This article looks at the issues surrounding printing digital photos and other graphics using an ink printer. It is aimed at users who may not have a lot of technical expertise but who can, with a little help from articles like this, get the best from their equipment.

It is written in New Zealand, for NZers, and while the information may be useful in other countries, it is not intended for use outside New Zealand.

Benchmark your performance

When you buy a new ink printer print some photos using the complimentary paper supplied by the manufacturer. This gives you a benchmark of the performance of your printer and when you use different inks, paper or software you have the original standard of performance to compare against.

Maintain your printer

Look after your printer. Keep it clean and cover it when not in use. Use it regularly. The ink is the lubricant that helps maintain the print heads in good condition so regular use is beneficial. Have it professionally cleaned and serviced, at least annually, more often if you use it heavily. Following these few simple steps will prolong the life of your printer and enhance the quality of your prints.

Troubleshoot methodically

If you’re not happy with your printed page then troubleshoot the problem using the following method:-

1. Print a nozzle test to see that all nozzles are firing. You will find the nozzle test in the printer software under a heading such as “maintenance”, “service”, “utilities” etc.

2. If all nozzles are not firing then run the print head cleaning utility and print another nozzle test to see if cleaning has made a difference.

At this point if you are using Print Head Cartridges put new ink cartridges in the printer. If you are using Non Print Head Cartridges then carry on. If you are not sure about your ink cartridges see the article “Printer Ink – Choosing the right cartridges for your needs”.

3. Repeat the above two steps until you get a good nozzle test. If you don’t get a good test after repeating these two steps at least six times seek help from a qualified printer servicing company.

Warning – cleaning print heads uses ink so you may run low on ink before you get a good result. And a good result is not guaranteed – the print head may have failed.

4. Having either got a good nozzle test, or having changed your print head cartridges, and you are still not happy – what else has changed?

* Are you using the printer manufacturer’s software to print your photos? Other software, perhaps supplied free with photo paper or over the internet, may be easier to use but may not get the best out of the printer.

* Does your printer need servicing? Despite 碳粉 all the care you have taken printers do get dirty and ink or dust in the wrong place can have some surprising effects, particularly in photographs.

* Have you changed the paper you use? Some photo papers and some inks can be incompatible.

* Have you changed the ink you use? Some inks and papers can be incompatible and some inks can react chemically with other inks.

Provided you buy your printer ink and paper from a reputable company they should help you to work through these issues to your satisfaction. Our experience at Second Image is that these problems are generally solved before, or by, the printer servicing step.

Alternative ink and paper If you are doing a lot of photo printing you will find that the cost of original ink and the paper can be quite high.

Alternatives are available and, provided you buy from a trustworthy source, will generally give you good results. If you have done the benchmark exercise suggested earlier you can now compare results.

See the associated article “Printer Ink- Choosing the right cartridges for your needs” for a guide to buying compatible ink cartridges, refilled ink cartridges and ink refill kits. There is nothing wrong with using these alternatives provided you first do your homework and deal with a reputable supplier.

Some papers are incompatible with some inks. This incompatibility can occur between the original manufacturers as well as between original and third party products. The best thing to do is to find a mix of ink and paper that gives you the results you are happy with and stick to that.

Such an approach may mean that you need to experiment with different papers and inks. Remember the golden rule – only change one thing at a time, ink or paper, never both while you are testing, and only use the software supplied by the manufacturer with the printer. When you are happy with your ink and paper combination you can play with different software.



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