Even the cheapest inkjet printer allows you to produce great quality photo prints at home. However, to get the best quality prints from any inkjet you'll need to make sure you start with a good quality image and then set your printer up correctly.
Here are six tips that can help you produce great the very best looking prints time after time on your home printer.
Tip 1: Edit your images before printing
Garbage in, garbage out goes the old adage and that's never been more true than when printing photos.
To get great looking prints you need to start with a good image so before you print a picture you should edit it first. Crop the image to make sure the print focuses on the most interesting aspect of the photo, fix any red-eye problems and adjust the exposure if the image looks too bright or too dark.
These are all simple edits you can make in Windows Photo Gallery or by using one of these free photo-editing programs, so you don’t need expensive photo editing software.
Tip 2: Get the resolution right
In order for an image to look sharp when it's printed out it needs to have a resolution of around 300 dots per inch.
That means if you create a 4×6-inch print, it needs to be at least 1200x1800 pixels in size and for a 5×7-inch print you should aim for 1500x2100 pixels. If you try to print lower resolution images at these print sizes they will just look blurry.
Tip 3: Select the right type of paper
To produce good results you really need to use proper photo paper. Standard printer paper absorbs too much ink and washes out or overly darkens colours in photos, while also destroying fine detail.
For the sharpest print quality choose glossy photo paper, but if you prefer a less shiny look opt for semi-gloss or matte instead. It's not as good for reproducing fine detail, but many people like its more natural look.
Tip 4: Choose the correct print settings
Before you send any pictures to your printer make sure you've got it set up with the right printer settings.
In your printer's control panel check that you've got the right size of paper selected and also the right type of paper. Your printer applies ink in slightly different ways according to whether you are using glossy or matte photo paper, so make sure you've chosen the correct setting.
Tip 5: Ration your ink
Ink for inkjet printers is expensive, so don't waste it. Higher quality print settings use a lot more ink than lower settings, but depending on the type of photo you are printing and the quality of the paper that you're printing onto, you may not notice much of a difference to the printed image.
Try printing using lower quality settings to check the results. If they look good to you then there's no reason to step up to higher quality settings that will drain your cartridges faster.
Tip 6: Clean and align your print head
If your prints are coming out with streaks or look off a bit off-colour, try cleaning your printer nozzles or aligning the print head.
Both these tasks can be run from either your printer's hardware control panel or the printer's software on your computer. Don’t keep needlessly repeating the printer nozzle clean programme though, as the cleaning process tends to use up quite a bit of ink.