No matter why and how you are printing your digital photos, at home, using a paid printing service or if you found a way to get free prints using DPOF would make your printing experience smoother and easier. Here is how.
A consortium of digital camera and photo printers manufacturers introduced the standard called DPOF in order to smoothen the process of printing digital photos. DPOF is an acronym for Digital Print Order Format. As the name suggests DPOF purpose is to define how digital photo printing jobs orders are defined. By following the standard everybody can write and read printing formats according to the semantic defined by the DPOF standard.
Many digital cameras these days support the DPOF standard. Such digital cameras allow you to check which photos you would like to print, how many copies and some other parameters. Then you can simply send those digital photo files to your photo printing service, either by sending the memory card, uploading the photos over the Internet or on any other way. You can also check some pricing and billing information unless of course you are utilizing some free prints service offers.
If your digital camera does not support DPOF or if you are not comfortable using your digital camera menus for that purpose you can also use many software packages on your personal computer for editing each photo DPOF information. One of the biggest advantages of the DPOF format is that the printing order information is directly embedded in the digital photo file. The DPOF format allows the digital photo file to include the printing order job information so there is no confusing regarding which photo such order refers to. Also some digital cameras let you set DPOF defaults so that all your photos are preset with your DPOF values for fast printing orders later on.
DPOF is more than just photo printing order information such as quantity and paper size. DPOF also allows you to define digital photo meta data such as a photo title, short description and so on. For that reason DPOF can actually be used for more applications than just printing. DPOF can also be used by digital photo viewers for example to display a title for each displayed digital photo. Not all digital cameras support DPOF at the same level. Some simple cameras only allows filling up the basic information such as checking which photos to print and choosing number of copies and paper size. Other cameras allow full editing of the DPOF fields, setting defaults and more.
DPOF success encouraged its supporters to extend the format to support more functionality. For example DPOF now can also be used for photo transfer description. For example you can now choose which digital photos will be emailed and to what email address or distribution list. Either the digital camera directly if it supports Internet connection or later on software on your computer can process this information and automatically send the digital photos as attachments to their specified destination.
Danette Mckay explains about this subject in more depth at digital photo printing