View Full Version : Home or commercial?
11-01-2005, 11:34 PM
Going pro, is it cheaper to print all your images yourself or use a commercial photo printer? Any opinions would be welcome! Thanks!
11-01-2005, 11:55 PM
I find its cheaper to use a commercial printer. Not only do they have superior equipment, you don't get charged for waste materials. Unless you do a very brisk business in prints, its usually cheaper to send it out IMO.
11-02-2005, 12:44 AM
Thanks, sfaust. I've been spending a lot of time online finding info about commercial printers and have found a few. I can't remember if we are allowed to name specific companies on here or not. If so, let me know because I would like to ask you about one in particular.
11-02-2005, 04:51 AM
Some people enjoy sewing their own clothes, but they'll admit it's often not cost effective. Same goes for making your own mayonnaise, etc. If it's an art form for you and your clients are williing to pay a premium for this custom treatment, go for it, but you're usually far better off to establish a relationship with a lab in your area.
A lab will also bear the liability for the durability of the prints, etc., and you can concentrate on the creative aspects of photography instead of being a print technician.
An inexpensive projector for your computer might be handy. I used to have my 6x7cm negative film developed not into preview prints, but into 35mm slides which I'd project onto mounted blank canvases in the client's home. When I received the print order, I'd project it (at home) on drawing paper and I'd sketchily draw the scene with instructions: Crop to edge of this building... Burn in bald man's head... dodge over here, subdue highlights there, etc. and give my negative and this full-size (or to scale) instruction sheet to the lab. This worked wonderfully for custom prints.
For other jobs, such as high school senior portraits, I'd crop in the camera and send those off to a lab who didn't know me and needed perfect exposures and cropping, but gave me good, cheap, machine prints.
I could never have profitably printed either type of print.
11-02-2005, 08:17 AM
Would the same go for digital photography? I deal solely in digital right now until I feel the need to go with traditional film photography. I have found a few online sources for printing digital...do you know if many of these companies are reputable. I have one in particular in mind that I am wanting to try.
11-02-2005, 09:11 AM
Film or digital, it all comes down to quality control, and in the case of custom printing, communication.
Ask experienced professonals in your area who they use. In fact, since you're going pro, I'd join your local professional photographers' association (chapter of PPofA). That was a real breakthrough for me! Fellow professionals in my area sharing both photographic and business techniques.
11-02-2005, 10:19 AM
Im glad to see this thread. I have struggled with this same question. I guess the real question is, what do you want to print and how soon do you need it. I reacently have gone the route of printing myself and I must say it is not an inexpensive addition to my hobby and the results have not yet met my expectations. The reason I went this route is that I want to do larger prints above 8x10 and up to 13X19. I am also interested in fine art prints more then photos. Fine art giclee prints at 11 X 14 run about 40 - 50 dollars a piece and 13 X 19 are about 60 apeace if done professionally. Well -- that is why I bought a printer. I forked up about 900 dollars and bought the Epson R2400 - supposed to be one of the best consumer printers around and uses a very similar print head to the professional models. Here is where it gets frustrating. Getting good quality prints. I am learning that you have to willing to become dedicated to color management. This comes at an additional cost. You will have to get a good monitor calibration system - app $250 (you may want to have this either way), and a means to create ICC profiles. This is the real challenge. I have tried one system that is software/scanner based and you stil have to make fine adjustents which I cant do - im color blind. Now you have two other alternatives - by the calibration equipment the pros use - i think they are about 6 or 7 thousand dollars... I cant touch that... or have a profile made for you by the pros... This costs about $100 per profile. The real catch is that you need to have a ICC profile for each type of paper you want to print on. GRRRRR Some will even say that each lot of paper should have its on ICC profile. Grrrrrrr. There is also the option of using the ICC profiles that come with the printer software -- I have tried them and find they dont work that well -- Images are always over saturated - I wouldnt want to suggest that oversaturated images use more ink ????? Well -- closing thoughts -- Printing yourself may save money in the long run and give you instant gratifacation - but be prepared there is a lot more to it then buying a good printer and good paper. Good luck. I can t wait to see what Landis writes.
Well.... Here is my two cents.... If you want photographs that are a very good quality I use www.mpix.com. MPIX is very reasonable priced, and their turn around time is awesome.
However, if you are doing art...or your photography is artwork....it is IMPOSSIBLE to beat the quality of an Epson pro printer. I was a printing workshop this weekend, and I was continually AMAZED at the quality of the prints produced.
