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Why Do Photos Look Different When I Print Them?



If you've ever tried to take photos from your computer, there's a good chance you've been surprised-if not, disappointed-by how they came out.

What are you printing?

The first place you might go wrong is when you go wrong print. To get good results you need to use high resolution, original files. The photos that come straight from your smartphone are fine, but the versions you've uploaded to Facebook or Instagram aren't-social media sites compress and downsize images aggressively.

In my test where I uploaded a high resolution, 2.7MB , 5166 × 3444-pixel file to Facebook and then saved it from my Timeline, I ended up with a 74kb, 960 × 640-pixel file. That file has just 2.7% of the original image data. It barely looks good on my screen, so there's no way it's going to look good printed. Or at least, printed at any size bigger than 3 "by 2".

RELATED: How Big of a Photo Can I Print from My Phone or Camera?

If you want to print a photo that someone has tagged you in on social media, your best bet is to reach out to them and ask them to send you the high resolution original. If you took the photo, get the original from your phone or print it and upload it to Facebook.

How Bright Is Your Screen?

One really common problem with printed images is that they look really drab and dark.

Since a screen is itself a light source, images are almost always brighter with more vivid colors on screen when they're printed. Most people have the brightness and saturation cranked up way too high. makes the image appears bright and it does not necessarily mean the image is bright in the original file. [19659011] Converting what you see on a print is one of the big challenges. It takes time and learning from your mistakes to get good at it. I'm still awful at it. A few things you can do are:

What's Your Printer Setup Like?

Even if you've got everything right on your computer get great prints. Most standard inkjet or laser printers are not designed for printing high quality photos.

The first step is to get a printer that's actually up to the job. Our sister site ReviewGeek has a great roundup of photo printers for any budget. Next, you'll need to make a difference.

If all this sounds a bit much, then you can get your photos printed professionally, which we'll look at next. [19659008] Who's Doing the Printing?

"Professional" printing is a pretty big category and runs the gamut from terrible to incredible. At the lower end, you've got bad shops. At the high end, you've got master craftsmen who'll print, frame, and mount a five-foot panorama for a few hundred dollars. As I said, the range is wide.

If you've got your picture printed on the lower end of the range, or using a drugstore machine, then it's normal to expect the prints to come back and do a little work on the prints, assess what's wrong with them, and then make the edits to the original files and get them printed again. If the photos are too dark, increase the brightness. If they look yellow, fix the white balance. Keep doing this until you get that look like you want.

On the other hand, if you're going with a high-end printing shop, just talk to them; they're the experts. Ask them to review your file and make a smaller test print.

The best middle ground to go to a camera shop that prints photos.

How to Get Better Prints

How to get better prints

How to get better prints?

  • Use high-quality original files.
  • If you're serious, calibrate your monitor.
  • Edit your images using the histogram.
  • Get a good printer or use a professional.

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