It used to be that photography was all about prints - after all, what’s the use of taking about a hundred pictures on a holiday, and not being able to show them off. And printing was the only way to showcase photographic works.
In today’s digital age, one is no longer trammeled by that restriction. There are any number of platforms on which to share a picture – from the camera screen, to smartphone and tablet displays to even digital televisions. But these cannot quite replace the charm of a printed photograph, despite all their portability and convenience.
Sure, there are several companies that offer online printing at great prices, but this takes time, and the companies require a minimum number of prints. They may even edit your pictures, which can be maddening.
This week we look at colour printers you can use at home to print digital photographs.
LG PD 223
“Expensive” is the first thought, when we see the price tag. But the list of features throw a different light on this printer. The PD 223 fits inside your pocket, has NFC (nearfield communications) and Bluetooth, runs on a built-in battery, and does not need ink cartridges. Everything is on the paper, which too costs a bundle — Rs. 1,099 for 30 sheets. You need to have the LG Pocket Photo app (available for Android and iOS). Pair your phone or digital device with the printer via NFC or Bluetooth, and you can fire your print direct from the device. The PD 223 prints a maximum of 2” x 3” size, at a resolution of 313 dpi, and it takes less than a minute to print a copy.
The application lets you put in text, QR codes and also change the layout of the picture. The 2”x3” is good to fit into your wallet, and the battery can handle 25 prints before needing a recharge via USB. Printing cost translates to Rs. 37 per print, roughly (apart from the cost of the printer), but the instant gratification of being able to share the print makes it worth the money spent.
The downside is that the printer works only with phones. And if you want prints in larger size, sorry.
You cannot print from a PC or a memory card, USB or any other medium. You can use Bluetooth to pair the printer with a laptop, but the LG Pocket Photo app does not have a PC version!
Canon Selphy 810
Compared to the PD 223, the Selphy appears gigantic, and needs dedicated space on your desk. But the printer gives much more than the LG. It uses an ink cartridge, and has a small LCD screen that shows the image being printed. You can print from SD card, CF card, USB port or connect your camera directly with the pictbridge port. The maximum print size is a decent 4” x 6”. The prints come out clear and vivid, and take about a minute.
We found the photos to be appealing to a test audience to whom we showed the prints.
The printer also lets you do some basic editing — crop images, colour correction, red eye reduction, manage saturation etc — and can be connected to a computer as well. It uses a D/C adapter for power, and Canon also talks of an optional battery pack, though we were unable to find this in the market. The paper comes in 108 sheets (Rs 1,499), with ink transfer cartridges and paper. A print costs roughly Rs. 15.
The price is commensurate with the features. The Epson L1800 is used even by professional photography shops. It connects to a computer via USB, and has a six-colour ink-tank. This means more vivid prints, and cheaper ink. The ink costs Rs. 595 per bottle, so the full tank costs Rs. 3,570, and Epson claims one can print 1,800 photographs — translating to roughly Rs. 2 per print. Add the cost of the paper (Rs 5 to Rs. 10 per sheet, depending on quality) and it works out to a maximum of Rs. 12 per print.
The main advantage of the L800 is that you can print a proper colour-corrected photo from your computer, and it can also double up as your regular office/home printer. Each photo takes roughly half a minute to print, and size ranges from 4”x6” to A4. The downside is that your computer to be on for printing.
Each printer comes with its own pros and cons. The LG is ultra-portable, but costs a bomb and can print only from phones. The Selphy is a dedicated photo printer and can work without a computer, while the Epson works only with the PC on, but gives professional quality prints at a budget price. Take your pick!