That said..... depending on what you want to do, but I have recently came to realize that an Epson pro printer is going to be a very good investment on my part.
Just my two cents....take it for what it is worth!!!
11-02-2005, 01:26 PM
jdog--Thanks so much for that comment! Mpix is exactly who I was considering using, but I wasn't sure if we were allowed to name companies here. I'm glad to hear some positive feedback on them--very reassuring.
I'm also glad this thread is helping others! Thanks, brucep for suggesting joining the local PPofA--I'll look into that.
Teachable--I have a Canon PIXMA, but have yet to print any real pictures on it (other than a very small picture of my daughter that my wife printed on her birthday invitations). They turned out well, but I don't know how well it would do with photo paper. I might print rush jobs myself, but I think I'll check out Mpix for the others.
I have had some great results with MPIX, and would strongly recommend them, if that is the type of photograph that you wish to do. Try their metallic paper....IT IS AWESOME!!!!! I use MPIX for any portrait work that I do. Just another FYI about them....it only costs $4 more for FedEx shipping, so if you upload something in the morning, you will have your prints the next day. GREAT SERVICE. Plus, they are a division of Millers....and Millers is a fantastic place!!!
By the way.....Welcome to the Zo....hope that you have a great time here, it is a totally awesome place to learn from others, get your questions answered, and just hang out. It is very addicting!!!!!
11-02-2005, 01:39 PM
Good prints, like good wine always have a price tag on them. When you wade through all the minutia you read on the different forums, which I have done at one point but really listen to very few of them these days, you really have to realize that there is far more hot air out there than there are people who really know what they are doing. Unless you can see the quality of all these "experts'" prints, I would be very sceptable about how much they really know.
Your printer is capable of making the finest prints you will see anywhere.....PERIOD!!! You are simply going through the process of learning how to run it, something most of us have gone through except those who send their prints out to get done. If you had come to the Boston Zo and come down to my home for the Printing Workshop last Friday, you would have learned all you really need to know about color management and printing.
You do NOT need thousands of dollars of calibration equipment to get your system running. I have owned the Gretag Macbeth Eye-One Photo system for a few years now, which runs about $1300. It will calibrate any kind of monitor and make printing profiles for any printer/paper combination. See: http://tinyurl.com/ake9s
They also make a Display model: http://tinyurl.com/9d43p That runs about $250. It uses the SAME SOFTWARE as the one I have, but will ONLY calibrate monitors. This is the best monitor calibrator for the money and very much in line price wise with some of the other units, like Spyder2. The nice thing about the Eye-One is that if you later want to upgrade, they give you a discount for your better system.
Once you have your monitor calibrated, you have won half the battle. I'll repeat myself: If you don't have a properly calibrated monitor you are going to go through all sorts of headaches getting a decent print. You can get on line most ICC profiles for free or for little money. They generally work pretty well.
Color Management is really easy once you learn the basics. It's just a matter of setting up Photoshop Color Settings the right way and having a ICC profile to use for Soft Proofing and you are there.
Read my tutorial: http://www.photozo.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6148
That should help you some. If you don't believe me, ask Tracy and SFaust. Tracy sat at my computer this past week for hours and hours, chugging out prints and there was only one print we had to redo, simply because I wasn't quite happy with it.
I've also done a small Excel spread sheet on printing costs with my printer for various papers. A basic average is that a print on Enhanced Matte paper runs about 91¢/square foot for paper and ink. My inks are running $.0.4057 / ml. I believe that the R2400 inks are 7 ml/cartridge, so figure out your costs. Enhanced Matte paper is costing me $0.451 / square foot in 24" x 100 ft rolls. or slightly less in the 17 inch rolls. I don't know if the R2400 does this, but the wide printers will print out a data sheet each time you do a Print Head Check. It will tell you how many cm of paper have gone throught the printer and how much ink has been used since the last time you checked. That way you can easily determine your costs.
I have my color printing down to a science now and am getting there on my B&W printing. A week ago I helped a friend at a boarding school that has a wonderful photo department calibrate all their monitors and printers. The first prints we got for tests were right on the money.
I see that Tracy has put a comment about MPix. My feeling is that they do a fairly good job with proper color fidelity, but you are getting a production print that is good, but not great. You get your money's worth from them, so will give them credit for that.
