How To Evaluate Print Quality

Digital Landscape Test_v3.cdrQuality is subjective and beauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder. However, there are certain things to look for when evaluating print quality.

  1. Is the color generally pleasing or is there an overall color cast to the image that is not present in the original? With the number of different lighting options and the number of cameras in the market, no printer can reproduce every scene perfectly. The goal of most printers is to do a reasonable job reproducing color and to avoid objectionable color casts. In many cases, printers will enhance colors to make them more pleasing.
  2. Do the highlights (light areas) and shadows (dark areas) have detail? Detail that is present in the original photo should also be present in the print. Conversely, printers cannot add detail that is not in the original photo.
  3. Is the print sharp? Look at text and other high-contrast features. Text should be clean and readable. Look specifically where two colors are adjacent to each other
  4. Is the print excessively grainy? Some printers do a better job producing continuous tone prints than others.
  5. Does the print have any bands, streaks, or spots? Look particularly carefully at solid or relatively uniform printed areas, including skies and colored backgrounds. Band or streaks may be a sign of clogged nozzles, worn-out drums, or other maintenance problems.
  6. Finally, check for any other print defects that may be present.

These criteria are not absolute requirements, but instead provide a guide as to which factors that affect quality may be important.

About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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