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RonE Jul 7, 2004 6:04 PM

Has anyone actually compared the TRUE cost of printing photos at home. (paper, ink, etc) to using a lab?

For instance - if I do the enhancements I want and print it at a lab the cost is about 25 cents for a 4 X6.

What is the cost for doing them at home?

JimC Jul 7, 2004 6:27 PM

HiTi Dye Sub printers have a cost per 4"x6" print of about 40 cents.

Other printers should behigher.

Here is Steve's review of a HiTi 640GALA:

Note Steve's comments about the HiTi, in the section titled "Low Cost 4" x 6" Printing":

"In comparison the Sony 25-print pack costs $19.95, twice the price per print at $0.80. And inkjet printers can be expensive too: HP PhotoSmart 100 $0.83, HP Deskjet 990cxi $0.88, Epson and Canon are about $0.86. (Per print costs calculated by the cost of ink cartridges and photo paper used to produce an equivalent number of 4x6" photo prints.) And those inkjet prints have no water or UV resistant qualities."

BTW, PC Magazine includes a print cost comparison in their printer reviews, but I don't know how accurate is is.

Wildman Jul 7, 2004 8:29 PM

I keep a pack of 4 X 6 paper near my computer for those wonderful grandkid pix that I get attached to e-mails from my kids. Great "stick it on the refrigerator" stuff. Sounds like one of those Master Card ads... I regularly print larger photos on my Epson 1270 or Canon 9100, just because of the convenience.

I expect it's a little less expensive to go to Wal-Mart or where-ever, but I like the capability of doing it myself sometimes. I haven't priced no bleed 13 X 19's but I know I like to be able to do it myself when I chose to do so.

RonE Jul 7, 2004 10:11 PM

Thanks for your help. My initial study indicated a substantial cost differential. However I like to get other opinions.

I guess what I'll do is maintain the availability toprint at home - but for the most part - it'll be farmed to labs.

eric s Jul 7, 2004 10:25 PM

But once you start talking about big prints, it gets cheaper to do it your self by a large margin. I just got several 11x14's printed and one place priced it at $22 and the other was $32 (the other was a full service shot, the other was like "fill out this form, give me your CD, goodbye"

My friend who uses a epsons 2200 and a 7600 quoted me prices around $6 or so per print. I don't remember which printer that came from, but I think it was for that size.


RonE Jul 7, 2004 10:41 PM


Owning a 4 color HP, I wonder how many large prints could be made before exhausting the ink. The 3 color cartridge has smaller tanks for each color. The price of one cartridge may be as much or more than the large number of prints you made.

With all the info on the web - surely there is a site that has reviewed this. If I can find one - I'll post it.


slipe Jul 7, 2004 11:04 PM

I fill my own cartridges with quality ink and use Red River paper for the most part. I print 4 X 5.33s which is the right ratio for most non-SLR digital cameras. I can get 4 on a sheet for about 6c each. I prefer to print 5 X 7s to pass around and they are about 12c each.

You have to profile for non-factory ink and paper, but it is worth the effort. Canon Pro paper and Canon ink give ever so slightly better prints, but at a very large cost increase.

eric s Jul 8, 2004 8:46 AM

Doesn't using non-OEM inks void your warrenty? (I actually don't know with Canon, but its true with Epson.)

The ink wells in the 2200 and larger printers are larger than the smaller 12" capable printers. They are also more expensive, though.


JimC Jul 8, 2004 8:59 AM

Keep in mind, that any valid study you find (that is based on actual photos, using high quality photo paper), is likely to be based on Factory Papers and Inks.

You can usually do much better by shopping online (or watching for sales) for your supplies. So, take this into consideration, too.

Also, as Slipe mentioned above, you can save a lot of money by going with third party ink and paper.

I use3rd party paper, but I don't use 3rd party ink (I'm using an older HP Printer PHotosmart 1215 as my primary photo printer). With my HP, you replace the printheads, everytime you replace the ink cartridges. So, cost does seem to be a bit higher than with other manufacturer's printers.

However, I don't have to put up with clogged nozzles, or need to run cleaning cycles (which waste ink) with my HP. So, the cost difference may not be as great as sometimes perceived. I've never yet had a clogged nozzle on my HP. I can't say the same for other photoprinters I've used (although I'd hopethat inkjet printers are gettingbetter with this now).

slipe Jul 8, 2004 9:17 AM

eric s wrote:

Doesn't using non-OEM inks void your warrenty?

I suppose if you are stupid enough to send it in for service with aftermarket ink tanks installed they would void the warranty. Part of your troubleshooting would be to install factory tanks. I can't really see the service vendor taking scrapings from the heads and bombarding it with high energy particles to do a spectroscope analysis to check whether you had clogged the heads with aftermarket ink.

I'm on my third pint of pigmented black for my HP general purpose printers. Refilling is actually easier than stocking spare tanks. I was having odd problems with my boat and someone on the jetboat forums offered the service manual. I printed it for the mechanic. The manual was about 500 pages and I printed on both sides so I could get by with a half-ream of paper. You don't want to run out of ink halfway through the second side. I've done it and it's hard to recover. From the time I pulled the black cartridge until it was back in the printer full was less than 5 minutes. The Canon color cartridges for my photo printer are almost as easy to fill. Color on the HP requires a little more of a learning curve, but worth it IMO.

Epson welds the heads to the printer, but the Canon heads can be removed and soaked in ammonia or hot water. A worse case would be to replace them. The Epsons need service if you can't clear a clog. HPs don't clog. I got a free HP 930 back before the dot com crash. I stored my 700 series HP with the cartridges still installed. I gave it away almost 3 years later and it still printed perfectly with the old cartridges – which were refilled BTW. You don't want to leave an Epson or Canon for very long without printing something.

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