Toolbox: Inkjet Printers
What you need to know about photo printers today
For practical purposes, 1,440 or maybe 2,880 dpi is plenty for inkjet prints. Beyond that, you probably won't be able to see much difference in a print and will just use up more time and ink per print.
Keep in mind that image resolution (megapixels) and printer resolution (dpi) are two different things. Camera resolution tells you how many pixels make up the image. Printer resolution tells you how the printer puts the ink on the paper. A 6-megapixel image will contain 3,000 pixels across by 2,000 pixels down, regardless of how small or large you view it. A 1,440 dpi printer will print at 1,440 dpi regardless of the image resolution. To make an optimum inkjet print, you should have an image resolution of 200 to 300 pixels per inch of print size.
Inkjet printers use two types of inks: dye-based and pigment-based. Historically, dye-based inks have produced brighter colors but had a shorter print life, while pigment-based inks have produced longer print life but less bright colors. Today, both types produce excellent images and very good print life.
Commercial four-color printing uses four inks to produce full-color images in magazines like this one: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Early inkjet printers worked with inks of these four colors. Today, photo inkjet printer manufacturers use additional inks to produce smoother tonal gradations, better neutral tones and truer colors-up to 10 inks, depending on the model. The first photo inkjets to exceed four inks added light cyan and light magenta inks, which resulted in prints with more color nuances and smoother skin tones. Then came multiple black inks for richer black tones, smoother grayscale gradations, better colors and improved black-and-white prints.