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Old Aug 21, 2006, 10:58 PM   #1
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Hi guys. I am wanting to get my images printed for framing but am looking at the best possible quality that is affordable. I have a canon i560 and on Kodak Ultima paper (high gloss) the images are ok but certainly not pro quality.

Is ispossible to invest in a printer that will do apro job. What sort of money do I need to spend $AU? What standard of paper will I need?

Or is it best to seek out a lab that can do it for me. ?? Thanks.

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Old Aug 22, 2006, 7:10 AM   #2
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I do very little printing at home.


the above link is from the May issue of Popular Photography rating online photo labs and picture quality. I use bothMpix and Shutterfly depending on the situation. Not sure of shipping costs down under (I'm in the States). You can contact the labs on that. Like you, I have never found a consumer-grade inkjet print that can produce lab-quality detail and durability. Dye-sublimation prints are more durable, but media and ribbons are expensive and not always readily available. I sent a few test prints to several labs and for the 20 t 30 cents (US$) each plus shipping (4x6's) it told me what I needed to know.
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Old Aug 22, 2006, 6:21 PM   #3
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I use Shutterfly for my printing, after trying them, Winkflash and EasyShare. Shutterfly had the best color match for me, and at 19 cents a print (4X6) plus shipping, for me it was a better alternative to printing at home.
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Old Aug 22, 2006, 6:25 PM   #4
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I have two photo printers at home, a portable dye-sub, and a 3 year old epson. I use them for convienance and proofs. The both do a good job. However, in terms of cost, service and quality, MPIX is the online service I use. Prices are great, and they are remarkably fast. They also have a lot of special options to choose from, such as canvas prints, framing, etc.
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Old Aug 25, 2006, 1:02 AM   #5
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I took a few nice images to a 2 pro labs near by to see what they could do.
One screwed it up badly, but priced nice prints (they cropped the image to fill the paper.) They were almost 1/2 the price next lab. It was clear they outsourced it. I won't go back to them again.

The other one did some nice things. Offered different papers, called me when one of the images was corrupted on the disk. Made really nice prints. At around $45 a print. Way too much.

Soon after that I purchased an Epson 4000 (a very big printer, I do gallery shows and such.) Its output is stunning.

If you want the control of doing it yourself, I highly recommend epson printers. The R series is quite good and is cheaper. The epson 2400 is good, but more expensive. Then again, its way more flexable. The epson printers come with exelent profiles for their paper (which they make a wide variety of.) And other fine-art paper makers give you high quality paper profiles for the epson printers as well, so you aren't stuck with epson papers (one of the down sides to Canon is that they don't seem to have as much third-party support. They make fairly good printers, but very few seem to offer profiles for them.)

It really depends on how large a print you want to make and if you want to print on glossy or matte papers. Some printers do one or the other better (the Epson 4000 is better at matte... I believe the R line of Epson printers do glossy slightly better than matte.)

Also, you should consider geting a device that will profile your monitor. If your monitor is off, you won't be able to make prints that look like what you see on your monitor. So if you take printing serious, definitely get a device like a Spyder II or even better an Optrix XRpro.

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Old Aug 28, 2006, 9:41 AM   #6
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Yes it is possible. I think it comes down to a couple of issues.

1. Can you find a lab you are happy with?

a. Do they offer paper selection
b. Fair price
c. Do they allow you to soft proof
d. What is their turn-a-round time

2. What will you be printing, size, quantity?

a. paper and ink is not cheap, it may cost you more than having a lab print
your work. However, you are in complete control.
b. Getting good prints takes more than just a good printer. You need to
use a color calibrated work flow. Calibrated monitor, profiled papers (either
use paperfor the printer or create your own (not cheap either).
c. Using inks and paper that will last isn't cheap either.
d. If you will be printing 8x10 or smaller is cheaper than going up to 13x19 and
13x19 is cheaper than getting a printer that will print larger.
e. Don't forget speed, if you will be printing a lot this could be important.

I do 90% of my work is done by a lab. The other 10% is done on by my HP 8750. It does a very nice job of color and B&W prints up to 13x19. Very professional results that I feel look as good as my labs. Cost of this printer was around US 500.00. Smaller models(that can't print 13x19 cost around 300.00).

Hope this helps,
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Old Aug 28, 2006, 10:09 AM   #7
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For pro quality I would suggest WHCC. There prices are fair and they quality is excelent. Customer service is great and speed is fast. They ship all order overnight for free (of course you do need to have a $12 minimum order).

I've also used winkflash which is one of the cheapest services and I must say that for the price they are decent but definetely not pro quality.

I've also signed on with Apollo Imagizing but I haven't tried their quality yet on prints. They are more expensive than WHCC. I signed on with Apollo for their book making service.
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