How to Print Photos with a Laser Printer

Convention dictates laser printers shouldn’t be used for printing photographs. Laser printers only use four colours and they’re designed for productive office work rather than photography. But, convention is not always a rule to be strictly adhered to. With performance improving rapidly, printing photographs with a laser printer is becoming more and more common. The trick is to understand your printer’s limitations, get the settings right and use the right printer paper.

Both colour and monochrome images can be printed, but some image types produce better prints than others. Subjects such as portraits and landscapes can be covered, although the best looking prints can be obtained from images with plenty of detail and bright, vibrant colours. Tonal nuances are more difficult to print mainly because toner cartridges boost contrast making subtle transitions in pastel hues with just black, cyan magenta and yellow becomes more difficult.

Good prints are obtained by choosing the right paper, avoid plain office paper and printing on glossy paper is a no-go. Laser printer’s transfer powder from the toner cartridges to receiving paper, using an electrostatic process then Heat bonds the toner to the paper. Inkjet photo papers can’t take the high heat used in a laser printer to fuse the toners to the paper.

Laser toner cartridges have a couple of advantages: they don’t dry out if the printer isn’t used for a while and they also produce very sharp printed text and deep, rich blacks. Laser printers are faster than inkjets – and cheaper to run. Toner cartridges produce more prints than printer ink cartridges, which means you don’t need to keep changing cartridges. However, because laser printers only use four colours, the traditional CMYK colours of commercial printing, and their tonal gamut is less than that of an inkjet printer with six or more colours.

Comparing printed photos from a laser printer to those printed by an inkjet printer is not a fair comparison. A fairer comparison is with printed magazines and books, which are reproduced through four-colour commercial printing. An entry level laser printer can match the print quality, or even exceed the print quality of many commercially-distributed books.

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