Buying a printer <vs> Using a lab

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Destin, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Up until now I’ve used an online lab for all my printing and I’ve been happy with that. But the more I think about it the more I would like to be able to print at home and have complete control over the entire process.

    I don’t print a ton though and admittedly I’m not well educated on printers. BH has the Canon Pixma Pro 100 printer on sale for $399 right now and it looks like a pretty good option.

    Can anyone throw in your experience on printing at home vs using a lab? Will a $400 printer really give me results equal or better than a lab using a several thousand dollar printer? Is it feasible cost wise with ongoing ink costs?


     
  2. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have spent more on printers, ink, paper, than I would have on outside lab service. You will have complete control. But probably not save any money. Though I find it nice to have to quickly print up contact sheets and even final prints that I want quick.

    I have used Just Epson printers for about 22 years now. My biggest issue is long periods of no used. Wastes lots of ink whe you do fire it up. Goes into a cleaning cycle. Quality of prints are very good.
     
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  3. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    What do you consider to be long periods of non-use?

    I’d probably be printing 3-4 prints per month on average.
     
  4. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    From what I read at least with Epsons they do a full cleaning cycle after 6 days, and do a quick cleaning about every 2 days. I guess you can go in and make changes. I never got that far into the printers operations. If you print say every day or two. They don't do the cleaning.
     
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  5. Ysarex

    Ysarex Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Better than the lab. BUT, you'll need to be able to profile the printer paper combination you use so more money: https://www.amazon.com/X-Rite-CMUNP...pID=51vVEyDc4RL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch
    Expect to pay as much or more than the cost of lab prints. Do not do this thinking you'll save money. Do it because you expect to get better results. The Canon printer is excellent and ink costs are a little less for Canon versus Epson. A comparison helps: Bruichladdich PC5 Port Charlotte Evolution Cask Strength First Edition - Buy Online - LoveScotch
    That scotch is between 2 and 3 times cheaper than Canon ink ounce per ounce.
    Ben's warning is critical -- this is the big problem with home printing. The inks are either suspended or dissolved in water (pigment/dye). When you leave the printer unused for periods of multiple weeks (we get in trouble in the college labs for example over Xmas break) the water evaporates away in the print heads and ink delivery system. The printer cleans out the print heads and ink delivery system by forcing ink through -- ink is used as the cleaning fluid. Now think of that scotch and imagine that for every shot you get to drink you have to pour one down the drain.

    Joe
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Lab prints save money, by far. My older,then high-ish end EPSON 1280 Photo printer made gorgeous prints, especially the large ones, or large, B&W images, but the cost per image, in ink and paper, was pretty high. Cleaning the heads was a regal PITA too...cleaning always burned up a fair amount of ink too, or so it seemed. And whenever I needed to make "One print!", but needed supplies, it was always a $30-$60 cash-grab. The doggone inks were very costly. Paper was not cheap either.

    I dunno...lab printing is so easy. And they have all that they need, on-hand. TO me, the FAST, QUICK and EASY availability of kiosk-type printing machines at RiteAid, from FujiFilm or Kodak, was another step in-between home-printing and "lab" prints, both in terms of speed, ease, and cost per image. The Kodak machine I speak of was like a $60,000 printer system, and could do 8x 12s and smaller, with VERY gorgeous results, on "photo paper", or so it appeared to me. VERY pretty prints.
     
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  7. JonA_CT

    JonA_CT TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    The only reason I’d consider printing at home is if I frequently had mission critical prints that I needed immediately. Otherwise, Miller Pro does a great job at a reasonable price with decent turn around. I’m not sure the initial investment is worth it.
     
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  8. JonA_CT

    JonA_CT TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Derrel, you’ve had good luck with the pharmacy printers? The last batch I got from Walgreens were flat and washed out. I haven’t ordered from there since.
     
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  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, the local RiteAid's printers, both Fuji and Kodak, in-store, gave/give great prints. Same with RiteAid's FTP upload and in-plant (their lab) prints were/are good.

    Never have done business with Walgreen's. Depends on how well the company maintains and attends to their photo business, I guess.
     
  10. chuasam

    chuasam Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I have found it far cheaper to print at Costco vs owning a printer.
    If you work with the same costco, you can get their colour profile or at least run a bunch of tests till you feel your monitor matches their printer...and bam...prepare to save money
     
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  11. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Not only is it generally cheaper to use a lab, it saves a HUGE amount of time, and provides a far greater variety of products than I could offer my clients otherwise.
     
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  12. orf

    orf No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The thing in all this is valueing your time/learning to delegate, outsource to save you time. To have complete control means also having all the associated problems and costs (to control). Why burden yourself? It's better to use a commercial operation that's already running and handles all the problems.
     
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