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You Got the Picture. Now What?

With all this talk about taking pictures, it’s easy to miss the real point— sharing your pictures. In the days of film, you dropped off your film at the local drugstore or photo developer and picked up prints a few hours or days later. You can still do this with your digital prints—many drugstores and camera outlets let you drop off your memory card or use a self-serve photo-printing kiosk. However, you have many additional options.

Do It Yourself Today, even the most-economical printers do a reasonably good job of producing photo-quality prints. This option also gives you the greatest amount of control over your prints. The downside is that you’ll probably end up spending a lot more time working with your photos—correcting color, cropping, sharpening, checking print settings, and so on. Some people enjoy touching up small details until they have a perfect print. Others think it’s extremely tedious.

Of course, how much energy you put into this process is entirely up to you. Many printers let you attach your camera right to a port on the front and start printing—forgoing the computer entirely. Some companies even offer portable printers, such as the HP Photosmart 375 ($200) (see Best Current Price ), that print only 4-by-6-inch photos. It has a color LCD, media-card slots, and an optional internal battery so you don’t need to be near an outlet. This is a great option if you want to print photos at a birthday party or a family reunion. But be aware of the hidden costs in printing. A sheet of 4-by-6 photo paper typically costs about 20 cents. Ink will run you another 5 to 10 cents per print. And be honest—how many times do you get the print right the first time?

Delivery If you can wait a few days for your prints, you may prefer to have an online printing service handle the details. You simply upload your images to the company’s Web site, and they print your pictures on real photo paper and send them back to you in the mail. Typically, you’ll pay about 23 cents to 29 cents per print for this service, plus a couple dollars for postage. Two of my favorite services are Shutterfly and Ofoto. In addition to ordering prints, you can buy books and gifts featuring your images. If you use iPhoto, you can even order prints right from the program’s interface.

Carryout In case you like the convenience of ordering prints from your Mac but don’t want to bother with postage, some companies offer an additional option. In 2004, the CVS drugstore chain rolled out a service that lets you order prints online and then pick them up at a local retailer by 5 p.m. the next day. Prices range from 25 cents to 29 cents per print. Costco now offers a similar option.

Save the Trees But don’t limit yourself to making prints if your ultimate goal is to share images with friends and family—especially if they own computers. Several wonderful online communities, such as Flickr, make it easy for you to upload pictures from your digital camera or camera phone and then publish them for others to view on the Web. If you have a .Mac account, you can upload Web galleries of your photos directly from iPhoto and send notifications to friends and family.

HP Photosmart 375
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