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Thread: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

  1. #1

    some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Hi,
    I'd like some good advice on what sort of DPI to look for. I've been looking around for a colour laser printer and have a few questions about what resolution to get.

    1. the pictures my camera takes is 300 DPI (dots per inch) when set on best quality, (which is what I use.) So far my research has shown this is what magazines will use and that any DPI above that on a printer will just be ignored and basically a waste. If so why do most printers go way above that often into the thousands?

    2. could someone please explain the horizontal and vertical combination i.e. 600 x 300 DPI, surely it should print at the same quality in both the horizontal and the vertical? I'm either going onto the twilight zone here or am missing something that's probably obvious.

    3. My old printer is a Canon Pixma MP160 with 4800 x 1200 DPI it is getting a bit old now (hence the search for a new one) but it has problems giving a decent print higher than a 6 x 4 photograph and that's on the best quality setting, using good paper and after going through the expensive rigmarole of cleaning the heads. saying this it is an inkjet printer can I expect better results from a laser printer? either with a lower, similar or higher DPI?

    4. I have my camera set on "large" picture size. would choosing a smaller size have any difference on the print result?

    and finally
    5. just info people might need rather than a question really . . .
    I use a Nikon D5100 set to best quality and large picture (as stated) total 16.9 million pixels / effective 16.2 million pixels (not sure what that difference is for but that's the spec's.) I am looking to print some exceptionally good quality prints at 10 x 8 (more or less A4) pictures are at 300dpi what should I be looking at for the spec's in a laser printer please?

    any help would be appreciated
    thanks B.B.

  2. #2

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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    I offer no advice on printers simply I don't believe that they are a cost effective product for the average photographer. After you factor in paper/ink/ costs, the associated soft-proofing aggravation, clogged heads and, the myriad of other snafus that will occur, it makes a lot more sense to use Cosco/MPix/BayPhoto/etc.

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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Billy some basic questions before getting into printing, are you shooting in RAW or jpegs, it sounds like jpegs, are you using any software to process you images or are you taking them directly from camera to printer. Have you adjusted any of the camera defaults to get a better looking image ie: sharpening, contrast, saturation. What is the problem with a printed image larger than 4x6 compared to the 4x6.
    Just a note your camera is formatted to take a image in a unit of measure of 2 units up by 3 units across, you want to print 8x10 which is 2 units up by 2.5 units across so you would have to crop all your images to fix a 8x10 format whereas the natural size your image if increased would be 8x12 maybe you should think about a printer that will print up to 13 x19 this would allow you to print an image 12 x18 also you would be able to printer smaller images on smaller stock.
    Not knowing where you live I have to agree with Chauncey it maybe better to send a few images to an outsider printer instead of the outlay of money to print a few, that said I know the feeling of holding that shot just after it has come off the printer into your hands and it is just right.

    Cheers:

    Allan
    PS please go into your setting and add your location so I and others can tell you where to go (that is to find what your want)

  4. #4
    benm's Avatar
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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    DPI is only used in printing. Your D5100, set to large jpg, will provide an image with pixel dimensions of 4,928 x 3,264. If you send that to the printer and specify 300 dpi then you print will be 16.4 inches x 11.4 inches (4928/300 and 3264/300).

    If you set your camera to medium or small picture size your image will have fewer pixels and you will only be able to print smaller (or larger with less quality).

    If your Canon printer is not printing a nice looking 6 x 4 then you need to investigate your printer settings or your printer has some mechanical problem.

    I am not up to date on laser printers but I thought they did not do as well as inkjet for photographs.

  5. #5
    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Hi, Billy; welcome to CiC!

    I managed to pick up a refurbished Minolta/QMS MagiColor 330 EX from the Minolta online store back in 2004; just a beautiful color laser printer and I grabbed it at one tenth of the original list price (but had to hover over their site for about 8 months before one became available; a trade-in, I think).

    At that time, QMS printers were considered to be the peak of color lasers and this one still prints superb images. It was designed as a prepress printer, meaning it was used to proof print jobs before they were sent to press. Of course, basic photostatic technology has been in place since about the 1930's, so a really good laser printer isn't going to be one-upped by any major innovations.

