMA TR8620 – Buy on Amazon

If you looking for high quality photos but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the PIXMA TR8620 is a solid choice.  5 individual inkjet cartridges are used to create a print, delivering plenty of color depth.  The printer is compact too and able to print 4” x 6”, 5” X 7” and 5” x 5” square borderless photos – perfect sizes for a holiday card.  It’s also great for handling everyday prints like work documents or school assignments.

Pros

  • The best all-around option!  Includes print/ scan / fax capabilities and prints amazing photos
  • Compact and storable, great for home offices or even kitchen tables
  • Front and rear paper trays can handle up to 100 sheets of legal sized paper or 20 sheets of 4”x6” photo paper

Cons

  • Accessing the paper tray is a little annoying, you need to lift up on the front printer face and it will remain open for the duration of your print job.

 The ink cartridges:  The printer uses five cartridges offered in three sizes (standard yield, high yield and extra high yield). Two of those required cartridges contain black ink, with the larger PGI-280 pigment black cartridge handling text and the CLI-281 dye-based cartridge covering photo prints.


Best Wide-Format Photo Printer

Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 – Buy on Amazon

If you want to print even better home photos but don’t quite need something as fancy as the Pro-200, the Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 is a good middle of the road option.  Featuring 6 different ink cartridges and easy to use wireless functionality, this is the perfect printer for DIY projects, presentations, and photo shoots.

Pros

  • Dependable, fast, and capable of producing brilliant print results page after page
  • Offers a variety of high-quality borderless photo sizes, including 4″x 6″, 12″x 12″ and 13″x 19″ (wide format)
  • Includes a 200-sheet front tray and 50-sheet rear tray that’s designed for specialty media like card stock.

Cons

  • With 6 cartridges to replace, cartridge costs can get expensive if you print frequently.

 The ink cartridges:  Works with 6 individual ink cartridges: black, cyan, magenta, yellow, red and gray.  We recommend going with the high yield version If you print a lot.  An original Epson 312XL high yield black cartridge goes for $19.89, and the color cartridges go for $22.89 at a yield of 500 pages each.  LD brand compatible cartridges are available for a fraction of the cost – our high yield black is just $11.99 and each color cartridge is $12.99.


Best High-Volume Photo Printer

Epson EcoTank Photo ET-8500 – Buy on Amazon

EcoTank printers are one of the most ink efficient printer options available thanks to the high-capacity ink bottles they use to create print.  Epson designed the Photo ET-8500 specifically for high volume photo prints, so if you regularly need to print a ton of lab quality photos from the comfort of home, this printer is a worthy investment.  Along with the expected print / scan / copy features, it supports a wide range of media too, including photo paper, presentation paper, fine art papers, card stock and CD / DVDs.

Pros

  • Includes print / copy / scan options
  • Able to print a 4×6-inch photo for about 4 cents and 8.5 x 11 borderless photos
  • Includes 3 paper trays: 100-sheet front tray / 50-sheet rear tray / 20-sheet photo tray

Cons

  • Not capable of wide-format printing

 The ink bottles: The EcoTank Photo ET-8500 uses 6 Epson 552 ink bottles. The pigment black 552 series ink bottle prints up to 6,700 pages, a dye-based photo black prints up to 7,300 pages, a gray bottle prints up to 46,000 pages and cyan, magenta and yellow bottles average 6,200 pages each.


Best Professional Photo Printer

Canon PIXMA Pro 200 – Buy on Amazon

 Serious home photographers and graphic designers will love the Canon PIXMA Pro 200.  Released in 2020, this printer prints beautiful, true to life photos and art prints using dye-based ink that is specially designed for an enhanced color gamut, so you get professional photo quality every time.

Pros 

  • Delivers amazing, professional-grade print quality at fast print speeds
  • An 8-color dye-based ink system (including gray and light gray) brings your photos to life on a variety of paper types and sizes, including borderless prints up to 13” x 19”
  • Includes Canon’s professional print and layout software, making it easy to manage your workflow and preview and edit photos, while working alongside preferred programs like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

 Cons 

  • Larger than most standard home inkjet printers
  • High upfront costs

The ink cartridges: This printer uses 8 dye-based CLI-65 ink cartridges, available in black, cyan, magenta, yellow, light gray, gray, photo magenta and photo cyan.  The ink cartridges are somewhat harder to find right now since this is a newer printer model, but LD Products will be offering a compatible version of this series soon, sign up to be notified when they become available.


*Savings based on price comparison between remanufactured/compatible cartridge prices on www.LDProducts.com and OEM cartridge and printer prices from the listed retailers: Amazon and Staples. All products are reviewed independently. As an Amazon associate, LD Products earns from qualifying purchases through links on this page.  All prices effective as of January 19, 2022.  OEM names are registered trademarks of their respective owners and are not affiliated with, and do not endorse LD Products.

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