In these modern times of digital cameras, less and less people print their photos. Many people now only upload the photos to a photo-sharing web site such as Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, SmugMug and others. And perhaps they share the images directly in a social setting by showing the pictures on an iPhone or iPOD.
But for those few people who do like the idea of printing a photo and holding it in their hands or making an album or perhaps framing the print and keeping it displayed on a wall or a shelf, the following tips might be useful:
Tip #1: Don't print on a dye-based inkjet printer.
Dye-based inks are not stable. The colours will fade and change within a relatively short time like two or three years, depending on the environmental conditions.
Click on the "PHOTO PRESERVATION" tab above, to see my other page for more detail about the life expectancy of printed photographs.
Tip #2: Use a good quality LCD screen on your computer.
Cheap LCD screens don't show accurate colours. A good screen will cost about from three to ten times the price of a cheap one. The best computer LCD screens I found in my direct personal experience are made by Eizo. My Eizo Flexscan S2000 nineteen inch screen cost me HKD6,000. I later bought a cheaper screen of another brand for HKD2,000. It was a huge disappointment. The colour accuracy is so bad. I gave the screen away. I just couldn't tolerate the awful colour rendition. In short, it was horribly blue by comparison to the Eizo. I recently upgraded my workstation and added an Eizo ColorEdge 243W. Wow! What a difference... I now get a near perfect match between what I see on the screen and what I print out with my printer. Frustration and wasted paper and ink is a thing of the past.
The reason that the colour accuracy of the screen is important is so you'll have a reasonably accurate preview of what the photo will look like when you print it out. If the screen is bad, what you print on paper will never look the same as the screen. You'll find it a frustrating experience when trying to make the prints look good, because what looks good on a bad screen will look horrible on the printer.
The overall subject covering this problem is called "colour management". There are many good web sites that explain the challenges and solutions to colour management in detail. Just do a Google search for "color management" (American spelling).