    To answer your questions:

    My printer has a 1200 X 1200 dpi resolution, but I have never been able to see any difference between images printed out at that resolution and ones that are printed at 600 X 600 dpi. In fact, I print my Photoshop edited images from InDesign, because I can use the "optimized subsampleing" option that greatly reduces file size and print times. Oh, did I mention that the 330 EX can print up to an 11" X 17" image on 13" X 19" paper? And it does so with spectacular results. The bigger the better, in fact; because in smaller images the dots of the halftone screening process are proportionally a larger component of the images.

    Where 1200 dpi resolution becomes important is, with text and vector images which need a high resolution to successfully anti-alias and avoid the "jagglies" of a pixelated font. That's also where a "true" 1200 X 1200 resolution is important, more so with things like architectural drawings because only a true resolution like that will render diagonal lines accurately (without little jumps and steps associated with a resolution mismatch between horizontal and vertical.

    However, since the eye scans more accurately from side-to-side than it does up-and-down, printers designed primarily for images (ink jests) try to get away with less vertical resolution than they have in the horizontal plane. I guess it works.

    One thing my printer does is print using Adobe RGB color space; so I can shoot, edit, and print my photos using that color space, which is larger than the standard sRGB space used so often.

    As for image quality: well, toner is a solid plastic polymer that is melted into the paper by the laser printer's fuser drum; so, it is pretty permanent. The color is also very vibrant: yellow, magenta, cyan and black toners of good quality give very beautiful images that are much better than what one sees in any magazine. A particle of toner is microscopic, and doesn't spread when it hits the paper like a drop of ink necessarily does, so it is capable of producing very fine resolution. All good; but one drawback (maybe) is that the fusing process makes the surface of the toner very glossy (which some people do not like).

    Color laser printers are often much more expensive than ink jets; usually this is because of the software that comes with them, which includes Rasterized Image Processing (RIP) software. I let my printer do all of its own conversions from RGB to CMYK, because the RIP it has is superior to the one which Photoshop or InDesign uses. However, this initial outlay in cost is offset over time by the fact that you can use any paper and that toner is much cheaper than ink. If you use archival quality (acid free) paper, then melting a solid polymer right into it is going to give you a very permanent image.

    One drawback is that the laser printer will only go up to a certain size, and anything larger becomes too cumbersome. This is because the laser electrostatically charges a vinyl belt that the toner sticks to before being transferred on to the paper, so you actually need a belt that is as wide as and larger than twice the length of the paper.

    On the plus side, laser prints are waterproof: the color never run. If you are ever thinking of making your own postcards, for instance, a color laser is the way to go. Look for one with a flat feed option if you can find one in your price range so that you can use thicker stock if you need to.

    Be sure to check how thick of a piece of paper it can handle: the fuser has to heat through the paper to melt the toner, and some laser printer's can't handle thicker paper.

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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Quote Originally Posted by benm View Post
    DPI is only used in printing. Your D5100, set to large jpg, will provide an image with pixel dimensions of 4,928 x 3,264. If you send that to the printer and specify 300 dpi then you print will be 16.4 inches x 11.4 inches (4928/300 and 3264/300).

    If you set your camera to medium or small picture size your image will have fewer pixels and you will only be able to print smaller (or larger with less quality).
    (...)
    Sorry, but you are mixing up DPI (Dots Per Inch), which is for printers and specifies the ink drops produced (and is usually quite high, 1200 DPI is not at all unusual)
    with PPI (Pixels Per Inch) which is what's used in photography and printing to specify the resolution in image elements (and there 300 PPI is often quoted).

    The high DPI values allow the printer to dither each pixel, and that, in theory at least, allows more different colours.

    As a side note: the often quoted 'requirement' of a 300 PPI image to get a good print is at best only valid for a print observed from a distance of about 30 cm
    (reading distance) by someone with good eyesight. Larger viewing distances accept lower PPIs (luckily, have a close look at a billboard one of these days )

  7. #7
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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Hi Billy,

    Notwithstanding John Morton's top of the range laser, $ for $ (or for ) inkjets offer far superior images to lasers. Modern inks do not run, and if you are really concerned top of the range pigments will ensure that your prints will outlast you.

    The nature of inkjets mean that "vertical" and "horizontal" resolutions are usually different - and both finer than your eye can detect.

    I don't know your particular printer, but my own ip4600 consumer grade photo printer produces A4 size prints that certainly satisfy me. With Canon cartridges the cost per print may be a bit high, but I don't print that many images.

