Digital Photo Printing

Erasing and formatting a memory card.

Many digital camera owners donít understand the difference between erasing and formatting their digital camera memory card. Both methods of deleting images should be used. Erasing can be done whenever desired, such as when your card is full to capacity and you need more space to take new pictures. A memory card should be formatted several times a year,
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Online Photo Printing.

With the revolution of digital photography, the place of printed photographs in the photography world has changed. No longer is the default simply to shoot a roll of film, and have it printed. Photos can now be shared on the web, emailed, placed in electronic picture frames, or downloaded to cell phones. However, there is still a need and a desire for traditional, printed copies of photographs as well. As digital photography becomes increasingly popular, a problem faced by many consumers is how to turn those digital images into prints. You can certainly print at home using one of the many ink jet printers, digital photo printers or laser printers but the cost will inevitability  be higher than that of the local store offering a digital printing service. But by far the most cost efficient way is to use one of the ever increasing number of online photo printing laboratories.

There are numerous online printing laboratories with many new one's starting up. Most of them allow you to upload images to their site, some even offer you 100s of megabytes of storage space for your images. If you don't have broadband, this can be slow and such storage should NEVER be used as the only method of archiving your images. ALWAYS keep local copies of all your images on your computer, a back-up drive or on a DVD. However uploading the images onto the photo printers server can be a way to share your images with family and friends. Again, these services usually print on "real" photo paper using photo chemistry and longevity is good. Many of them use the Fuji  printers which print the digital files on conventional photo paper using red, green & blue lasers. These are real "photographic" prints  and so should last as long as prints from film do.

Dye-sublimation photo printing.

If you require large top quality prints some online printing laboratories use Dye-sublimation printers for the top end professionals. However, Dye-sublimation printers once the province of high-end photo print shops/mail order processing laboratories, are now increasingly used as dedicated consumer photo printers, which allow you to print photo-lab-quality pictures at home. As the price of these printers are coming down, more digital-camera owners are choosing to take advantage of this technology. So what are the advantages of buying this type of printer?
In dye-sublimation printing colours are not laid down as individual dots as it is done with inkjet printers.
A dye-sublimation printer employs a printing process that uses heat to transfer dye to a medium such as Photo paper, canvas or plastic card. The process is usually to lay one colour at a time using a ribbon that has colour panels. Dye-sublimation printers are
renowned for there high-quality colour applications, which makes them ideal for colour photography. If you cannot justify the cost or quality to go down this route then one of the 'online photo printers' or high street processing shops is the way forward for you.

What's the cost and how do I go about it?
These days there's heavy competition between online printers and most offer not only a number of free prints to new customers, but also very low cost prints when you have to pay for them. The price of a 4x6 print has fallen to as low as £0.05p, but more typically ranges from £0.10p to £0.35p, which is cheaper than printing at home. 
Since so many of these services offer a limited number of free prints, you can shop around and compare results. The downside of these online services is that you have to wait for your prints, and if you're not happy with them you have the hassle of returning them. But that's just the same as mail order prints made from film, and many people are quite happy with that. Generally service is fast and quality is very good though. 

If you have fast broadband service, file size probably won't be a concern for you, but if not, you might want to resize your images (see this article on resizing images) before sending them. A good rule of thumb is that 300ppi (pixels per inch) will give excellent quality, so for a 4x6 print the file should be 1200 x 1800 pixels, for 5x7 it should be 1500 x 2100 pixels and for 8x10 it should be 2400 x 3000 pixels. If your camera doesn't have enough resolution for the larger sizes here, just send the largest possible file or upsize to 300ppi in your image editor using the post possible interpolation technique (as described in the article on image resizing). 3MP cameras make fine 4x6 prints and acceptable one's at 5x7prints, but at 8x10 the lack of pixels can show. If you want to make a lot of 8x10 prints, I'd recommend a camera with at least 7Mpixels or more.

Most of the major on-line printers offer a few free prints for new users, so it's not going to cost you anything to take one, or even a couple of these services out for a "Test Drive"! 


Erasing and formatting a memory card: continued

particularly if its performance seems sluggish.
Format more often if your camera is used frequently.
When you erase a memory card, individual photos are deleted from their directories on the card.

Formatting will delete all images/directories from the memory card. It then remakes the file system including new directories and folders where your images are saved on the memory card. In simple terms it fully cleans up your memory card and improves its overall performance, and makes it ready for use.

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