Printer Question

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by avil, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. avil

    avil TPF Noob!

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    I have a question concerning photo quality printers. I am just stepping over from film and I am not familiar with printing quality. I am doing a project on the side and I have to make some 11 x 17 reproductions. I currently take them to the local lab and it is pretty expensive. I noticed that some of the wide printers have come down in price, I see several on the B and H website for under $400. The lab obviously has a very good printer and does a great job. Are these medium range printer capable of making a print that is close to what the lab does? I would definitely get the best paper available for the printer; price is secondary, I am most concerned with the print quality. Any recommendations on a printer? Thanks.
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you're most concerned with quality then stick to a lab. There are many technologies that are available from local labs for great prices which will easily outrank what you can achieve from a home printer. Economies of scale also come into it. You said a wide printer, but how much do you think it would cost per print in terms of paper and ink to roll off an A3 sized photo at the highest quality from a consumer printer? Then consider that I bought a 40" wide print for $35AU ($20US at the time) printed on metalic paper using a fancy LED based printer (yeah they print with light and then develop the final image). That would be the peak you'll get quality wise, but you'd never get there without a MASSIVE budget.

    That said for average print jobs most home printers would definitely suffice. Seeing what comes out of cheap home printers now I can only imagine photo printers in the $400 price range could produce, but it won't match the quality or economies of scale of a decent lab (which may be somewhat hard to find these days).
     
  3. Big Mike

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

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    I agree with Garbz.
    The primary advantage of having your own printer will be convenience (except when you unexpectedly run out of ink or paper). But if you are concerned about long term costs and about consistent, high quality prints, then using a good lab is the way to go.
     
  4. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    In regards to the original post and the cost requirements I'd have to agree with Garbz and Mike.

    A good photo printer will serve an individual who is concerned about consistency and quality better than a lab. Plus you have more control and see "instant" results where you can make corrections. However "good photo printer" is subjective and IMO they start around $900 and will cost a small fortune in ink over time. Not cost effective by any means.
     
  5. avil

    avil TPF Noob!

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    Good advice. Will stick with the lab.
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That does work on a general level but is entirely lab dependant. I certainly wouldn't trust consistency and quality to any of the local mum and pop labs around locally. But find a lab that does a decent job... mine even sends me proofs before printing bigger jobs, or large pictures, and will let you view your image on their colour calibrated gear before agreeing to print.

    As always these factors are highly dependant on where you go, but on the general sense a lab will typically have a much higher quality and better calibrated printer than any consumer unit with a cheap aftermarket calibrator. Whether or not the staff are competent or not is variable.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Agree... Its usually better to go with a dedicated lab for prints. I have an Epson 2200 (always been a fan of Epson printers/scanners). It does very well for many but I find prints from MPIX.com well worth the effort of sending off for prints.


    [edit]
    As for consistency, I do know mpix does provide the proper profiles and such for soft proofing. They also will ~not~ color correct or anything else if specified.
     
  8. Guido44

    Guido44 TPF Noob!

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    Costco Photo. (If you have one close by)

    11 X 17 prints are $2.99. If you want larger prints, they have 16 X 20 posters and 20 X 30 posters for $5.99 and $8.99.

    You can upload them to your own account for free.

    Quality is first rate.

    Dan
     
  9. itznfb

    itznfb TPF Noob!

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    I think this is the key to finding a consistently good lab.
     
  10. avil

    avil TPF Noob!

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    My local lab does very good work. The owner actually does all the printing himself. It also turned out that I was using the wrong price sheet he had posted on the internet so the cost turned out to be much less than I thought.
     
  11. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    Umm....No they are not first rate.

    I have sent prints to all the labs in my city and they all look OK when you pick them up, but when you put them side by side with a pro lab print you can see how bad they are.

    The last set I got from Costco had a Green Hue to them that most would not notice untill they compair it to a good lab.

    I actually keep all of them framed together in my studio to show people the difference between prints the would get a Costco/Walmart vs what I will give them. I tend to sell more prints after they see that.
     
  12. Big Mike

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

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    I agree.

    My experience is that Costco is typically better than Wal-mart, but that's not saying much. The results from the Pro lab are significantly better and they are consistent, which what most non-pro labs lack.
     

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