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Old Dec 18, 2002, 4:26 PM   #1
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Default Digicam pixel count vs. Printer dpi

I'm upgrading from a 1.3 megapixel to a 4.0 megapixel digicam and I'm wondering if I'll get higher quality prints from my inkjet which is rated at a max of 600 dpi (It's a 4 year old HP 820cse). I haven't been successful in finding any articles dealing with the relationship between a digital picture's pixel count (say in the SQ mode resized to 800 x 600) vs. the quality of the printed photo based on the dpi limitations of the printer.
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 4:53 PM   #2
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You would have better printouts if you have a better printer. The picture quality between 1.3 and 4mp cameras will improve but the output from the printer to the paper is going to remain the same. You may see a small improvement because the source (the 4mp photo) is better than the 1.3 photo.
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 5:38 PM   #3
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Both the camera and the printer will make a big difference.

A 4MP camera provides more than just higher resolution. On average it also means you usually get a better camera and higher quality images pixel for pixel.

The example I frequently give is a 1.5MP Sony Video Camera versus a 4MP Sony DSC85. The S85 images are just much better quality even if you use only a third of its resolution.

I also see this a lot when testing the different cameras we buy. For example I just bought a less than $200, 2MP Vivitar from Sams, and it also has much lower quality (pixel for pixel) than most 4MP cameras.

W.r.t printers you mention a 4 year old inkjet. Photo printers have made many improvements in the last four years. Because of this and the fact they are relatively cheap, you would probably be happier with a newer model.

As for the resolution comparison, the printer makers are not bound by a single (or even meaningful) standard, so it's difficult to make comparisons. However generally speaking state of the art printers can resolve more detail at full image size than even a 4MP can provide.

Hope this helps a little.

Lee Whitney
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Old Dec 18, 2002, 5:43 PM   #4
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Many of the more recent printers sold as 'photo' models use inks which are more suited to photo colour work. In addition they can often use additional colour cartridges to give a wider range (gamut)and better quality colour.

They also come with colour matching files so you can mostly see the colour you will print, on a monitor, before you hit print. In photo print work a wide range of faithful stable colours is more important than res. Particularly if you consider commercial on-line printers are only using 300dpi for 6X4 & 7x5's - and I think they look ok.

Most ink jets suffer from 'colour bleeding' so in reality, the highest resolutions are not always achieved on paper anyway, and take a long time to print.
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