Most inkjet printers that produce quality photos are marketed as photo printers. Such printers use more sophisticated driver software to translate the digital camera's data into instructions for the ink sprayers. For six colors, dilute versions of Cyan and Magenta inks are used. Eight color inkjet photo printers are also available. The additional colors are a light shade of yellow and a grey.
Manufacturers have also brought out printers using technologies like Dye Sublimation technology. Solid dyes are used instead of inks or toners. These colored dyes are in the form of roll or ribbon. The solid dyes are converted directly to vaporous state by the heating elements and the vapor absorbed into the print media. The amount of vapor transferred and absorbed by the paper can be controlled by controlling the temperature of the heating element. With precise control of heat correct intensity of the picture can be obtained. Color is laid down in continuous tones one color at a time. The absorption of the ink gives more photo realistic affects. They are more durable and less resistant to fading.
Technical Features to be assessed while buying a photo printer:
Image displays - Photo printers manufactured especially for photographers have features like big image displays LCD screens. Color LCD screens in sizes ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 inches are helpful to preview pictures, crop them, choose the ones to be printed, and specify the print sizes. These provide image editing functions like red eye removal, color effects, and adjust layout, sharpness, brightness, and borderless printing.
Bypass PC feature - Photo printers with media card slots and PictBridge support can bypass PCs. PictBridge camera can be connected to the printer without removing the memory card to take photo prints. The portable models have all these features and come with built-in media card reader that is capable of uploading images to PC. Memory cards enable fast copy and download of data, store lots of information and retain data even without camera battery power.
Speed - Photo printers can zip through the photos quickly but when it comes to printing normal text the photo printers are slower than the normal inkjet printers.
Resolution - Getting lab-quality photos at home depends on factors like resolution i.e. the dpi and the paper quality. With higher resolutions it is possible to get sharper images. The technology that is used matters a lot and influences the quality of the output directly. An inkjet photo printer with 2400dpi cannot match the output of 300 dpi dye sublimation printers. The inkjet prints are a cluster of many drops of ink hence the continuity can be obtained only with very high resolution. Color gradations i.e. combining colors by using a series of gradual changes, are important in photo printing. This is possible with dye-sub printers.
Ink and print media - Original ink and specially coated paper give superb photo prints. A printer compatible with large array of print media can save the trouble of cutting down the picture to required size. The Epson Stylus Photo R800 ($399) features UltraChrome Hi-Gloss pigment inks for archival prints on matte and glossy media. the R800 produces long-lasting photos that can resist fading up to 80 years by using the new inks and Epson matte or glossy media.