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iLife '04: The Missing Manual by David Pogue

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Chapter 10. Prints and Books

Using iPhoto to print your pictures is pretty easy. But making great prints—the kind that rival traditional film-based photos in their color and image quality—involves more than simply hitting the Print command.

One key factor, of course, is the printer itself. You need a good color inkjet printer that can produce photo-quality printouts. Fortunately, getting such a printer these days is pretty easy and inexpensive. Even some of the cheapo inkjet printers from Epson, HP, and Canon can produce amazingly good color images—and they cost less than $100. (Of course, you make it up to the printer company on the back end when you buy more ink cartridges. Depending on how many prints you make, what you spend on these expensive cartridges can easily double or triple the cost of the printer in a year.)

Even with the best printer, however, you can end up with disappointing results if you fail to consider at least three other important factors when trying to coax the best possible printouts from your digital photos. These factors include the resolution of your images, the settings on your printer, and your choice of paper.

Resolution and Shape

Resolution is the number of individual pixels squeezed into each inch of your digital photo. The basic rule is simple: The higher your photo’s resolution, or dpi (dots per inch), the sharper, clearer, and more detailed the printout will be. If the resolution is too low, you end up with a printout that looks blurry or speckled. ...

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