Special printers for digital pix

I’m starting to do more with digital photography. My wife and I both have digital cameras and are starting to take more and more pictures. These pictures look fine on our computer monitors but if we want printed copies the results leave something to be desired. Therefore I just ordered a new Epson “photo” printer.

Most of us have been using standard color inkjet printers like my older HP 890C. They work fine for documents and reasonably well for color photographs. Unfortunately they use older types of inks and the images fade in a short time if exposed to light.

My new printer, an Epson R800, uses newer “pigment” inks in an array of eight cartridges. There are advantages and disadvantages to these inks and this arrangement that I will try to explain.

Inkjet printers use two primary types of inks; dye and pigment. Both are water based but are made differently. Dye inks are thin and dye the paper upon which they are printed. They tend to fade in a short time when exposed to light or pollution but have very vivid colors and lower cartridge cost. Most come in two cartridge printer sets; black and a three color combined cartridge.

The newer higher end “photo” printers supposedly are optimized for printing on high quality special photo papers and use pigment inks. These inks are made “thicker” and supposedly have color fastness that is measured in decades. They possibly have colors that are not quite as vivid as dye inks but use printing processes that make them almost equal. Because my new Epson is manufactured specifically for photo printing it comes with a color palette of cyan-magenta-yellow-red- blue and different shades of black. It also has a gloss overlay cartridge that is supposed to tame some of the undesirable effects of pigment inks. I will let you know how all this works once my printer arrives.

I plan to use my new printer for making larger prints of photos that we may want to frame or otherwise keep. For our so called “record” photos, those we might simply want to throw in a drawer or paste into an album, we probably will upload them to Costco and get generic 4 by 6 prints. This still is less expensive than printing copies at home and the results are satisfactory.

Incidentally, I still get questions about the entire process of taking the pictures and then preparing them for printing. In my case, I take the pictures from our digital cameras by means of the camera’s USB cord that connects to my computer. I download these photographs into arbitrary Folders that I title to match the photo subjects. Then I open Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 and take in each photograph, crop as desired and adjust the photo to make necessary corrections. I then “Save As” the corrected photos to a new Folder. Now I have a Folder of photos that are ready for printing.

There are many varieties of photo printers. Mine simply prints. Others have slots for camera storage cards, viewing screens, minor manipulating capabilities and can print directly without being connected to a computer. To view many of these printers, visit MicroCenter or look on the Internet.

If you would like to hear more about photo printers, or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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