11 photo printing mistakes every photographer makes (and how to fix them)

11 photo printing mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Making prints can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography, but there are a few common mistakes that photographers make that can have them tearing their hair out. Our Head of Testing, Angela Nicholson, outlines the photo printing problems that can arise and explains how to avoid them.

11 photo printing mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Photo printing mistakes: 1. Dust marks

It doesn’t matter how long you spent waiting for the right conditions for a shoot, or how carefully you tweaked the image to get the colour and contrast just right before adding the perfect border if there’s a spec on the print. It will drive you mad.

Even just the tiniest mark that isn’t visible when the image fills the screen will jump out at you when an image is printed and hung on the wall.

Make sure that you check every image at 100% on screen and use guides to ensure that you look at every part of the shot, touching up any marks with the clone or healing tools as you go.

As a rule, the earlier that you do this in the image-editing process the better.

If you find a mark consistently appearing in the same place in your images then it’s time to clean your sensor.

SEE MORE: 20 questions you need to ask about how to print photos

Photo printing mistakes: 2. Image size confusion

Digital images are made up of pixels and the number of pixels defines their size, but they have no physical dimensions until they are printed.

A print’s resolution is the number of pixels that are used to make every inch and typically it should be kept high.

The most commonly quoted ideal printing resolution is 300ppi (pixels per inch).

However, Epson recommends printing at resolutions that are multiples of 180ppi with its printers, so 360ppi is a good starting point.

Use the image’s resolution to guide the maximum size of the print and try to keep it above 240ppi as dropping below this results in progressive softening of prints.

At 300ppi a 24-million-pixel image, which is has 6000×4000 pixels makes a 50.8×33.87cm (20×13.3inchh) print, or a 42.33×28.22cm (16.67×11.11inch) print at 360ppi.

Dropping the image resolution to 240ppi expands the print to 63.5×42.33cm (25×16.67inches).

A printer’s resolution is measured in drops per inch (dpi) and it specifies how many droplets of ink are used to make up the print. Several droplets maybe required to make-up a single pixel.

PAGE 1 – Photo printing mistakes: dust marks, image size confusion
PAGE 2 – Photo printing mistakes: using the wrong profile, using an uncalibrated monitor
PAGE 3 – Photo printing mistakes: using cheap inks, colours out of gamut
PAGE 4 – Photo printing mistakes: wrong paper size, paper too thick, printer handling the colour
PAGE 5 – Photo printing mistakes: blocked nozzles, using the same paper


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  • Trevor

    DPI meant “dots per inch” . . . and NOT “drops per inch” . . . what you have said referring to ” Several droplets maybe required to make-up a single pixel” is absolute nonsense. :(