Photo Printer Care

Photo Printer Care by Natalie Parker

My photo printer and I decided to have artistic differences again.  I was going to call them irreconcilable differences but we have reconciled and I’m not divorcing it at this time.

Along the way to solving this issue, I learned a thing or two about photo printer care.  Read on!

The short version

I need to use my photo printer once a week and if I don’t have anything to print, I need to print a test page.  I also need a good print backup in case I can’t use my printer.  Ordering prints at a drugstore is not good enough.

The Long Version

Due to my current creativity issues, a lot of time passed without printing any photos.  I lost track of time and didn’t realize how long it had been until I wanted to print our anniversary photo.

I was worried.  I knew from experience a couple years ago (albeit with a cheaper printer) that when I left the country for 2 weeks and didn’t use it, something happened and it wouldn’t print properly.

Sure enough, after a few weeks of nonuse, the anniversary photo had lines on it.  Noooo!  I replaced a low cartridge and cleaned the ink heads several times.  After each time I printed a smaller version of the picture.  It got better, but not 100%.  At one point, the lines went away but then it printed blurrier than the one with the lines!

Trying not to panic, I took the printer to an authorized repair shop.  He took a look at it and said he couldn’t find anything wrong with it — it was in great shape.  It was as fun as thinking there’s something wrong with you but the doctor not being able to find anything.  He told me to run a couple more cleaning cycles.

So I went home and cleaned it again.  After a couple more cycles (I think 10 total by this time) it WORKED!

The guy at the shop told me that long periods of nonuse can cause the print heads to dry.  He recommended printing something often to prevent this.

Trying Prints at Walgreens via Snapfish

In the middle of this, I really wanted to finish the anniversary page.  So before it was fixed, I used Snapfish to send the photo to my local Walgreens (hoping for instant gratification).  Not so much.  The color was off and the quality was noticeably poor.

Download a Test Page for Your Printer

I made a PDF to print once a week if I don’t have anything else to print.  The printer guy told me to print something that will use each of the cartridges.  Many printers come with four cartridges (CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow, black).  My Espon printer has those plus a red and orange.

download a CMYK test page 
download an Epson, 8-cartridge test page

So, if you order prints, whom do you order from?  What should I use as a backup service?

Photo Printer Care by Natalie Parker

7 thoughts on “Photo Printer Care

  1. I don’t print photos at home. I have tried a few different printers and am never happy with the result. I print all of my scrapbooking photos at Persnickity Prints. If I need a quick turnaround, like next day, I print at my local Photo store, Harold’s Photo. I have been extremely pleased with both.

    • Everything has to be just right with my printer — I’ve got pretty high standards for printing at home but if something goes wrong . . .

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll keep those in mind for next time.

  2. My old Epson printer had this problem. My Canon seems much more forgiving about sitting idle for a while, but I probably should print something every so often anyway.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE the quality of prints from Smugmug. We host our personal galleries there so it’s easy for me to print, and I love that you can send photos straight from Lightroom as well.

    Local Walgreens and Target are both pretty crappy. Costco was good but we gave up our membership.

      • Oh man, their prints are really good. I like the lustre finish the best. They are definitely a little more expensive (around 20 cents vs. the 9 cents or whatever you can get from the Snapfish, etc) but I’d rather have the nice ones for my projects.

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