Photos play an important role in small businesses in nearly every industry. If your company uses photos in any way—for marketing materials or in-house communications—you can cut costs, save time and streamline workflow by printing your own images with a photo printer. Thanks to technological advances, photo printers from major manufacturers produce images that rival prints made from traditional film processing. These popular and useful devices start at as little as $50 but can go up to more than $10,000 for the most sophisticated models. Photo printers fall into three basic categories: inkjet printers, dedicated photo printers and professional photo printers. Pictures printed on a photo printer can be used to:
1. Jazz up marketing materials.
2. Improve customer and in-house communications.
3. Provide a record of your products.
4. Provide a record of completed projects.
5. Provide a record of inventory purchases or shipments.
6. Provide visual “notes” for planning.
7. Providing a record of your equipment for insurance purposes.
Inkjet photo printersThese printers produce quality photos and can also be used for all other business printing purposes. Inkjet photo printers generally have slower printing times for photos than dedicated photo printers, but may be adequate for your needs if you print photos only on an occasional basis.
Dedicated photo printersPrinters that only print photos are called dye-sublimation, or “dye-sub”, printers because their printing process involves solid dyes instead of inks or toner. These photo printers provide very high quality and speedy output, but require special paper. The majority of these models will only print photos up to 4” X 6” in size. Their smaller size makes them highly portable, and some can run on batteries so you can print on the go.
Professional photo printersAnyone who needs superior color accuracy and exquisite quality that won’t fade should choose a professional photo printer. Most professional photo printers offer at least tabloid-size (11” X 17”) output. Some models can print much larger images, such as 60-inch wide posters.
Printing photos without a PC connectionPhoto printers that have PictBridge technology enable you to connect a digital camera directly to the printer to print out your images without the use of a computer. Your camera also needs to be equipped with PictBridge to take advantage of this capability.
Choosing the right paperYour choice of paper can greatly affect the quality of your photos. Using inkjet paper in a dye-sub printer may cause damage and vice-versa. Most manufacturers offer their own brand of paper, and you can buy directly from their Web sites, but you can save money by shopping for paper at discount Web sites. Cut costs further by using inexpensive paper for in-house uses.
Photo printer suppliesThe costs of ink cartridges and ribbons can add up quickly if you print a lot of photos. Some manufacturers sell ribbons or ink cartridges in bundles with photo paper. With these packs, the number of prints you can get from the ink or ribbon matches the number of sheets of paper supplied, making it easy to analyze your photo-printing costs.
Visit the HP Printing and Imaging Expertise CenterHP sells more printers, including photo printers, to small businesses worldwide than any other company.
- With photo printers, price doesn’t necessarily indicate quality; higher prices are often due to speedier output and additional features.
- Consider the colors included. Standard photo printers use four colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Higher-end models add additional colors. If you use a lot of black-and-white photos, consider models that have gray ink or variations of black ink.
- To judge output quality, ask for samples from the manufacturers of the printers you’re considering.
- Most dye-sub printers use a clear overcoating to protect images and prevent fading, but many inkjet printers don’t. If you're considering an inkjet printer, inquire whether or not it offers this protection.