Digital printing come full circle back to best and easiest done by printing pros ?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Veronica, Aug 24, 2005.

  1. Veronica

    Veronica Guest

    Over the years it was the common norm to bring one's film to a
    developer / printer. Black and White was more do-able in the garage or
    basement, but color was challenging to the point of being practical
    and cost effective to just drop off and pick up.
    Then digital scanning came into technical workability at home. And few
    service bureaus or print locations had other than a high end esoteric
    Iris type printer. Thus the cottage industry of at home color printing
    on Epson printers etc.
    The 3rd party inks and papers industry flourished.
    Now it may be that the printing services have come full circle and are
    offering printing of digital files on a full gamut of printing devices
    and the cost per print has come way down. Even Costco lets you
    electronically send in your finished files and one only has to pick
    them up.
    Likewise with service bureaus. Only the pick up.
    The question / point is :
    Has the cost purchasing and the trouble of maintaining ones own inkjet
    printer, become actually less cost effective and more bother than
    using dedicated print services (who have now fully adapted to digital
    files) ?

    One can now do all the digital dark rooming that one needs to in
    Photoshop and present a finished file that should look quite as it
    would on one's screen or own printer output. In the older days of
    film, one was left at the mercy of the judgment dark rooming of the
    developer / printer.

    I have not done all the math, but particularly in major cities, where
    the printers keep stocks of various art papers - (and have such
    continuous use of their own printers that clogged nozzles is never a
    grave concern) -

    Might it be sensible to give up the hassles and lifespan of ink jet
    printers and return to the former model of having dedicated
    professionals do the printing and just run down and pick up the prints
    the next day or the same day ?

    My spouse and I co-wrote this and will present it to groups of
    We do welcome responses.
    Veronica, Aug 24, 2005
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  2. Veronica

    Ken Wright Guest

    I use an old Epson stylus 880 with JetTec compatible inks and Tetenal paper
    and love the results which are very cost effective yet good quality, BUT, I
    still can't come close to the cost and quality of taking my images to Asda
    and having them print them out for me.

    They use Fuji Crystal archive paper, and charge me only £5 for 50 6x4s, £7
    for 50 7x5s and 25p for 9x6s. Only when they go above that size is it
    really worth me printing my own as they then start at 10x8 for £2.28 each
    and get progressively dearer. That having been said, for longevity sake I'm
    still likely to be better off with Asda, even for pics this size.

    Where my printer now comes in, is for those prints that I want to do then
    and there, or for friends who have just popped round, or for instant pics
    for Mum and Dad or my kids.

    Because I have to actually travel to the store (a whole 10 min), I'll put
    off getting pics printed till i have enough to warrant a trip, or for odd
    ones now and the it's back to the printer, though I'll often replace them
    with store prints when time allows. I know I could use the online service,
    but unless really pressed I object to paying for postage, and that starts to
    knock the cost per print up as well.

    I think we've only really seen the start of it though, as the advent of
    digital imaging, combined with the increases quality/resolution on photos on
    camera phones is going to lead to an explosion in people printing things
    off. No longer are you stuck with paying £6/£7 to have 36 pics printed, and
    taking a gamble that at least one was actually worth printing. Now the
    lottery aspect is gone, and you generally know what you are getting before
    you have it printed. I think that makes a lot of people a lot happier about
    spending their money.

    Ken Wright, Aug 25, 2005
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  3. Veronica

    Dave Cohen Guest

    I gave my color printer to a church sale. I only miss it for greeting cards,
    but basically it was nothing but trouble whereas my laser b&w is a pleasure.
    I get quick prints from the kodak machine at the drugstore for 29c each,
    quality is good.
    For larger quantities and 8x10's, YorkPhoto seem to be as good as any, their
    summer prices were 10c per print, normally 12c. I carry the pics on flash
    drive to a friend who has Comcast, my dial up is too slow and.that is the
    major drawback to online printing unless of course you have broadband.
    In all fairness to color printers, having the laser I wasn't using it that
    often and suspect that may be a problem with them, plus I had a Lexmark, not
    the best choice.
    By the way, the laser printer gives a good utilitarian print, one of the
    beauties of having a digital camera is to take a quick print when working on
    projects, like a snap of your drum brake before you take it apart etc.
    Dave Cohen
    Dave Cohen, Aug 25, 2005
  4. Veronica

    Charles Guest

    For me, photography is recreational, sometimes a means to an end,
    sometimes just the end in itself. Printing is part of the recreation.

