Tech Talk: With David Behrens

A GENERATION from now, the idea of printing photographs on pieces of paper and sandwiching them between the pages of an album will seem as quaint as placing lace doilies on the backs of armchairs, or doffing your hat to passers-by.

Don’t believe me? Cast your mind back, if you can, to the 1960s when Dixons had shelves full of Hanimex slide projectors.

Who among us would want to draw the curtains, pin up a bedsheet and lay on a slide show today?

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I will admit that the march of technology, and in particular of digital photography, has yet to fully erase our desire to see snaps framed and mounted on paper.

Fortunately, getting great prints from digital photos is easy – and because you can see your snaps before you take them to the lab you should get decent results every time.

The traditional high street photo labs all now offer digital-to-print services, often via self-service booths into which you insert a memory card or CD and “drop off” your files. The newest machines can deliver them while you wait.

Postal photo laboratories have also gone digital, and are speedier than before. Now, you just go to a website, upload picture files and wait for the prints to drop through your letterbox.

Or, you could use your own desktop printer. The good news is that there’s little to choose in terms of quality. Desktop photo printers by Canon, HP and Epson can output prints every bit as good as those from professional labs – so long as you use best quality glossy photo paper and the manufacturer’s own ink cartridges.

But they can be expensive, with branded cartridges costing up to four times as much as the inferior generic variety, and proper photo paper isn’t cheap, either.

If price is your primary consideration, you’ll want to go online. You can order pictures for a few pence apiece and optionally display them in a free “web album” that can be viewed by anyone.