Printing my own prints... Reasonable?

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by keith204, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I just recently started doing portraits. What are the downsides of doing my own printing? It would sure be nice to have the control and instant results, but what kind of money would I have to spend to get anything good enough to pass along final prints?
     
  2. Flash Harry

    Flash Harry TPF Noob!

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    between £300 & £1000 over here 300 being inkjet and the grand a dye sub. H
     
  3. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Don't forget you will need calibration software/hardware for the moniter and the printer as well - I think spyders all in one kit is around £300,
    Don't forget that as well as the top end printer you will need the inks to go in it as well - that is where the real heavy money is since its a constant investment as opposed to one time
     
  4. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    None. Oh, the prints only last 40 years when hung on a wall behind glass.


    Between $180 and $400 for an A4 (8x10) inkjet. And really that's all you need. People will tell you that you need calibration software but that's malarky. Look at the print, take it outside, look at it in a different room. that's all you need to do. If it looks right to you then great, if it doesn't then change the color balance and reprint. Print "L" sized ones first for testing if you're not sure what the results will be. I suppose it would be different if you were color-matching to something specific. Also when eyeing the color wait 20min after the print is finished because the color changes during that time. You'll end up having to eye it even if you calibrate anyway - and printer calibration systems (which should sell for $20~$50 IMHO) are cost prohibitive and a half!!!

    The ink is the real cost with inkjets so you might want to look into 3rd party bulk inks. Find out what their lifespan in print is 1st tho.

    The other decision you might want to face before you buy is number of ink-cartridges. There are 5, 7, and 9 cartridge printers that I'm aware of. The upside to more cartridges is a much wider gamut. This means less banding and smoother deeper looking gradients and near solid fields of color. The downside to more cartridges is that the price per print increases. I think it's something like $0.50 for a 5 cartridge 8x10 and $0.80 for a 7 cartridge system to print the same (this includes the paper if I remember right). I haven't looked at 9-cartridge systems so I don't know the price difference between 7 and 9. Tip: if you're going with a 5-cart then you can manually kill all the banding by magic wand selecting the trouble area and adding noise and/or blurring it - this will make the resulting print appear almost exactly the same as a 7-cart print.

    My last two were Canons but I dunno which is better Epson, Canon, or HP. I think they're all about the same (shrug). Others will probably know more. So far every printer review I've read seemed like hog-wash designed primarily to get printer manufacturers to spend ad money on the site or however it works. :p

    Hope that helps...
     
  5. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I give up.

    Now, back to Walmart...
     
  6. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    hehe true I do agree calibration gear is overpriced ;)
    Whilst eyeballing prints is fine I think though that a moniter calibration setup is almost essentail - though you could eyeball that as well its adding a little too much eyeballing and guesswork for printing I feel.

    Isn't there any online or local printing firm better than Walmart? My impression from your first post was that you were going into some earning situation with the portrates and a local printing firm might offer good rates on superior quality if you are going to be making regular orders
     
  7. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I'm kidding about Walmart. However, the local lab (30 miles away) does a terrible job. Maybe not terrible, but nothing "stunning" like I get back from Smugmug. Ordering from there, or the likes, is what I'll be doing. It just takes a few days, and I am very impatient.
     
  8. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    www.whcc.com

    That's my preference.

    It's just easier imo. Plus they can do redonkulous sizes and it's all on archival quality paper and not printed by and ink printer.
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    Have you tried Mpix.com? They are supposedly pretty good.
     
  10. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Besides physical location, what's the difference between printing from a machine attached to my computer by 10' long cables or 500 mile long cables? In both instances I can calibrate for the printer, do all the processing, and request no corrections. One difference is in the immediacy in which the print is available to me. Another is that the equipment at Mpix, WHCC, Buckeye, or whatever lab tends to be a lot cooler than what I can afford. I guess I don't get to control how they set up their machines, but with the variety of labs available almost any service/set-up can be found.
     
  12. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    There's quite a big price difference for high quality inkjet printing:

    Colour:
    WHCC price for a 'Fine Art' 16x20: $56.40
    Same quality, done on a decent Epson at home: about $10.

    B&W:
    Cone Editions Piezography 16x20: $80
    Same ink, same paper, done at home: about $9

    If you do it yourself you are also likely to have a much wider range of surface choices than if it is done commercially.

    Best,
    Helen
     

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