    I did color printing in a closet, wet side in the kitchen. that was
    recreational as well.
    Charles, Aug 25, 2005
  5. Veronica

    birdman Guest

    My experience with wet and digital darkrooms has been that if one is willing
    and able to invest the time, intellectual capital and money capital then the
    results one can obtain from printing your own images can only be matched by
    working closely with equally sophisticated custom printers.
    In the wet darkroom the time and $ savings are considerable by working with
    a custom printer but not so much in this wonderful digital age.
    WIth my color managed digital workflow and trusty Epson 1280 I can achieve
    results better than I have ever gotten from any but very expensive custom
    wet printers and, with what I consider little or no effort, far better
    prints than anything I have seen from any commercial digital printer.
    No matter how sophisticated you are in creating your digital masterpiece in
    Photoshop if you submit the image to a commercial printer, as opposed to a
    custom printer with whom you personally discuss technical parameters, the
    results you can expect will likely be flatly equalized to smithereens and
    boring. After 100 years of mediocre and bad photofinishing consumers do not
    know what good printing is and think these commercial prints are wonderful
    In truth the quality level of digital camera prints made by commercial
    finishers is generally better than the prior film paradigm.
    I did not say it is cheaper to print my own, because clearly it is not.
    However unless I have the need to crank out dozens of a particular image I
    could not imagine going back to the horrible old minilab days, which is how
    I view what I see coming out of commercial digital printers.
    birdman, Aug 25, 2005
  6. Veronica

    Veronica Guest

    Thanks for your responses. I, the spouse and I, have printed with some
    9 iterations of evolving Epson inkjet printers.
    I was coming to the conclusion that the capacities, at least in the
    color printing world, and with the very significant fact that digital
    files can be finalized in the designated color space (adobe RGB, SRGB,
    etc.). Then what should come out the other end of a color print, in a
    service bureau, should be so, so much more uniform and predictable
    than 5 years ago, even, in the digital inkjet world.
    Back in the days of color film printing, which I would not consider
    doing myself, one could or would have to bring the print back for a
    redo, but today the digital darkroom has given printers a pretty much
    ready to go "do it this way" file, that would seem to be just needed
    to be spit out by an Epson 9600 or Fuji Frontier or, which can't be
    done at home, a "C" print on long used and accepted traditional
    photographic paper.
    I am trying to see if firing up an Epson 2200, as yet unused and
    returnable, is really worth it any more, particularly since I live in
    a large city with pro printers all over the place competing for my
    I am not asking anyone else to decide my life for me, but your
    responses are, indeed, valuable.
    Please continue to any other responses.
    (my spouse and I are co creating the threads)
    Veronica, Aug 25, 2005
  7. Veronica

    Veronica Guest

    With full sincerity from my end, I am curious if the degree of
    duplication of what you want would be workable from a higher end
    service bureau, which are available in large cities. Then, presumably,
    the print would presumably, again, simply be printed from the digital
    file, rather than equalized to smithereens, (of which I am familiar in
    the film through machine printing days) and that would be that. In
    other words, with sufficient work in Photoshop, one could presumably
    get the file to a point where it was exactly the way one wanted it and
    then the printer would just print it without any further custom work
    of any kind. What is the element that I am missing in this assumption?
    I ONLY express this as a sincere communication, rather than to contest
    your points. I do value these insights. Please continue, if you will.
    Veronica, Aug 25, 2005
  8. Veronica

    SuperPop Guest

    Has anyone figured in the price of gasoline into the equation when looking
    at cost?
    Matt D
    SuperPop, Aug 25, 2005
  9. Veronica

    Charles Guest

    Something I think should be added to the consideration of "What's a
    good print?"

    Several years ago I made a couple prints for a colleague from 110 film
    onto 8X10 paper. I thought they were really bad., the people who
    wanted thought they were really great. One print that I gave them was
    a throw-away, where I was chasing color, it gave a woman in the
    picture the wrong color dress. the people who wanted the prints still
    thought they were great. One of the women in the picture had died,
    that was the only remaining photograph of her they had. I surmise
    that for anyone who posts here those prints would not have been at all
    acceptable. Other people's standards are different.

    And I never wanted to print from 110 again.
    Charles, Aug 25, 2005
  10. Veronica

    Veronica Guest

    That is part of the interesting and valuable element of now being able
    to FTP (file transfer protocol) or directly via the web, being able to
    send the files to the printer. Thus only 1 trip to pick them up. And
    if such a location is on the way home from work, as are a zillion such
    places here in Calif. , then that adds a new element of ease.
    A good point.
    Veronica, Aug 25, 2005
  11. Veronica

    frederick Guest

    The element that you are missing is that if you sent the same file to a
    dozen labs and requesting no adjustments, you are still going to get a
    dozen different looking prints back. This kind of defeats the purpose of
    your exercise - if your original question was based on a notion that you
    can do a better job of matching an image to the characteristics of a
    particular machine than an operator who knows what he is doing and does
    it 8 hours a day.
    Check samples of images from reviews of various on-line reviews if you
    doubt this. What these reviews usually fail to do is to send the same
    print back to the printer at another time, to get some idea of what the
    quality control is like on an ongoing basis. If you have a good lab
    that provides consistent results then at least that's a start.
    If you are confident in colour management, photo editing, and managing
    your workflow, then you should be able to do better and more
    consistently printing your own. I know the arguments against printing
    your own, but the same arguments applied even more strongly in the days
    before the affordable "digital darkroom" - yet many serious amateur and
    professional photographers included full wet processing in their tool kit.
    frederick, Aug 25, 2005
  12. Veronica