11-02-2005, 04:48 PM
Landis thanks for the info. I think I will PM you regarding this subject. I am sorry that I missed the boston meeting. See my comments on that thread. As you have shared on this tread - To make good prints one would need a good printer and the device you reccomend with is appx 1300 usd. So in total the cost to make prints is not just the price of the printer at 900 usd it is closer to 2,000 dollars. this is the point i was trying to share. There is much more to consider then just the cost of the printer and supplies. :-D
11-02-2005, 05:30 PM
What you can do is just get the Monitor Calibrator ($250) and printer and use the free profiles for very good results. The key is to get it all working together.
Better to email me.
11-02-2005, 05:31 PM
I'm a hobbyist, but print quite a few photos on my Canon i900D printer and am pleased with the results.
Sometimes though, it's just a time question, because there is quite an investment in time....your time.....in the printing process. Often, for me anyway, it comes down to whether I want to spend the time in printing, or send them off and do something else with my time.
My prints are for me only, and not commercial, which I'm sure makes a difference.
11-02-2005, 09:50 PM
Wow! I really appreciate everyone's input on this thread! So many great opinions and suggestions, especially for someone just starting out. I do think that the wisest thing for me, at least right now since I'm only able to do this part time, is to send the prints out. I still have a 40+ hour a week job to do working midnights, but whatever time I can spare (or at least, whatever time comes after my family time) will be spent on photo shoots, hopefully, eventually, getting me out of dispatching. So, I think my time would be better spent with family or on a photography session rather than printing.
12-09-2005, 07:41 AM
Does anyone happen to know if certain commerical printing companies have wider gamut printing capability? I hear a lot of talk about Color spaces and have determined that the standard SRGB that most printers use is not the best color space. I know that Adorama has a Color profile available and MPIX uses SRGB by default but has some type of other system for which I don't think you can get a profile for.
12-09-2005, 08:50 AM
Brian, you don't have any photos in your gallery for us to see what you are trying to do, so I took the time and looked at your two websites by your signature. I must say you do like super saturated colors. To what standard do you have your monitor calibrated?
Also, are these photos you want printed for customers or for yourself? Do you want them to appear as saturated as they are on websites?
From what I've found and seen for myself, as long as you have a calibrated monitor and stick to the on line printers recommendations, they will do a pretty good job. EasyEd just talked to me yesterday when he received his book he had printed at Apple from iPhoto and said they did a bang up job on it. I've seen books by Shutterfly that were excellent and I have seen junk from them. It all depends on the quallity of the photos you upload as to what you get back.
12-09-2005, 08:59 AM
I am just getting now to the point where I am soliciting my services as a professional. I just moved up to the Eos350d with a 580ex speedlite earlier this week. Personally I like saturated, vivid images for certain things. My main concern is finding a printer that can capture the images true to form. If I use a large color space I would like to not have to truncate it for printing purposes. Literally I just calibrated my monitor with the Spyder for the first time yesterday, prior to that I was using the adobe gamma. I will certainly try out the printers you have mentioned.
I am a relative newbie in this area so I am asking this question since you have much experience. I like vivid colors but I am a little uncertain as to whether or not they are overpowering. I am concerned because I am not certain about whether or not my monitor can display all colors that are appearing in an adobe RGB color space. Do you think with a Decent grade flat CRT which has been recently calibrated in a lighting controlled environment I will be ok?
P.S. very nice B+W work on your website.
12-09-2005, 09:48 AM
Well, I'm going to revert to my very old answer: TRY IT
Send some of your images to different printers and have them do some small inexpensive prints and see how you like them. That's really the ONLY way you are going to find out if they print to YOUR satisfaction, isn't it? You can get a hundred different opinions from the members here, but they don't know what YOU like.
This experience will cost you a few bucks, but it's really the ONLY way you are going to find the answer.
I have another suggestion to try. Contact JDOG here on the Zo. I taught her how to print and she is doing a super job. She has a brand new Epson 4800 printer and would probably print for you. I'm heading to Panama next week otherwise I would print for you. I charge double Mpix prices and that's a steal for what I do. I don't know what Tracy would charge, but ask her. (She may kill me for saying this, but I'm going out on limb here).
I use Adobe RGB color space for all my images and have absoluely no problem at all getting very saturated colors. I print on an Epson Pro 7600. Tracy has the newer and smaller version of my printer that has the 3 blacks.
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