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Create Professional Prints from Photos Shot Using Your iPhone, iPad, or iPad Mini

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Millions of people enjoy snapping photos using the cameras that are built into the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPad mini. However, what few people understand is how to create inexpensive, professional-quality prints from their digital images. In this article, Jason R. Rich discusses your options when it comes to creating standard sized prints or enlargements from the digital images taken using your iOS mobile device.

With each new model of the iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini that’s released by Apple, the cameras built into these devices are improved. At the same time, Apple continues to enhance the capabilities of the Camera and Photos apps that come preinstalled on your iOS mobile device, while many third-party companies offer optional apps for viewing, managing, editing, enhancing, printing, and/or sharing digital photos.

Apple has made a big deal about how easy it is to share (online) multiple digital images stored on an iOS device with others using the iCloud Shared Photo Stream feature. Or, using the Photos app, you can tap the Share button in order to send digital images taken with or stored on your iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini to other people via email, text/instant message, Twitter, or Facebook.

For those who prefer taking an “old school” approach to sharing and viewing digital images, and would like to create 3” x 5”, 4” x 6”, or 8” x 10” prints from their photos, you have a variety of viable options. For the best results, however, plan to create prints from photos taken using the higher-resolution, rear-facing camera that’s built into your device.

Use AirPrint and a Home Photo Printer

A growing number of home photo printers, from companies like Epson and HP, are AirPrint compatible. Thus, from the Photos app (or another photography app that’s installed on your iOS mobile device) you can wirelessly send your digital photos directly to that printer in order to create full-color prints in a wide range of sizes.

To learn more about AirPrint-compatible home photo printers, visit http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4356. Once you have the printer linked to your iOS mobile device via a home wireless network, select one or more images from the Photos app that you’d like to print, tap on the Share icon, and select the Print option.

The benefit to using a home photo printer is that you can select images and create prints in just minutes. For the best results, however, you’ll want to use three, four, or five star-rated photo paper with your printer, and make sure all of the printer’s ink cartridges have ample ink.

Using most home photo printers, you can create standard sized 3” x 5”, 4” x 6”, 8” x 10”, or 8.5” x 11” prints, based on the size photo paper you use. Using a home photo printer offers the maximum level of convenience when it comes to creating prints, but it’s not typically the most economical options once you consider the price of printer ink and photo paper.

The cost of a photo printer is typically between $100.00 and $300.00. What you also need to pay attention to, however, is the ongoing cost of the replacement ink cartridges that are compatible with that printer make and model, as well as the cost of the high-quality photo paper you’ll use to create your prints. Using low-quality photo paper will smudge easily, take longer to dry, and the ink will often fade over time.

Purchase a Special iOS Compatible Photo Printer

Several companies now offer portable photo printers designed specifically for use with the iPhone, iPad, and/or iPad mini. These printers are limited in terms of the size of prints they can create, but they allow prints to be created directly from your iOS mobile device quickly and easily.

The iPhoto Photo Printer from Hammacher Schlemmer ($159.00), for example, weighs just three pounds and is extremely portable. It includes an iPhone/iPad dock, so you can connect your iOS device directly to the printer. However, if you’re using an iPhone 5, 4th generation iPad, or iPad mini with a Lightning port, an additional adapter is required.

Hammacher Schlemmer also offers a portable photo printer that’s wireless, so you can link any iOS device to it without using any cables, as long as a home wireless network (Wi-Fi hotspot) is available. The Wireless Smartphone Photo Printer is priced at $219.95. It uses the same printer paper cartridges as the iPhoto Photo Printer.

What’s nice about either of these thermal printers is that they do not require costly ink cartridges that constantly need to be replaced. Instead, the printer uses special thermal paper, which allows you to create 4” x 6” borderless prints at 300 dpi resolution. The thermal paper is capable of displaying 256 gradations and 16.7 million colors, so the print quality winds up being very similar to what you’d expect from a professional photo lab.

Each printer paper cartridge contains twelve sheets of special photo paper, and is priced at $24.95. Thus, the per-print cost (once you own the printer) is about $2.00 each. The free app that comes with either printer makes transferring your digital photos from the iOS mobile device to the printer extremely easy. This is a simple solution for creating 4” x 6” prints at home, in just minutes per print.

Upload Your Images to a Local One-Hour Photo Lab

Many pharmacies (such as Walgreen’s), mass-market superstores (like Wal-Mart), and one-hour photo labs (such as Ritz Camera or Wolf Camera stores, which are found in many malls), now offer proprietary apps that allow you to upload (via the Internet) your favorite digital photos that are stored on your iOS mobile device, directly to the store location that’s closest to where you are. The lab will then create prints from your photos, typically within one hour, and you can pick them up in person.

