Printing alternatives

Odds are that you use an inkjet printer to put your photos on paper. Although inkjet printers are the most popular and perhaps the most practical, you do have alternatives. If, for example, your work consists of brochures and flyers rather than photos, a color laser printer might better fit your needs. The initial cost is generally higher than all except wide-format inkjets, but the cost per page is much lower. Color laser printers generally don't print photographs as well as a mid- to high-end inkjet, and the prints are not archival (they won't last for a whole lot of years without fading), but such prints might be just fine for sharing snapshots among friends and family. The print options for a color laser printer (such as the Print dialog box you see in Figure 4-13) differ from an inkjet's options. Check the User Guide for the specific printer to set up your job correctly.

Dye sublimation printers use rolls of film impregnated with dyes to reproduce prints. Prices range from under $200 to several thousand dollars. The quality and longevity of the prints is generally tied to the price.

Here's another output alternative available to virtually all Photoshop users. Burn your images in JPEG format (highest quality, 300 ppi) onto a CD and take the CD to the local photo lab. Alternatively, use an online service with which you upload your JPEGs to the service's Web service to order prints. You'll get back glossy or matte prints at the size(s) requested. And the cost per print can be substantially less than using your inkjet printer. The local

Figure 4-13: Color laser printer options differ from those for inkjet printers.

photo lab is often a great alternative for stacks of vacation photos and family reunion shots that need to be sent to a whole passel of kin.

Unless your inkjet printer is specifically designed to generate grayscale images, you might want to use the photo lab for such prints. Inkjet printers designed with grayscale in mind output using black ink plus a supplemental light-black or gray ink to increase the tonal range and ensure adequate detail in your shadows. Inkjets that aren't designed to print grayscale can either print using only black ink (which severely limits the detail and tonal range), or they use rich black (black ink supplemented with the additional color inks), which invariably leads to some color tint or color cast in the supposedly neutral grayscale images. It's the nature of the beast — ink droplets are placed near each other, not on top of each other, which leads to the visible tinting of a grayscale image when printed on an inkjet using colored inks. Check the User Guide for your printer: If it doesn't provide specific guidance for printing grayscale, send your black-and-white images to the local photo lab for output.

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