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Old Mar 27, 2010, 10:23 AM   #1
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Default Is it worth it?

As a new boy to digital (film user of old, nigh on 20 years ago) I'm wondering whether it's cost effective to buy, maintain, and use a printer or whether it more economical to have prints produced by a third party.

Back in the day I would produce contact sheets, but only print, perhaps, at a ration of one in fifty - mainly to an equivalent of A3 - so I probably wouldn't be a prolific printer of digital images either.

Thanks in advance.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 10:28 AM   #2
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it is cheaper to just go to a shop to print, the ink is not cheap nor the paper for a dedicated photo printer.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 11:19 AM   #3
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If 4x6" prints are most of what you will want, then I would agree you would be better off getting them printed by third party. There are certain hassles associated with owning a photo printer, such as using it enough to prevent head clogging, high ink cost, etc.
If you want to do really high quality, large prints (11" and larger), then the cost of third party printing goes way up, and the economics become a little more tipped in favor of printing your own. In this case, to me, one of the biggest advantages of having the printer, is having more control over the output, without going back and forth with a third party over color issues.

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Old Mar 27, 2010, 12:11 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTphotog View Post
If 4x6" prints are most of what you will want, then I would agree you would be better off getting them printed by third party. There are certain hassles associated with owning a photo printer, such as using it enough to prevent head clogging, high ink cost, etc.
If you want to do really high quality, large prints (11" and larger), then the cost of third party printing goes way up, and the economics become a little more tipped in favor of printing your own. In this case, to me, one of the biggest advantages of having the printer, is having more control over the output, without going back and forth with a third party over color issues.

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Spot on!

Printing 16x20 with my own printer would cost me about $4, compared to $75 and up at a service bureau.

Yet these small prints add up quite quickly in cost.

Even so, we all need printers - Doesn't hurt to do a rough draft with "good" plain paper to give you an idea of how a photograph will look.

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Old Mar 27, 2010, 12:31 PM   #5
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I'd go in a different direction.

Certainly if you want a print larger than a letter size sheet (8.5x11) then, absolutely, go to a third party.

But most color inkjet printers will do an excellent job printing photos, and you don't need to use them just for printing photos. I've had a Hewlett-Packard CP1160 for years, and it has always done well printing photos. I wanted to try something "better" so I got an Epson Sytlus Photo R800. While it is very good, it's not a lot better than my HP with the right paper.

If you've already got a good color inkjet printer, buy some appropriate photo paper and try it out. If you don't already have a printer, pick one that can can print your documents, while still doing a reasonable job with your photos.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 2:52 PM   #6
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I've got printers at home. But, for the most part, it's not worth the hassle compared to just letting someone else do it. So, I don't print that often anymore.

There's a Walgreens pharmacy at the corner heading out of our subdivision and I can just upload the images to their web site and pick up the prints about 45 minutes later. :-)

They have coupons and specials on a regular basis to keep your costs down. 4x6" prints run anywhere from about .12/print (or sometimes lower if you look for sales and coupons) to around .19/print (lower volume, 1 hour or less printing with no coupons or specials). For example, they've got a special right now going that gets you 60 prints for $6.99.

Larger prints are higher. But, they're not too bad unless you're printing a lot of that type of thing. For example, 16x20" prints are running $13.99 right now.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 3:00 PM   #7
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Another thing is how much do you really print weather a photo printer is worth it I guess.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 3:12 PM   #8
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I use my printers for an occasional print.

But, for any kind of volume at all, it's much easier just to let someone else print them, especially if you have a way to upload them to a nearby printer and pick them up quickly (or can wait on them to send them in the mail to you, which can lower your cost per print).

The Walgreens at my corner does a pretty good job for 1 hour delivery type printing (and they're usually ready even faster). So, I often use them for quick print jobs (mostly 4x6" with a few 8x10" prints mixed into the orders) by just uploading the images and filling out an online order form. They'll often include coupons for discounts on future orders when you pick up your prints, too. Also, you'll often see online coupon codes for discounts if you check their photo page:

http://photo.walgreens.com/

Of course, the quality you can expect probably depends on how well they maintain their printers and the people working at a given location. You'll find good and bad quality at most of these types of printers. But, overall, the local guys here do a pretty good job, and it's very convenient for me to use them.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 11:42 PM   #9
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If I need a couple of prints now, I'll print it at home on my photo printer. Otherwise, I send it out to be printed and wait for the email that the job is ready for pickup.
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Old Apr 2, 2010, 5:06 PM   #10
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I just got a poster printed of my kids at one of the two Walmarts in my city that do large prints, 20x30 for 12.96, it came out awesome.
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