Question: I’ve been hearing a lot about the different types of ink that people use to print their photos with and I’m wondering if someone can cut through all the technical jargon for me and explain things in a simple way. I know that one type is good for one use and the other type is good for another use, but I’m not sure which would be good for my own purposes. I like to shoot lots of nature and urban photography and anything else that comes my way. I print in color most of the time and I just want my prints to look as good as possible. I also don’t want to spend too much money on ink or a printer. Thanks.
Answer: You can check out this post on the blog that has to do with the differences between dye and pigment inks. It’s pretty thorough. Basically, from what you’re saying, you should probably go ahead with using a dye based ink. I have always gotten the impression that pigment based ink is reserved for those professionals who truly know what they’re doing and know what they want. For the rest of us, dye based ink is just fine.
With dye based ink, you’ll get more vibrant and robust colors in your print outs. Also, the printers that use this type of ink cost a lot less than their counterparts and they’re also much more popular. While there are only a handful of realistic pigment based ink printers that you or I would consider purchasing, there are many more dye based ink printers. They’re also not very expensive. Canon and Epson offer many of them. Just don’t get yourself in the battle of which is better. You’ll never get out of it. It’s like the Ford vs. Chevy thing when it comes to pickup trucks.
The only downside with using dye based inks is that the dye fades faster than the pigment does. So in 20 years, you may see some lightening of your photos while if you printed them with pigment ink, you’d never see any fading. Things are getting better though because I think the big companies are putting sunscreen in their dye now so fading is much less prevalent.
The downside with pigment based ink is that it’s not as robust or colorful as dye, but again, you’ll not see any fading in your lifetime. It’s like what the professional print shops use.
Keep your print outs out of the sun and use dye like the rest of us do. You’ll have great looking shots and you’ll be happy with the results.