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The latest photo-quality printers use six unique ink colors, in contrast to the four colors found in a traditional inkjet printer. The extra colors allow for more flexibility with mixing color shades, lending more crispness and realism to their printed photos. Six-color printers often have separate ink cartridges for each color, whereas a four-color photo printer usually has a black ink cartridge plus a single color ink cartridge containing cyan, magenta, and yellow ink tanks.
Photo printers come in all price ranges, from $50 all the way up to more than $500. Most photo printers offer true photo quality, and price differences are generally based on printer features and speeds, rather than the quality of the photos. That being said, while a low-cost printer is usually fine for people whose main goal is to print memorable snapshots, serious photographers will most likely want a high-end printer.
One consideration when choosing your photo printer is the cost of ink and other consumables, like different grades of glossy and matte finish photo paper. When researching potential photo printers, you may be able to print some samples yourself at the store. You can also read online photo printer reviews and learn about other users' experiences with particular color photo printers.
There are three photo printer categories. Ink jet photo printers allow you to print photos, but also work as all-purpose printers. This is a great option if you want just one printer on your desk to perform a variety of functions. The downside to ink jet photo printers is that they're slow.
Most dedicated photo printers are limited to printing on special photo paper. These printers use either ink jet or thermal dye printing technologies; they often enable you to print photos on very small paper.
Professional photo printers are for the serious photographer. They may use ink jet, thermal dye, or laser printing technologies, and they enable printing on large size paper.
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