Photo Printer: Home Printer, or WalMart?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by frank, Dec 11, 2004.

  1. frank

    frank Guest


    I own a Sony F828 and, until recently, I've never needed to print photos.
    In my world, PCs are ubiquitous, so prints are irrelevant. However, after
    taking a few pictures at a Birthday get-together the other night, I
    realized that some of the folks there didn't even own a PC. One fellow
    suggested that I print the images out at WalMart, and I gave that a go. I
    was very impressed with the results: 24 cents each for 4"x6" prints, and
    the quality seemed good, especially considering the size of the original (I
    thought there might be some sort of visual residue when reducing the
    high-resolution F828 images to a mere 4x6, but I noticed no obvious

    I like new toys so, of course, I am now considering buying a photo-only
    printer for home use. However, I am in the process of building a house,
    which will curtail my toy-budget for many years to come, so I can't just
    run out and get one without considering the alternatives. That's where you
    folks come in... :)

    Can a $150-200 home printer compare in quality and price-per-print to the
    commercial units avaliable at WalMart and other stores? WalMart had two
    printers: the one I used has a name I can't recall, and the other is a
    Kodak unit that prints immediately, but costs a bit more (29 cents per

    I own a nice b/w laserjet for document printing. I have no need of a color
    inkjet for color doc printing.

    frank, Dec 11, 2004
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  2. frank

    Jon Pike Guest

    As for "quality comparison" that's entirely up to you. Some people can see
    the differences in quality, others can't.
    Price-per-print though, not likely. Ink gets expensive, fast.
    Paper's not exactly free either.
    I can buy from staples, a 4x6 100 pack of glossy paper for 29.86.
    That's making it more expensive, just for the paper, even after conversion
    rates (cad>usd).
    Jon Pike, Dec 11, 2004
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  3. frank

    John Germany Guest

    Sam's Club has prints for .18.
    I have found that to produce great prints on my HP prints, I'm spending
    around .45-.50 per print. It gets expensive to print at home!
    John Germany, Dec 11, 2004
  4. frank

    Dr. Di Guest

    I think you'll find a substantial difference in print longevity in addition
    to a higher cost. Ink jet generated Photos tend to fade over time when
    exposed to bright light, and many bleed or smear when exposed to high

    No one can deny the versatility of occasionally printing photo's at home
    on demand, but in general I'm sure you'll find the commercial processes
    less expensive and of higher quality.

    In my humble opinion, of course..

    Dr. Di, Dec 11, 2004
  5. frank

    KC Guest

    Let's clarify something here.

    Home printing is NOT making a true photograph. usually dye sublimation, jet
    or laser.

    Kodak machines that print on the spot are NOT a true photograph. They are
    dye sublimation.

    WalMart, Costco and Sam's club may be cheaper but will not usually make any
    density and/or colour corrections, so whilst they may be cheap they are not
    the best. I have seen a Sam's Club "photo" and it looks to me like dye

    In Canada Black's offer a good service, they will colour/density correct as
    a normal part of their job, and to members the price is 35c a print. It is
    printed on a Fuji Frontier, the same as the negatives are printed on.

    They will also redo anything you are not happy with for free. Try that at
    Wal-Mart and see how far you get!

    Whichever place you decide to get your prints done at, it will still be
    cheaper, better quality and less hassle than home printing. Also home
    printing and dye sub will start to fade after 5-10 years. Fuji processing is
    75 years archival.

    The rest is your decision!

    KC, Dec 11, 2004
  6. frank

    Carl Guest

    I have to assume that the last time you bought and/or used an inkjet
    printer was some considerable time ago? Incidentally photographic prints
    also fade when exposed to bright light.

    Equivalent quality commercial processing of digital images costs
    considerably more than doing it properly yourself assuming that you're
    in it for the long haul and not just intending to print half a dozen
    images and leave it at that.
    Carl, Dec 11, 2004
  7. frank

    Carl Guest

    So what is a *true* photograph?
    There are laws, even in Canada and the US regarding the sale of goods.
    So show us some price and quality comparisons and explain how home
    printing is a hassle. It's odd but my paper and ink combination claim 80
    years archival, so where does 5-10 years come into it?