    Haven't researched the current ranges, but you should be able to get a printer (suggest either Canon or Epson) for around $150 or a little more that will produce excellent colour prints.

    Dave

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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Once upon a time I had three cameras from Canon, Panasonic and Nikon. Each had their own native resolution of 72,180,and 300 respectively. This might lead one to assume that Nikon is much better than Canon [ LOL this not a Canikon War message ].
    The fact was that at the time the Nikon was best but it had nothing to do with PPI or DPI which is just so much garbage until you get to printing images .... but I liked to relate this when I encountered a Canikon War.

    You might say that Canon want to promote how they can make large prints with their cameras whereas Nikon are promoting quality ....but since most of us know it is meaningless I don't understand why it is incorporated.

    I have a HP 1220C which did me well until it started to groove the prints, which a judge commented on, and the local HP mechanic couldn't fix it, which rather hosed me off , particularly the quite steep 'inspection charge' and mostly I now use it for making hard copies of text, going to a shop for prints. I also believe that getting your own printer is not ecconomical for even moderate use.
    Last edited by jcuknz; 30th August 2013 at 10:24 PM.

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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Hi BB
    My suggestion is to get hold of Jeff Schewe's new book "The digital Print" and have a good read. It's a small outlay and might save you making an expensive mistake.
    FWIW I believe you'll get superior prints from your own printer and controlling the process yourself, rather than handing the responsibility over to a commercial outfit. In our country anyway, too few know what they're doing. Nevertheless, the best results won't come cheap, and are unlikely to come from a laser printer these days.
    Cheers
    Tim

  10. #10
    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Hi Billy,

    Some good information regarding printing and image terminology has been given already and I'm not in a position to advise on printers as I'm not conversant with what's on the market and prices.

    As for the consideration of 'cost effectiveness' I would suggest that just about anyone using a computer is going to require a printer as well for such things as letters and the difference in cost between one that will allow you to do this and one that will also allow you to print acceptable images up to 10 x 8 at home is fairly small.

    Grahame

  11. #11
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Most colour laser printers are not particularly good as a photo printer and in fact I would say this includes all laser printers a consumer would be looking at. They are okay for colour graphics, but prints tend to look awful. This is not only colour quality and issue, but the colours often have a very strange reflectivity / sheen. Laser printers fuse pigments to paper and using heat. The toner material is transferred to a electrically charged, polished drum, which in turn is transfered to the paper.

    There are some production printers that use lasers, but these are outside the price range most people would look at.

  12. #12
    davidedric's Avatar
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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Another wrinkle when printing.

    There are two types of resolution, both quoted in dpi, that you may need to be aware of:

    There is one related to the actual size of the dots that the printer produces. This is usually in the thousands per inch, as you quote in your initial post.

    The second is the resolution that your printer requests from the printer software, some times called the "native resolution". This is much smaller. For Canon printers it is normally 300dpi or may be 600dpi for professional inkjets (though it is never quoted in the specs, so far as I know). In Lightroom, for example, you set this in the Print module.

    Don't know if this helps or confuses!

    Information gleaned from reading Jeff Schewe's The Digital Print.

    Dave

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    Re: some advice on DPI please - re looking for a new laser printer

    Quote Originally Posted by davidedric View Post
    Another wrinkle when printing.

    There are two types of resolution, both quoted in dpi, that you may need to be aware of:

    There is one related to the actual size of the dots that the printer produces. This is usually in the thousands per inch, as you quote in your initial post.

    The second is the resolution that your printer requests from the printer software, some times called the "native resolution". This is much smaller. For Canon printers it is normally 300dpi or may be 600dpi for professional inkjets (though it is never quoted in the specs, so far as I know). In Lightroom, for example, you set this in the Print module.

    Don't know if this helps or confuses!

    Information gleaned from reading Jeff Schewe's The Digital Print.

    Dave
    Makes sense to me Dave. This just re-enforces what Remco was saying in post 6 ie that the higher number is the number of dots actually produced by the printer whereas the smaller number is the number of image elements (whether you call them dots or pixels) per inch in the image (when printed at a certain size). With inkjets, several dots are dithered to produce one image element.

    I'm not sure why the dot resolution of an inkjet is different in horizontal and vertical directions but presumably it's related to the mechanics of the printer. One direction involves the print head moving to and fro across the page and the other involves paper feed through.

    Dave

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