Best quailty prints

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Jim Benton, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. Jim Benton

    Jim Benton TPF Noob!

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    As a general rule, are the prints that you can obtain from a lab better than those you can get a home with a top quality ink jet?

    By top quality I mean one of the A1 or A2 models that Epson or HP produce.
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That depends on 2 things... the quality of the lab, and if you can use the printer profiles of the printer that the lab uses *and* that your monitor is calibrated.

    As a general rule, labs have 10,000 and 20,000 dollar printers. Will that *in general* give better results than a $500 inkjet? Yes.

    There is also the fact that your cost per prints will coming out a LITTLE more than doing it at the lab, using current Canadian prices, and if you start using premium papers and inks on your inkjet, prices rise some more.

    Of course once you get into the $900 and up inkjets, the quality difference starts to come very close, but again, costs are higher for you.

    I do not print home too often, but the odd one I will. When I want better quality, I go to Costco and their local Noritsu 3411 and printer profiles. For best print quality, I visit a local lab here in Montreal or WHCC in the US. MPIX is close to quality as WHCC, but maybe a notch lower.
     
  3. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Personally, I get better quality as far as color rendition or contrast in b/w when I do it myself. I don't print bigger than 8x10, so sharpness isn't an issue. I've never been satisfied with prints when other people do them..ever.. They always seemed "off" from what I expected, which is why I quit shooting film years ago, and also why I started shooting film again once printers and film scanners became affordable.
     
  4. RJohnston

    RJohnston TPF Noob!

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    You can do great prints yourself, if you setup your printer for greater than 300 dots per inch, I never print at less than 600dpi and generally use 1200. For my best prints I use 2400, though my printer will go to 4800 have never used it.
     
  5. B Kennedy

    B Kennedy TPF Noob!

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    I have the canon pixma pro9500 and it is freaking awesome to say the least! I work off a calibrated monitor and with the printer profiles, so I'm good to go. I've only gotten prints done from 2 pro labs, and they are close to the ones I print, but they do lost less to have them print than if I print myself.
     
  6. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thats a $600 investment before you get your first 8X10 out, not including ink and paper. I wonder how many 8X10s I could get at a pro lab before I would have paid off the printer?

    Not saying the 9500 isn't a good printer, but you'd better be an avid user who prints more than average before it pays itself off. For me, the calculation would be around 480-490 prints. If I print out 50 shots a year, thats a lot, so that printer had better last me at least 9 years for me to break even... lol

    In my case, I'm better off even paying 25%-50% more for prints than investing in a quality printer like yours. :)
     
  7. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Send mpix.com one file to print and see what you think. Unless you are selling enough prints to warrant becoming your own mini lab or you shoot nudes, photo printers are not cost effective.
     
  8. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    There are certainly cases where printing at home is cost effective, and that is turn around time. That is why I bought my Epson 3800. Shooting a 2 day event like motocross for example, shoot one day, print that night and sell like crazy the next day. Is it expensive to print from home, sorta. Inks are spendy.

    Also, I like to do my own B&W printing.
     
  9. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Mpix has very good prints, but they are a consumer lab, not a Pro lab.

    If you want to try Pro www.millerslab.com , Mpix's parent lab.
     
  10. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Unless I'm mistaken, mpix is Millers' consumer division. You don't need to get an account for Mpix and can just order a print to see what's what.

    Again, I could be mistaken but I think that the same equipment is used in both it's mainly that Millers gives more service after the initial print.
     
  11. Jim Benton

    Jim Benton TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies.

    I don't think I made myself clear, though.

    What I was asking was not whether lab prints were more cost effective that home produced ones but whether the equipment they used was capable of producing prints of a higher quality.

    Quality is of the utmost importance to me and I was just interested in the whether the equipment that labs used was capable of producing more detailed prints than (for example) an A1 printer from Epson or HP.
     
  12. Montana

    Montana TPF Noob!

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    You can get top quality prints from your ink jet if you have everything PERFECT. Museum quality prints on fine art papers.
     

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