    Try explaining the different process properly to the OP instead of
    trying to impress with a sprinkling of jargon terms.
    To be able to make a decision one needs to be informed. There's nothing
    in your post that enables that process, except for the predisposition
    towards evangelising for a Canadian processing house. (You don't own it
    by any chance?)
    Carl, Dec 11, 2004
  8. frank

    John Guest

    I have a relatively new (7660) HP printer. $75 for a print cartridge that
    prints less than a 100 4x6 is absolutely criminal! Corporate profits
    continue to drive up the price of cartridges.
    I find the quality of the Kodak picture maker to be excellent and only .25
    at Eckerds.
    Wolf Camera does an excellent job for only .28 each.
    John, Dec 11, 2004
  9. frank

    dooey Guest

    I assume the Kodak unit to which you refer is the same as those known in the
    UK as "Picture makers". They are not usually as good as the quality of print
    available from within most one hour labs. one reaason is that the paper is
    particularly thin.

    The price per print is significantly cheaper when taken to a lab compared
    with home printing if you intend to print a number of smallish photos. If
    you intend printing larger than 6x9 the cost gap closes, as the labs tend to
    charge a disproportionately high price for larger prints.

    If you are the type of person who will reprint an image several times until
    perfect there is an advantage to printing at home in the same way that home
    darkroom printing continues to be popular today because of the total control
    available. However, Labs are the answer if you are prepared to loose that
    final bit of control and the time and cost taken to visit.
    dooey, Dec 11, 2004
  10. frank

    bmoag Guest

    If price and not quality is your main concern do not buy a photo printer.
    If you are willing to learn how to manipulate and print photos there is no
    comparison between what you can achieve with a decent printer (there are
    many in the sub $200 range) on your own and what you will get from a mass
    This is not a debatable point unless you think a cubic zirconium and a
    diamond are equivalent because they are both shiny.
    There is a learning curve to ink jet color printing. It takes actual
    intellectual effort. You have to want to learn something. You have to be
    willing to experiment. You actually have to read instructions, not just look
    at the pictures in the quick set up guide.
    Most people who give up their own printing after experiencing failure are in
    part victims of the printer manufacturer's advertising campaigns: it is not
    pushbutton automatic to achieve high quality color prints. However, even if
    you do not want to go the whole-hog color management route most modern
    printer drivers on their own can achieve excellent results: but you have to
    learn how to use them.
    bmoag, Dec 11, 2004
  11. frank

    Dr. Di Guest

    With respect for your opinion, I have to disagree. Ink jet printing is of
    the dot matrix variety and lacks the resolution potential of dye transfer
    or the chemical processes. The newspaper comics are generated with a crude
    form of dot matrix printing, and you can clearly see the dots that compose
    the image. Home printing, on a dot matrix ink jet, is simply an improved
    Sunday comics process.

    Many different processes can produce color Photographic prints. Which one
    you choose is largely dependent on your propensity to accept the
    compromise between cost, quality, and permanence.

    But in all cases, unreasoned intransigence should be left to realm of the
    politician, not in the pursuit of technical knowledge.

    Dr. Di, Dec 11, 2004
  12. frank

    RicSeyler Guest

    At least true Dye Sub machines give you continuous tone images
    and not a stochastic dot structure like inkjet. But continuous tone dye
    sub machines are very costly to run, the receiver paper and the dye
    ribbons are very expensive.
    RicSeyler, Dec 11, 2004
  13. frank

    Rob Novak Guest

    A 100-ct pack of Epson Premium Glossy 4x6 stock costs me $15 US on

    With a couple cents per print ink cost, it comes out to slightly
    cheaper than having someone else print them, and I don't have to go
    trucking off to (yick) Wal*Mart.
    Rob Novak, Dec 11, 2004
  14. frank

    Carl Guest

    This is an extremely simplistic definition that contains many
    inaccuracies and is therefore misleading. To begin with a dot matrix
    system uses a different form of grid. Newspaper comics (and newspaper &
    magazine images) use half-tone systems that create varying diameter dots
    of ink to create an illusion of an image. High quality magazines and art
    books use an overprinting system to improve the quality. Inkjet printers
    use heated droplets of equal sizes which are sprayed onto the surface of
    the paper. As a result the gaps (which is microscopic) between the
    droplets is filled). Even my totally simplistic explanation is
    misleading in itself and really should be backed up with citation, but
    this is Usenet, and this one of the old worn out circular arguments
    (like which is better, film or digital?) that spirals around this group
    so regularly that it probably isn't worth the effort any more
    Would you like to define what a colour photographic print is?
    I detect no perceivable difference between either of you except that you
    take the trouble to be polite and appear to be reasonable whilst
    displaying a similar unreasoned intransigence.
    Carl, Dec 11, 2004
  15. frank

    me Guest

    You do rember photographic paper don't you?
    Are you talking about a guarantee that's worth one package of paper or ink
    cartridge? That claim won't be substantiated for at least 60 or 70 years.
    I'd call you gulliable if you believe that. But by all means do commit all
    your work to inkjet with my blessing.
    Like the information you get from marketing hype. OK
    Film, Ahhhh!
    me, Dec 11, 2004
  16. frank

    KC Guest

    ..............So what is a *true* photograph?