The benefit is that these services are low-cost (standard sized 3” x 5” or 4” x 6” prints are typically priced less than 30 cents each), however, with a tap on the screen, you can order larger size prints of the images you select. Your iPhone or iPad will need access to the Internet via a Wi-Fi, 3G/4G (LTE) connection to upload your images from the device to the photo lab.

To send your photos via the Internet to a local Ritz Camera or a Wolf Camera store, for example, use the free RitzPix app that’s available from the App Store. Meanwhile, the free Snapfish app can be used to upload and order prints from the one-hour photo labs at most Wal-Mart, Walgreen’s, and Duane Reade locations.  Once the photos are uploaded from your iOS mobile device, the prints will typically be ready for pick up within an hour.

To find and install the other free photo print apps available from your local pharmacy, mass-market superstore, or one-hour photo lab, launch the App Store app and use the Search field to find a particular app that allows you to upload photos directly to a nearby photo lab.

Many photo labs that don’t have specialized apps do, however, have a special email address set up that can accept incoming digital photos from an iOS mobile device. The digital files you send from the Mail or Photos app, for example, can then be converted into prints.

Take Advantage of a Self-Serve Photo Kiosk

In addition to local one-hour photo labs, many pharmacies (including all CVS Pharmacy locations) and mass-market retailers offer self-service Kodak print kiosks. Using the free Kodak Kiosk Connect app, you can wirelessly transfer any digital images stored on your iOS mobile device to one of these in-store kiosks (while you’re in the store) in order to create prints in a wide range of sizes. For this app to work, the store must offer Wi-Fi service (most currently do) and your device’s Wi-Fi feature also needs to be turned on. Print prices vary by location, but full-color, professional-quality prints (up to 8” x 10”) can be made in minutes.

Use a Specialized App to Send Images to a Professional Photo Lab

Yet another option for easily creating prints from your iPhone, iPad, or iPad mini, without first having to transfer the images to your primary computer, is to download a special app from a professional photo lab that allows you to upload images directly from your iOS mobile device. The lab then creates your prints and sends them to you via U.S. Mail. The professional-quality prints show up at your door within a few business days.

This is probably the most inexpensive and hassle-free option for creating high-quality prints from images you take on your iOS mobile device. The Free Prints app from http://www.PhotoAffections.com, for example, is an extremely simple to use app that allows you to upload up to 1,000 images per year in order to have 4” x 6” prints made for free. You only need to pay a low shipping charge with each order (starting at $1.99). Using this free app, you can also order larger size prints (for a fee). The images are then shipped directly to the address you provide.

A similar app to Free Prints is called MotoPhoto. This free app allows you to order standard-size prints or custom enlargements (up to 44” x 60” posters). Images get transferred from your iOS mobile device to the company’s lab via the Internet, and your prints are shipped to you within a few business days. The MotoPhoto app offers competitive pricing and will soon allow you to order photo products, directly from your iPhone or iPad, that feature your digital images.

Transform Your Instagram Images into Two Inch Square Magnets

If you enjoy snapping photos using your iOS mobile device and sharing them online using the free Instagram service (which is now owned by Facebook), an independent online service, called StickyGram, allows you to access your Instagram photo feed and order sheets of nine, 2” x 2” refrigerator magnets that feature your digital images. The full-color magnets will arrive at your door within a week. Each sheet of nine magnets (which can feature nine separate images), costs $14.99.

What’s great about this service is that any photos you’ve taken and posted online via Instagram (using the free Instagram app) can include special effects and photo filters, which also get incorporated into the images printed on your magnets.

Transfer Images to Your Home Computer in Order to Print Images

Instead of printing images directly from your iPhone or iPad using a home photo printer (via AirPrint), you can also create full-color prints from your digital images using iCloud Photo Stream or the iTunes Sync process to first transfer the digital photos shot using your iPhone or iPad to your primary computer. Then, once the images are transferred, use your photo editing software, such as iPhoto, Aperture, Photoshop Elements, or countless others, to view, edit, organize, and print the images on the photo printer that’s connected to your computer.

Many companies, including Blurb, allow you to use specialized (free) software on your primary computer to layout, design, and then publish full-color and professionally bound photo books. These hardcover or soft cover books are affordable, highly personalized, and are much easier and less time consuming to create than a traditional scrapbook, yet they allow you to showcase groups of images with ease.

Beyond traditional prints and photo books, you can also have your images printed on gallery-quality canvas (from a company like Canvas On Demand, or transformed into frameless Fotoflots or Image On Glass prints that are suitable for displaying on any wall.

Final Thoughts...

Taking photos and capturing memories using the cameras built into your iPhone or iPad is easier than ever. And, while you can share your images almost instantly with other people via email, text message, Twitter, or Facebook, you also have the option to create professional quality prints that can be shared with others, framed, and/or incorporated into scrapbooks or traditional photo albums.

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