Digital Images vs Prints.. What’s the difference? Ipswich Photographer

I am sometimes asked what the difference is between digital images and prints, so allow me to explain as best as I can!


A print is an image printed on photographic paper, a digital image now, but in the times before digital, it was film.

Prints can come in all sorts of sizes, and can be printed on various different types of photographic paper. I have samples at my studio for you to feel and see the difference in finishes. I use a professional photographic lab to print your images, and they are of very high quality.

When you order a print from a professional photographer you are not just paying for a bit of paper. You are buying a copy of an image, and its the image ON the paper that gives its value, just like a bank note does.

A print is for you only, and it is illegal to attempt to create more copies from it. This will be endorsed by courts in the event of legal action, and the costs past onto you, so be warned.

Professional Mounted Prints
Professional Mounted Prints


I take your photos using a professional digital camera and thus the images I capture are in digital format. I then edit those images on a computer to create the final portrait you then purchase.

These digital files are what you may then choose to buy, and are usually supplied to you on a USB, or sent to you via a download link over the internet.

Digital images cost more each than a print, and I will explain why.

With digital images you are given printing rights which means you have the right to print from those files for personal use as often as you wish. With a paper print you have one copy only. It is a digital ‘negative’ like they used in film cameras, and can be used for a limitless number of prints, or to share online in its digital format.

Digital images come presented on a USB stick

Important things to bare in mind with Digitals

There are some limitations with digital files that are important to bare in mind. You can print them but you cannot alter them in any way.

It is illegal for you to add filters, change the colour, or otherwise do anything else to them. I’d like to think you love your images as they are and wouldn’t want to change them, but it does need to be said!

You do not own the copyright as by law that always stays with the photographer who took the photo. Don’t let this worry you though, as the copyright would be of no use to you anyway. Printing rights are all you need for your personal photos. Copyright are for businesses!

The digital files you pay for are high quality and very big, so you will need a computer to download them if they are emailed to you, not a mobile phone.

High street printers who print from digital files are NOT the same high quality as the professional labs I use and may well ruin your images. Of course, it is entirely your choice if you would like to use a high street lab, but I cannot be held responsible for any poor results.

One last thing – there is no such thing as a digital print. I have been asked this before.

Hopefully this helps, but as ever, feel free to email me with any questions.

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