Photo printing: the most common techniques

Overview of photo printing

Sublimation

It is based on a thermal process that allows the printing of the photos through a transfer on the paper of pigments of color that are found on the tapes. Each brand and model of printer uses specific cards and ribbons (the technical term is “ribbon”), so they are not interchangeable. Sublimation printing is typically used for medium-small formats, typically up to 20×30. The costs are constant for each print because the progress of the ribbon is coupled with the progress of the paper.

Generally the printing cost is a few cents for a 10×15. The costs of the printers are around rather high for printers that support at most paper with a maximum width of 20 or 30 cm. Sublimation often used to be transferred and applied to objects (shirts, cups and the like). The image quality is not very high and stability over time is generally quite low.

The chemical press

Called in various ways, for example: digital c-print or simply c-print; generically RA-4; of the lamba type; chromogenic print. This type of photo printing is essentially based on the chemical color detection process. Typically it has a rather low copy cost. They generally do not have great stability over time. Another defect is the often non-constant reproducibility of the same identical print of the photo, sometimes, even in the same laboratory after some time.

Here we open another rather complex topic that we refer to another article. There are various technologies of chemical printing, some more stable over time and others less. Typically, chemical printing tends to give prints a little more “soft”, but depends on various factors. However, the digital chemical printing process needs industrial procedures for use, even for the disposal of waste products. They are rather expensive equipment.

The electrophotographic print

This type of photo printing is based on the process of depositing color on paper, typical of LED / laser printers. There are variations in the use of the type of “toner”, which can be solid or liquid. We say that good quality prints generally have a good yield. The defect they can have is the presence of light lines in light tones, but often not perceptible to the average user. The copy cost is also relatively low but not at the level of chemical printing. The cost of good quality printing equipment is quite expensive. Typically more than for printing photos, this type of printing is used for printing photo albums.

Inkjet printing

Regarding the printing of photos with & nbsp; inkjet technology or ink-jet (in some cases also referred to as giclee printing when speaks of high-quality printing) opens a rather broad discourse. For a good print of the photo the copy cost is generally significantly higher than the other procedures. There is also great variability in the types of prints that can be obtained, based on printers, papers, ink and not least the printing process.

When we talk about a good print we generally have quality yields and a tonal range can be wide compared to other types of prints and a duration in general of over 100 years. But be careful, this thing of the 100 years is not strictly linked to printing technology, indeed almost for nothing. More than anything else the duration is linked to the type of paper first of all and then to the type of ink. In practice it is not at all true that an inkjet print usually lasts over 100 years, generally. But it actually has a long life if printed on the right paper and with the right ink.

For more information on the press, you can generally start from the Printing from Wikipedia .

This post is also available in: itItaliano

2 thoughts on “Photo printing: the most common techniques”

  1. Pingback: La stampa fine art | Fine Art Photo

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