How to scan and print photos

Question: I recently purchased a HP 4200c scanner. I also own a HP Deskjet 695c printer. If I were to purchase a photo cartridge and photo paper for the printer, would the clarity of a scanned photograph be higher than using the color cartridges and normal paper? – B.G.

Answer: There isn’t a black-and-white answer to this question. Some things to consider:

First, you will want to get the best quality scan from your HP ScanJet 4200C. To do this, make sure that you are choosing the correct format when scanning.

Your ScanJet 4200C scanner software will ask you to choose from “text only”, “text and graphics”, “photo”, etc. In this case, you will want to choose “photo”. The scanners will then make the correct calculations to determine the best scan. This is the case for most consumer scanners these days. They all have relatively friendly scan interfaces that are designed for the novice user.

Make sure the source image is clear. For example, scanning a newspaper image won’t give you a great reproduction. But a standard photograph will give you better results.

If you are going to manually adjust the resolution settings on the scanner, don’t choose a resolution higher than what your printer can manage. For example, there’s not much point in scanning at 1200 dots per inch (dpi) when your printer can only output 600 dpi prints.

Make sure the scanner glass is smudge-free. Clean it with a soft cloth.

The second part of your question involves printed output. “Simply put, what you put into your printer directly affects what comes out,” said Sam Moncada, the Canadian Programs Manager for Supplies at Hewlett-Packard.

When you use specially formulated inkjet inks and papers designed to work with your system, you will get better looking output.

All inkjet printer vendors these days have their own line of specialty inks and papers.

“Most inkjet printers will produce good photos on regular paper, but best results are produced when using the photo cartridges with photo papers,” added Moncada. In B.G.’s case, HP offers both. So do Epson, Xerox and Lexmark.

When an ink droplet is fired at a piece of paper from the print head, the quality of paper will determine how the droplet is absorbed. Specialty papers ensure that the ink doesn’t bleed. The better the ink is controlled when it hits the paper, the better the quality of the image on it.

When printing photos, be sure to set the output to the best resolution. When you click Print, a dialog box will open that will have an Options or Properties button on it. A choice of resolution settings will be available. In some cases, the Properties box will also allow you to specify the type of paper you are using.

One other tip: Take advantage of the fact that most inkjet printers also have an automatic self-cleaning function. At the push of a button, the print head is cleaned of residual ink build-up from previous print jobs. The need for a cleaning will become obvious when you start noticing a slight banding or lines on the final print. Check your manual on how to get the printer to clean its heads. Normally, it is a menu selection on the printer’s LCD screen (if it has one) or, in some cases, it can also be started through the printer software.