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All inkjet printers have a native resolution. Now, this is different from 1440 or 2880 printer dot resolution numbers that you might have seen. Remember, there is not a one-to-one correspondence between printer dots and the pixels in your image. Instead, you have to group a certain number of printer dots together to get a single screen pixel. By the time you've grouped printer dots of a certain size into screen-pixel equivalents, you'll have a certain number of those screen-pixel-equivalent groups across a given distance.
This is the printer's native image resolution or just native resolution. Anytime you send a print to the printer and that print is not set to the printer's native resolution, then the printer driver will resample it to the printer's native resolution. For example, if you have your image set to 200 pixels per inch at 8 x 10 and the printer's native resolution is 300, then the printer driver will resample. It will interpolate and upscale that image to 8 x 10 at 300 pixels per inch. Now most of the time, your printer will probably do a very good job of this. However, you might want to consider doing that resampling yourself in Photoshop before you print, for a couple of reasons.
First, Photoshop has very good resampling algorithms, possibly better than what your printer driver has. Second, you can get a preview of that resampling onscreen. If you let the printer driver do it, you just have to wait till the print comes out to see the results. But most importantly, if you let the printer driver resample, you might introduce some sharpening- related troubles into your image. Now we are going to spend an entire chapter on sharpening, so you will learn about--more about this issue later. In the meantime, I recommend setting your image's resolution settings to your printer's native resolution.
Sometimes this might require resampling and sometimes it won't. It all depends on the final print size that you're aiming for. Now, plainly, native printer resolution is a critical specification for printing. Therefore, you might expect to find the specification somewhere in your printer's manual. But for reasons passing understanding, printer manufacturers don't feel compelled to publish this essential data. I can only assume it's because their stance is, don't worry, our driver will take care of everything. You don't need to concern yourself with these matters. Whatever the reason, you're not going to find native printer resolution listed anywhere in your printer's documentation, so you're going to want to make note of this next bit.
If you're using an Epson inkjet printer then you most likely have a native resolution of 360 pixels per inch. Canon and HP printers typically both have native resolutions of 300 pixels per inch. So, in this course, because I am going to be working with an Epson printer, you're going to see me choosing 360 as my target resolution when I am resizing. If you're using Cannon or HP, go with 300.
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