Place for cheap prints

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JerryPH, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've been going around getting 2-3 of the same photos printed out in all the cheapest places I could find... places like Walmart, the local pharmacies, low end local labs and other places.

    One of these places out and out surprised me... my local Costco! When I got their prints yesterday, they were crisper, sharper and better saturated than any of the other "low end" places, so I went and had 6 more pictures done and I just picked them up... four 4X6, an 11X14 and a 16X20, and I have to say that with first last batch I was pleasantly surprised with sending them basic JPGs, but with this second batch, I used their custom printer profiles and the results from their Noritsu 1411 commercial lab printer was impressive. Now, it is not a high end lab, and I have a couple of shots from two commercial higher end photo labs (one in the US one in Canada), but there is not a huge difference in the results.

    The 11X14 is my fav because that is the same one I had done 3 times (2 pro labs and Costco with the custom profiles). The colours are crisp, sharp and very very close to my monitor. Placing the photo up against my calibrated screen and stepping back 4 feet, and they look IDENTICAL. Coming close, you can tell that the resolution on the screen is much better, but damn, the colours are SO CLOSE, I am very very pleased.

    Again, talking about the 11X14, I paid $22Cdn and $14US for the same shot at the pro lab places, and when I place the $2.81 Costco one beside either of the ones from the high end labs, I would love to challenge anyone to tell me the difference... it is that close. You can tell, but your vision had better be awesome and you will have to come to about 1 foot away from the set.

    Doing some reading, apparently, very few Costco locations have these specific commercial quality printers and equivalent printer profiles available at their location, but I am one of the lucky ones, I suppose... I live just down the street from one of them that has the Noritsu printer and matching printer profiles that I downloaded and installed from the net.

    Anyways, for anything except professional sales/use, I would have no qualms printing out something for my family in this manner from Costco.

    Check it out and try it yourself... maybe you too are one of the lucky ones where the printers and profiles are available locally to you... if so, try it out and let us know if your results were as good as mine were, the prices are so cheap, a good 11X14 test will cost you under 3 bucks!

    Remember, have a calibrated monitor and use their profiles... then let me know. I would be really interested in hearing if this is a fluke or Costco is suddenly on the ball doing something right. :)
     
  2. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Not all Costco's are created equal. However, if the one near you has the right equipment............
     
  3. Sherman Banks

    Sherman Banks TPF Noob!

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    How did you find out which printer they used? I've seen sites to download the printer profiles, but I'm unsure how you actually find out which one they're using. I don't expect the photo department to be up on the type of printer and the correct profiles, but maybe I'm wrong.
     
  4. MissMia

    MissMia TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the info! I called the one near my house and they have Noritsu and told me where I could download the files. I'm going to give them a try next week.
     
  5. musicaleCA

    musicaleCA TPF Noob!

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    Damn. That's pretty lucky and a good find. Too bad I don't live near a Costco. :(

    Maybe I can finagle my local Lens and Shutter into getting me the printer they use, or even handing me the profiles for it. They have decent enough printing and they actually correct things like brightness (which I just know I'm getting horribly wrong sometimes).
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've always found Costco to be better than the other 'cheap' labs. But not as good as a pro lab.
     
  7. In His Image

    In His Image TPF Noob!

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    So, quickly when I call them to find out what exactly do I ask?? I have two relatively close in the area so, I'm thinkin one of the two is bound to have it....
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you call, they will tell you, but on the Canada site, they tell you what each site uses. When I went to pick up my last batch, they had decommissioned all the printers except the Noritsu one at my location. Do not discount the AGFA printers either, those are EXCELLENT as well.

    Go to THIS site at your local Costco site, thats how I knew which profile to download and use. It also tells you what printer is where. :)
    Note: US people just scroll down lower on the left side to find US and other international locations.
     
  9. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Definitely. For anything special or for paying clients, I would not want to use Costco, but for playing around and my own personal stuff, I do not need top of the line results all the time, but for the times that you do... nothing beats a pro lab.

    Other advantages are longevity. Likely the Costco prints will not look good for as long as the pro lab inks and papers will in the long run.

    Use the appropriate location for the needs. There are times when nothing but a pro lab is acceptable, other times, Costco will do fine.
     
  10. Clawed

    Clawed TPF Noob!

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    Hey, thanks for the great tip, I will definitely check them out.

    By the way, do you happen to know the difference between the Noritsu printers? Seems that most in my area use the Noritsu 34-Pro, 3411 and 3111.

    I used to be a tech at a local drugstore several years ago, and we used the 3111, but I have no idea how it compares.
     
  11. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The cost of the gas it would take me to get to the nearest Costco would make the prints not so cheap for me. I'll remember them if I ever live closer to one though.


    Luckily, the local Wal-Mart does pretty good work, and the prices are probably similar to Costco's.
     
  12. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I do not know what the differences are. Oh, small correction... seems I need to watch my typing a little more... meant to type "3411" and wrote "1411" as the printer model. My mistake, sorry. :blushing:

    They may do ok for playing, but if it is the same as the results from either our local Walmart and a brand new Super Walmart... neither will come close to Costco using straight up files. The differences were even more when the printer profiles were used on the Costco files. Not trying to be a jerk, just stating my results. :)

    Since you do not have a Costco close to you, it may be worth doing the test at a few places that are local to you... Walgreens and what not, and don't be afraid to check out a few local labs. Some may be marginally more expensive with way finer results.
     

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