Digital Photo Printing Tips

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Why would you need a digital printing service?

The Print Shop

Let's say you're hosting a big New Year's Eve party , and you plan to invite the entire neighborhood. With a digital camera, a computer and the right software, you can design a pretty cool party flyer. But the real challenge comes when you're ready to print your flyers out. Your home printer can handle a lot... but photo-quality invitations for the entire neighborhood may be a bit much.

If you're looking to print a large number of quality flyers (or similar) your best bet may be a digital print service. Office centers such as Fedex Office (formerly FedEx Kinko's) can take your flyer and print out hundreds of copies in a fraction of the time - and for less money - than doing it yourself.

FedEx Office has another feature Windows users can appreciate. You can download your files for printing directly from your home computer. Plus, you can have the completed prints delivered - so you won't even have to leave the house!

   
What are the benefits of using an online digital photo website for photo prints?

Digital Prints With a Click of Your Mouse

Digital photography saves you money on film (once you've covered the cost of the memory card, that is). But the price of ink and photo paper can boost the cost of a 4" x 6" print made on your home printer to 25 cents or more. But there's a much cheaper way to get quality prints.

Websites such as Kodak Gallery (www.kodakgallery.com) and Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com) let you upload prints into albums and will make true photographic prints from your digital files for as little as 15 cents each - sometimes even less.

"Membership" at most of these sites is free, and sometimes comes with a limited number of free prints. Even when you add in the shipping, these sites are usually less expensive than printing at home. And the prints are more durable than the inkjet prints you can make.

Just one note of caution: Most of these sites offer only a limited amount of storage for your digital photo files, so you may eventually have to delete some pictures to upload more to the site.

   
How are computer printers more in tune to digital photographer needs?

Look Ma, No Computer!

Printer manufacturers have become more in-tune with digital photo printing. Today, some printers are designed to be nearly as compact as the photos themselves so you can take them anywhere.

For example, Epson's PictureMate series prints up to 4" x 6" photos directly from your camera (via a USB connection) or flash drive. The PictureMate is about the size of a lunch box and weighs only 6.6 lbs. - so you can take it along without worrying about space or weight.

The PictureMate also has built-in slots for CompactFlash (Type I and II), Secure Digital, SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick, Microdrive (Type M/H) and xD-Picture Card. Plus, it features a surprisingly large - 3.6" - LCD screen to preview your photos.

A nice added feature on the "Zoom" model is a built-in CD burner... so you can archive your pictures right from the printer.

Of course, you can use the Epson PictureMate with your computer, too. It connects via a standard USB cable, and is compatble with both Macs and PC's.

   
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PJ Campbell