    Don Stauffer Guest

    I have two printers connected to my computer, a laser for cheap printing
    of text and a large format inkjet. My wife has two inkjets hooked to
    her computer, the newer one bought 'specially for printing DVD/CD labels
    directly on disks. I think you can assume by this that we like doing
    our own printing.

    Even if it were somewhat cheaper taking files to stores, we like the
    control we have with home printing. We decide the file format we give
    printer driver- we determine the resolution we want to send to driver.
    We can make color corrections immediately after a subsize "proof" print.
    We can use any paper we want. The list of advantages is long.

    Only problem so far is that I do not print with my large format printer
    often enough, and am having printhead clogging problems. Next time I
    will select a printer where printhead is part of ink reservoir, so I can
    cheaply replace the nozzles.
    Don Stauffer, Aug 25, 2005
  13. Veronica

    Marvin Guest


    It is, and will continue to be, an individual choice. It was an individual choice for
    film, though few wanted to do their own developing and printing when it required darkroom
    space and costly equipment. I would have done it myself then, but the space and cost were
    problems I couldn't solve.

    And there are many now who don't want to anything but taking or sending image files to a
    printing service. For me, digital "darkroom" operations add to my enjoyment and
    creativity, at a cost I can afford.

    Enjoy the luxury of deciding for yourself.
    Marvin, Aug 25, 2005
  14. Veronica

    Dave Cohen Guest

    I'm not completely happy with the analogy. With b&w, unless you were
    prepared to pay a premium, you wouldn't have any control over the output if
    you didn't to your own processing. Even more true with color film plus home
    processing is a more daunting task.
    With digital, that ability to do post processing has returned. One probably
    will have better control printing at home, but the control is there
    As for the comment about built in heads, they get you in the cost of the
    consumeables. For the Lexmark that was expensive, plus the cartridge would
    still clog if only used on an intermittent basis.
    I believe people have much better luck with canon, hp and epson.
    Dave Cohen
    Dave Cohen, Aug 26, 2005
  15. Veronica

    Veronica Guest

    This is, indeed, rather than a missing-ness, a searching-ness, on my
    end. What you have written is very well received. My Spouse wrote this
    to someone else, recently, and it has direct applicability and
    contributes to our interchange, here :

    Several friends of mine live and do their printing in relatively
    remote, rustic locations and would live nowhere else. One on the
    Oregon coast and another in rural Pennsylvania.
    Perhaps I am a bit of an unusual case. These are just two of the
    service bureaus that are close to me.

    In the earlier days of film, as recently as the 70's, 80's & 90's,
    there was no way to present even a remote semblance of the concept of
    pre digital darkroomed files, in the standardized color space, as is
    possible today. And that is excluding the vagaries of developing of
    the wet negatives, etc. It may be an over statement to say that color
    spaces are without wiggle room today, but in the film days one could
    almost assume that that I am

    I have re-visited the above two locations, acquired samples of the
    huge variety of canvas, linen, zillions of watercolor and fine art
    papers, transparency production, etc., they have, felt the vibes, and
    so on.
    I have been doing my own inkjet printing for so long that I had to
    reacquaint myself, almost. And yes, I could or anyone else could do
    this all on a one by one - walk my feet in the door basis and discern
    and decide. But the beauty of on line interactions among aficionados,
    as we have here, is the interchange of viewpoints, ideas, experiences,
    etc. that would otherwise not be possible.

    I learned film photography, many years ago, literally at the feet of
    the then top names in European photojournalism. I learned digital
    photography on-line at a much faster (relatively immediately) rate.
    The point is that this interchange is of value and cognizance to me.

    Perhaps a holdover, but I considered that the 2200 and the7600 and
    9600, etc. would be close enough, ink gamut and color wise, that my
    digitally "completed" image would be fairly universal. I am learning

    I had recently considered that the evolution to recent has provided
    for doing almost all of the prepping and darkroom work prior to the
    delivery of the file for printing. At the above sites, the impression
    is implied that one could do roughly that. I now see the broader view
    and appreciate the responses. Thank you.
    Veronica, Aug 27, 2005
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