Luminous Landscape Forum

Raw & Post Processing, Printing => Printing: Printers, Papers and Inks => Topic started by: theophilus on June 16, 2006, 05:07:09 PM

Title: Need help deciding print solution
Post by: theophilus on June 16, 2006, 05:07:09 PM
Reading Mike Johnston's blog (Online Photographer ( got me to thinking about how I am archiving my photos, and that I have very few prints.  I'm convinced that my family and I would love nice sets of archival quality prints to have at the house.  I have been married for 5 years and have 3 kids, so there are a lot of photos, 1 year of film and 4 that have been digital.  My guess of around 1500 photos needed to print is probably correct, though possibly a little low.  I expect to make copies of many for family as Christmas/birthday gifts going forward.

My wife is constantly requesting that I make prints, but all I have is a Canon i960 that I hate messing with.  The colors are just never correct.  (I have a color-calibrated LCD using the Gretag Macbeth system.)

So I'm thinking of a couple alternatives:

1) Farm it all out to a print shop, probably EZprints through my SmugMug Pro account.  I can specify easily that they not do any color correction themselves.  Put in a normal photo album.

2) Buy an Epson 2400.  Make most of the prints at 4x6 and 5x7, stick them in a standard photo album and get on with life.

3) Buy a 4800 (or possibly the new Canon), and use all 11x14 or larger paper with various sized prints on each page.  I would then have it all bound into a pseudo-book.  I think this would be more fun and more aesthetically pleasing long-term, but a pretty big time commitment and a lot of money up front.

I'm pretty good with Photoshop CS2 and Camera Raw, and most of the processing is already complete.  I really like the idea of making the prints myself, but I'm a little intimidated by the amount of time it will take to go back through 4 years worth of photos.

It feels like the ink cost for that amount of prints makes buying a 2400 a bad decision.  It also feels like a waste to farm out that number of prints over the next 2-3 months, as that money could have gone to a new printer.

My wife isn't too jazzed about me getting a printer, because in her mind I haven't used the i960 very much that I already have.  I'm trying to figure out the best decision financially, anyone have any opinions?  I don't know how to take into account the learning curve required to start gettting prints that I'm happy with.  If I decide to go with a printer, do you recommend that I get something like Uwe's printing guide on
Title: Need help deciding print solution
Post by: Richard Marcellus on June 16, 2006, 07:10:46 PM
For family stuff I use a Epson PictureMate 4.6 printer and I love it. The prints look great and it is very easy to use. I take my final .tif images and batch them through PSCS2 to flatten them, reduce the size to 4x6" @360 dpi, and apply output sharpening (PhotoKit Sharpener). I print from PS using printer colour management.

The cost per sheet is decent: $29 US or $39 Can list price for 100 glossy 4x6 sheets and enough ink for about 120 shots. The prints are archival and water/smug proof. I really like the convenience of being about to run off a bunch of prints whenever I want. The printer itself is pretty cheap if you get the basic model without the LCD screen. I have made around 1200 prints since I got the printer a year or so ago, and the printer hasn't had any problems. Head clogs are rare when I use it regularily, which is most of the time. I find if I let it sit for a couple of weeks without using it, I will have to run the head cleaning routine though.

I also have an Epson 2200, but I wouldn't want to use it for high volume 4x6 prints. The PictureMate does much better glossy printing, as the inks are glossy inks. The PictureMate doesn't have light cyan, light magenta and light black, but it does add in Red and Blue so gamut/saturation is pretty good.


Title: Need help deciding print solution
Post by: Jonathan Ratzlaff on June 18, 2006, 12:59:47 AM
If you are making 4x6 or 7x7 prints, it doesn't reallly pay to do them yourself.  You can't compete with on line printing.  You mentioned smugmug.  Given that if you print them yourself they will cost at least twice as much as that, why not take the money you save and put it toward a better printer for printing those enlargements?

I have an epson 2200 but the only time I use it for small prints is when I am making a limited number of prints for cards and I am in a hurry.  Otherwise all prints are sent out to a lab.
Title: Need help deciding print solution
Post by: mr.dude on June 18, 2006, 11:58:46 AM
i'm extremely new to the printing world so some of what i say might be off (someone please correct me if i'm wrong), but here it is for what it's worth:

i did some calculation of costs and found that small print sizes such as 4x6 are cheaper if you get them done from a printing service.  

if you plan to print big and in large volume then a printer that uses large ink tanks and long rolls of paper (like an epson 4800) can easily pay for itself.  it actually costs a lot more per print when using a smaller capacity machine like a 2400.  it would be interesting to see how economical it is to run the new canon ipf5000
Title: Need help deciding print solution
Post by: DarkPenguin on June 18, 2006, 12:57:28 PM
I know dot photo has bulk printing packages.  I presume other printers have the same.  You just can't match those prices printing yourself.

(Plus I think insanity would set in long before you hit 1500 prints.  You'd hear a gas pump printing a sales receipt and you'd curl into the fetal position.  I've seen it before.  It's ugly.)
Title: Need help deciding print solution
Post by: framah on June 24, 2006, 02:56:06 PM
"My wife isn't too jazzed about me getting a printer, because in her mind I haven't used the i960 very much that I already have."

Here's how to solve that little problem... Go out to the garage and get a small hammer. Come back in and give an internal part, any part a really hard whack and then hide the hammer  and a couple of days later casually mention that the printer doesn't want to work anymore and you need to get a new one.  
See how easy that was??  

As to the photos.. you could even take a CD or two to the local big box store that has those kiosks and load a bunch at a time.