Printing your photos at home
Printer manufacturers will only ever guarantee best results if you use their own original ink in each device. Why? It’s tempting to claim that they just want to sell more ink (which may be partly true), but the full story is far more practical.
Using ‘official’ inks means that the exact tones of cyan, magenta and yellow within the print head match those coded into the printer driver. As a result, the printer knows the precise quantities of each tone to lay down within each spot on the page to exactly match the original colours in your image. It’s tempting to save money by buying ‘compatible’ inks – especially if you only occasionally print photos – but even the black ink can look different when sourced from third-party suppliers, so shop with care.
Use photo paper for everything other than draft test prints. The reason you should do this is because it’s heavier and therefore frequently less absorbent than office paper. This allows the ink to dry on the surface for a crisper, brighter result, rather than soaking too deep into the weave where it will spread through the fibres and dull the edges.
Specify the paper you’re using in the Media and Quality section of the OS X print dialog so it knows how much ink it can lay down without saturating the page (if you can’t find this, click Show Details to extend the dialog). Also, where possible, use branded paper to match your printer and ink because all three will have been engineered to work together. It might seem like a convenient marketing ploy, but it will benefit your printouts.
Printers that tell you to buy their own ink aren’t just doing it to squeeze every last penny out of you! (Well, they are partly…)