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Old Aug 21, 2004, 4:52 AM   #1
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I just got 40 or so photos developed at a local retail store. They're using a Fuji Frontier lab to develop the shots, and despite having some issues trying to feed 35MB TIFF files into their system, the process was painless and the resulting prints look flawless.

Unfortunately, the price to get a large number of 6"x4" shots or a small number of larger prints quickly adds up and I've been looking again at getting a dedicated photo-printer.

So my question is, running a printer like an Epson R300 or R800, or a Canon i960 do you really get prints that equal the quality of those printing in these mini-labs?

In my experience "photo-quality" and "photo-realistic" and generally terms that are used to describe products that almost, but don't quite, reach true photo quality standards..

Any thoughts would be appreciated..

PW
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Old Aug 21, 2004, 9:54 AM   #2
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Damnit - The forum gave me a php error when I was making the topic so I reposted it.. it wouldn't let me have a poll so i delete the poll and tried again.. little did I know it had posted itself successfully.. sorry..
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Old Aug 21, 2004, 11:19 AM   #3
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>> So my question is, running a printer like an Epson R300 or R800, or a Canon i960 do you really get prints that equal the quality of those printing in these mini-labs?

Without a doubt, Yes, I feel you can find a printer with results equal to or exceptionally close.

I have been putting off getting a printer for a long time because I've had the same question you do. Here is what I did recently. Perhaps it'll help you decide on a printer. I did some searches for reviews to get a good feel for quality/cost of operation. Once I narrowed it down, I went to a store that will print demos to ask them to do this. I even brought in my own images for them to print, which I then compared against my local lab which also uses the Fuji Frontier. Finally, becuase I was still a bit undecided (the demo printer needed calibrating and I didn't realize that at the time), I just bought the printer (Epson PictureMate) knowing I could return it within 14 days if I wished. I couldn't be happier with the prints. The color and clarity seems as good as my lab prints. The only real difference I can easily see is that they aren't quite as glossy as my lab prints, but then they also don't show finger prints as easy either. I've shown them to many people and I have heard many comments that they look like they were done at a lab.

I don't have any experice with the Epson models you mention, but I'm sure you'll find one that will give the results you desire .... it's just amazing ... I never would have thought printing pictures with the quality I desire would be so easy. As you search for a printer though, just make sure you keep in mind the cost of operation of the printer since some of them can be very costly. Mine only cost 30 cents for a print, so I'm paying a little less than I used to and I get a lot more convience since I don't have to drive to the store or wait a week for the prints to come in the mail.
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Old Aug 21, 2004, 7:31 PM   #4
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mdparker wrote:
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As you search for a printer though, just make sure you keep in mind the cost of operation of the printer since some of them can be very costly. Mine only cost 30 cents for a print...
How have you managed to work out this cost? I would think that working out the number of prints you get from an ink cartridge would be a little difficult.

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Old Aug 22, 2004, 3:16 PM   #5
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Epson sells a convenient PictureMate Print Pack for about $30. It comes with a new ink cartridge, and 100 sheets of 4x6 photo paper. The cartridge is suppose to print about 100 photos.
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Old Aug 22, 2004, 3:30 PM   #6
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There has been a recent test done by a German lab that is published by various consumer magazines. The lab apparently printed A4 then divided by 4 to get a cost per 6x4. The quoted ink pricein $NZ for R800 = 0.77, i990 = 0.49 and R300 = 0.53.

When you add paper for small prints it is convenience not cost saving.
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Old Aug 22, 2004, 7:15 PM   #7
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Paul_D wrote:
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There has been a recent test done by a German lab that is published by various consumer magazines. The lab apparently printed A4 then divided by 4 to get a cost per 6x4. The quoted ink price in $NZ for R800 = 0.77, i990 = 0.49 and R300 = 0.53.

Is there any chance you know where details of this test could be found online? I'm hitting goggle up for some answers as I type this, but not getting far..

Paul_D wrote:
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When you add paper for small prints it is convenience not cost saving.
So for small prints it is convenience ( and privacy ) that would be the Pros. Larger prints though would definately be cheaper to print at home though, right? The costs seem to drastically increase at labs for anything bigger than 6x4s.. far greater than the actual difference in paper-size and ink used...


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Old Aug 22, 2004, 7:44 PM   #8
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As Jonathan stated, the cost per pic, is pretty easy to determine on mine because of the way Epson packages it, but I've also just seen reviews of printers and in the review they might mention numbers. Unfortunately I cannot think of any sites off hand.

Yes, I would think larger prints would be cheaper to print at home. In my case though, I print 99% 4x6 with only the occasional larger size so I looked at it from the stand point of finding an economical printer for small sizes; big sizes didn't even come into the equation for me.
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Old Aug 22, 2004, 8:37 PM   #9
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The inkjet print quality is as good, but the prints aren't usually as fade or water resistant as the prints from the Frontier. Some Epson printers use pigmented ink, which is better for fade resistance. They are still more subject to fingerprints etc though. Prints from the Frontier are better for handling by multiple people. You can usually rub any fingerprints off with a soft, dry cloth. They aren't as easy to remove from inkjet prints.

Canon cartridges are easy to refill if you have access to good quality ink. I would know where to steer you in the US. Someone down under probably knows of a vendor that handles quality ink make specifically for the printer. Epson adds a degree of difficulty to refilling with a chip that prevents the printer from printing once it calculates the cartridge is empty. Canon actually measures the ink in the cartridge.

I get Red River paper on sale and refill with aftermarket ink. I usually print 5 X 7s to pass around and they are around 13c each if I put 2 on a sheet. You have to calibrate your output if you use paper or ink other than factory though. It is worth the hassle. I can get four 4 X 5.33 images on a single sheet at about 7c each. They don't fit in albums as well but look better than 4 X 6 IMO.

I have a strong light under the edge of my paper trimmer. It makes it a lot easier to cut at exactly the right place. You can get three 4 X 6 prints from an 8.5 X 11 sheet. There are only two cuts per image (one cut gets the bottom of two) if you print borderless and put them in the corners. That is cheaper than buying 4 X 6 stock.

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Old Aug 22, 2004, 9:39 PM   #10
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PlatinumWeaver wrote:
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Is there any chance you know where details of this test could be found online? I'm hitting goggle up for some answers as I type this, but not getting far..
style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #666666"

http://www.choice.com.auwill have it somewhere but you need a membership.

There was a Danish site with same material (in Danish of course) that I found using Google Groups search. I think I searched on "cheapest running costs" or similar in comp.periphs.printers.

You may find it in your local library in July issue of Choice. PC-Plus, a UK magazine had a similar test around Feb 2004.
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