The days when you were supposed to have a dark room to print photographs are now long gone. Digital technology has not only taken up photo cameras, but also photo printing. A digital printer makes the whole photo printing process much easier while also significantly improving the quality. While there are some people who still find digital photography a bit intimidating, there is no doubt that digital technology has revolutionized the photo industry and will continue to do so in the future.
You are no longer constrained by film size and quality. You can take hundreds of photos and then transfer the image files directly on your computer and manipulate them the way you want. There are many image editing applications on the market (some of them even free) that let you improve your photos to a great extent. Moreover, the digital viewfinder lets you visualize the area you are photographing and you can change the picture right then (e.g. make it black & white). You can also view the pictures on the embedded LCD screen and erase the ones that you don’t like so they don’t take up space. This would have been impossible with traditional cameras, when you didn’t know how the photos looked like until you had them printed.
As for the printing part, most photographers are either printing the photos directly with an inkjet printer or use a digital image enlargement device. An inkjet printer is the best option in case you want the photos to look more like paintings. However, you have to remember that the quality of the ink and paper also play an important part. Paper quality has evolved a lot in the last years so photos produced nowadays can hardly be compared to traditional ones. Another way of printing digital photos is with a digital enlarger or light jet printer. Such devices use a digital dark room to process the photos. The photographer scans the image on the computer and then sends it to a digital enlarger, which exposes the photographic paper to laser jets. Then the paper is being processed using the same techniques as in traditional dark rooms that were used for film cameras. The only disadvantage of this type of printing is that the images look more like photographs, not paintings.
Digital prints have more vivid colors and sharpness compared to traditional printing methods. If you look at old photos, you often notice that they have faded out along the years. This process happens much slower with high quality digital printing. Depending on the quality of the paper and ink it can last up to two hundred years provided that it is not kept in direct sunlight. Digital photos have many other advantages. For example, after you have saved the photo on the computer, you can make as many printed copies as you want for much lower costs than with traditional photography. Digital technology is definitely the way forward in the photo industry and at some point it will probably become the only to take pictures.