    A true photograph has to go through chemical procedures unable to be
    reproduced in a home situation. I'm sure we're all aware of the home black
    and white developer having a dark room - well almost the same for colour but
    has to be done in complete darkness (no red light) and the chemicals are
    different, hence it's almost impossible to reproduce at home.

    ......................So show us some price and quality comparisons and
    explain how home
    printing is a hassle. It's odd but my paper and ink combination claim 80
    years archival, so where does 5-10 years come into it?

    Fuji lab processing using Fuji photo paper is 75 years archival.
    Kodak lab processing using Kodak photo paper is 70 years archival.
    After 5-10 years home printed pictures will start to fade. Most people are
    aware of this. Canon has a coating on it's photos to help slow this process
    down. They also suggest you frames your photos because contact with the air
    is what causes them to fade. We've even seen real photos that do this over
    time. But the photographic process was not the same 100 years ago. Hopefully
    today it is better.
    As for price and quality comparisons I've already gone into that, I don't
    feel the need for repetition.

    ................There are laws, even in Canada and the US regarding the sale
    of goods.

    Of course there are. I didn't see where that was relevant.
    you get what you pay for.

    ........................To be able to make a decision one needs to be
    informed. There's nothing
    in your post that enables that process, except for the predisposition
    towards evangelising for a Canadian processing house. (You don't own it
    by any chance?)

    Black's is owned by Fuji. I do not own Fuji.

    .........................Try explaining the different process properly to the
    OP instead of
    trying to impress with a sprinkling of jargon terms.

    See above, sorry if dye sublimation is too hard to understand - translate as
    "not as good"

    As a Canadian I live in a free country and have the right to free speech. I
    am exercising that right and hope OP (other people)
    (or those who dislike jargon) are understanding of someone else's viewpoint.

    Make up your own opinion but not printing at home works out cheaper both in
    price and time. Quality is another issue. Then again there are always those
    who think they know best.
    KC, Dec 11, 2004
  17. frank

    Carl Guest

    Not terribly helpful, but no less than I would expect. See I ask a
    question and you don't know the answer so you spew some verbal diahorrea
    in order to avoid admitting you don't have the slightest idea. Actually
    I do remember photographic paper - Ilford Multigrade paper,
    Cibachrome (you do know what that is don't you) - still use paper in my
    darkroom, I just take mostly transparencies these days when I'm not
    shooting digital, and, oh God, the heresy - scan them. Something even
    Norman Koren does - of course you don't think he's as good a
    photographer as you, do you?

    You might also ask yourself about the marketing hype you believe
    regarding your particular brand of Photographic paper - not only have
    none of THEM been around long enough to actually prove the archival
    lifespan - they may never be, but ask yourself are your pictures worth
    keeping that long anyway?
    Now where in the above sentence did I say or even infer that. No, don't
    answer that, it's obvious - in your febrile little imagination that's where.

    No where do you offer anything constructive, I notice. What a shame
    another opportunity you let slip through your fingers.
    Didn't your tutor not tell you to stop playing with yourself in the
    school darkroom? You keep ruining the fixing bath and the other students
    are beginning to complain.
    Carl, Dec 11, 2004
  18. frank

    Carl Guest

    Actually many of us have been processing and printing colour photographs
    in home darkrooms for decades, but I take your point that it is out of
    the reach of the majority of photographers. I'm not sure that I agree
    that is actually a true definition of a photograph, but it is valid.
    Fair comment
    Sorry, I think you misunderstood me, but mea culpa, I probably wasn't
    very clear, putting myself in the shoes of someone asking the original
    question. The different inkjet and photo printing technologies are
    relatively complex concepts and you can't always assume the other person
    knows what you're talking about even if it seems obvious.
    Please, I don't think I was denying you the right to free speech, not
    even on re-reading. I was asking you to back up your claims (my right
    too), which you are doing.
    I don't know best, that's why I'm asking the questions. When you make a
    claim then expect to be asked to substantiate it, but don't knock the
    Carl, Dec 11, 2004
  19. frank

    me Guest

    Don't waste your time KC he's only baiting you.
    Film, Ahhhh!
    me, Dec 12, 2004
  20. frank

    me Guest

    You didn't answer that. Answer the question. If you can.
    Film, Ahhhh!
    me, Dec 12, 2004
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