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Old Oct 24, 2005, 10:04 PM   #11
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If you go to Walmart or CostCo and get the print made there (they have good equipment and can produce very good prints. And they are *very* cheap.) then you will probably not save money doing it yourself.... but there are a lot of "but"s here:

but you don't know who runs the machine. The good person could leave at the drop of a hat and you'll be stuck getting prints made by someone who doesn't have a clue.

but they could clean the machine and use a different ink set and the prints won't look as good.

but they could press the wrong button and leave the "color correction" on and your nice abstract scene could look really wrong because they "corrected" the faces to an "average skin tone".) They often have minimal training on the equipment.

but they could switch papers on you and you'll get a much cheaper paper, or one that doesn't absorb the inks as well.

Basically what you get at those places are not well trained people using equipment that might not be properly taken care of or calibrated. But it is good equipment that is designed to be used by people without a lot of training. For dirt cheap you can get really good prints... or you can get garbage. (and it should be said, some of them do know what they are doing. But certainly not all of them.)

If you are a perfectionist, if you really care about getting quality prints.... get a good printer and do it yourself. Setup a full color management system. Then you'll know that what you see on your monitor is what you'll get out of the printer. And you'll make a print and it will be "right" the first time (although it does happen that what is "right" on the screen doesn't look "right" on paper. It isn't that it is print is different, it's just that a monitor produces light and a print reflects light. They aren't exactly the same and the "feel" of an image on screen isn't the same when its on paper.)

As to the life of images. Epson has their inks tested by an company and quotes their archival life. Since not many companies even claim to have archival inks (although in the last year or so a few do now), I think them getting them tested out-of-house is a good start. I don't expect the life they say, but I have had good results with prints over a year old not under glass.

Nothing is perfect, but Epson's inks are very, very good. I've also heard really good things about the absolute latest HP printer & inks, with HP paper. They've come up with some amazing tech that if true causes the inks to absorb into the paper and then the paper seals over it. Some really great photographers love it, but I haven't seen anything printed from one.

Eric
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Old Oct 24, 2005, 10:40 PM   #12
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Actually I've had some okay results from Walmart

But seriously, someprint shopsdon'treplenish their chemicals often enough.

They are literally making your prints using aquarium water from the pet shop down the road.

The nice thing about having your own printer, as EricS mentioned, is you have control.

You can decide what printer to use, what ink to use, the quality of the paper, optimize your results with software, reprint if needed, etc. etc.

It may not save you a ton of money, but having your own photo printer gives you the power to be the Ansel Adams of your digital dark room.

And that, my friend, is a beautiful thing!

-- Terry
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Old Oct 25, 2005, 6:44 AM   #13
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I know some people who get good results from CostCo, and if they don't they just go back and have them reprint it. Sounds like a bit of a crap shoot to me. But some people are willing to accept that hassle for the great price.

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It may not save you a ton of money, but having your own photo printer gives you the power to be the Ansel Adams of your digital dark room.
Terry - Speaking of Ansel, have you been to the MFA yet to see the Ansel Adams exhibit? I haven't yet, but it's on my list of things to do. I know many who have and it sounds really great.

Eric
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Old Oct 25, 2005, 10:49 AM   #14
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Oh, it's in Boston?

Hmm, I wil have to go.

I like his work, especially his printing and dodging/burning techniques - a real master.

One thing I learned about Ansel, is if I want to be really good at anything, be really good at one thing in particular.

I don't think Adams tried to be the swiss army knife of photographers - he didn't try to do portrait, wedding, product, etc. etc. etc. but really focused on nature and landscape photography.

I've really zero'd in on sports photography, and as a result, the rest of my photography has improved.

I'll check it out.

Terry


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