Photo Printing at home

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I've been using Photobox to get prints made and am happy with the results, but I'm quite intrigued by the whole home-printing phenomenon. I was in Tesco yesterday and couldn't believe the range of photo papers, inks etc. for home photo printers.

So I want some advice please. I have a Canon EOS 400D by the way with a couple of prime lenses, and I often take pics of the family which I'd like to print out and share with friends/family. I also like the idea of getting more control over the finished print.

What is the quality like on these cheap and cheerful photo printers? Anything like a lab? Can you print bigger than 6x4?
Any advice on this would be most appreciated.
 

Steep

Nutcrack Rapids
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Hugh
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Either the Canon or The Epson ranges will give you results as good as or better than PhotoBox. A half decent printer can be had for £50-100, my preference is for Epson the R285 being about £54
 
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The general rule of thumb with printers is the cheaper the printer, the dearer the ink. I've got one of these
a bit more money, but you can take it anywhere, the print quality is excellent and the ink is pretty cheap.
 
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Derek
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I have had various printers but always stick to Epson Photo printers as they have always suited me and my needs. I now have an all singing all faxing epson that does nice pictures but still hard to beat my R220 that has a seperate slide for printing onto paper covered CDs. It takes 6 chipped ink cartridges which i get at a local computer fair for about £9 a set and work perfect.
 
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Allan
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Problem is, once you have a photo printer that does nice A4 prints, you will wonder what an A3 print looks like.....etc....

Theres a lot of lab quality printers around, but the best reason I can think to print your own is that you have so many choices of how you want it to look, and, of course, you can do it when you like.

I`ve always had printers, mostly for documents, but I started printing photos on an HP C5180 ( cheap 3rd party inks available) and supplemented that with an Epson A3 printer. Epson used to be clunky and cloggy, not so with my R1400)
Quality on both is outstanding, and not as pricey per print as you would think.

Most popular printers now have CISS ( continuous ink systems) available which reduce the print cost considerably, and paper can be bought quite cheaply if you look around.

I would recommend everyone gets a photo printer, if you want something special, theres plenty of online specialist companies out on t`interweb
Allan
 
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John
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The general rule of thumb with printers is the cheaper the printer, the dearer the ink
An important point, its easy to pay more for a full set of inks than you paid for the printer.

Its certainly handy having printer at home, it's not a cheap option though.
 
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Graham
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Problem is, once you have a photo printer that does nice A4 prints, you will wonder what an A3 print looks like.....etc....
:LOL: I am in exactly that position! :)

I got an Epson R320 because of the six inks and also direct CD printing. Also got the Canon Selphy CP740 for running off quick prints for family etc and whilst out and about. I reckon the quality of home printers is fantastic but only once you get all your colour management sorted!

Planning to try out Loxley soon as they apparently do in-house colour correction for you included in the price and fortunately are also based in Glasgow so cuts out the delivery charges! :) The Epson R320 drinks the ink at quite a staggering rate :eek:
 
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Steven
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my better half got me on for Christams last year and i think the print quality is amazing for being a home printer. i have an Epson Stylus Photo RX585 i think it is, ink is alittle dearer but i only buy Genuine Epson stuff.

i've done a few prints and am really happy with them, looking at trying to get a couple of the BSB signed when i am away in a couple of weeks that are in mounts
 
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Robert Smith
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I have an Epson R360 printer and after experimenting with various makes of paper and inks find that my results are vastly improved when I use Epson branded stuff.
A little more expensive but I think it's worth it for the few pics I actually print.
 
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Roger
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:LOL: I am in exactly that position! :) Planning to try out Loxley soon as they apparently do in-house colour correction for you included in the price and fortunately are also based in Glasgow so cuts out the delivery charges! :) The Epson R320 drinks the ink at quite a staggering rate :eek:
where home printing is ok , i don`t think you can match a pro lab .
we used photobox for a while but have changed to loxley . not only are they a fair price . thay are very fast and very helpful , try giving photbox a call :banghead:. if there is anyone better than loxley for quality (which is the main thing ) and price ( which does count) let everyone know

i do use my epson for test printing sometimes .

rog (y)
 

Les McLean

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I've gone the other way, so to speak, after spending good money getting an A3+ canon printer, and spending inordinate amount of time sorting out profiles for different papers, colour management, print head cleaning, running numerous test prints, ensuring consistency of print, worrying about colour's fading overtime etc etc, I realised it wasn't so cost effective, either in time or money.

So now, if I need a print of anything, I'll get it done commercially, particular as they are done as traditional photoprints, I don't have that faint niggle about colours fading on the print I've just sold.


I just couldn't be bothered with all the hassle of it all
 
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Bob Sinclair
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I currently have an Epson Stylus C64 which is patently no good for prints but ok for office work. I see Epson are bringing out the SX100 which only uses the 4 standard inks and seems to be a snip at £60 as it will do documents and, in their words, lab-quality photos that are water, smudge and fade resistant. Any views anyone?
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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I use a Canon s820 for up to A4 and a Canon iX4000 for bigger. When I run out of ink for the s820 it might get retired or I might just swap some inks around and see what sort of mindfnurk it produces!

I stick with genuine Canon carts (tried an alternative once and regretted it - bad colour rendition and the few prints I did have all faded BADLY) in both but use Ilford Galerie papers as well as Canon's own. I also use some stuff I got from Lidl for "contact" sheets and things like that that don't need decent rendition.

Yes, genuine ink carts aren't cheap but the results I get are consistent and good. Costs are reduced to manageable levels by getting them from a well known Channel Islands supplier who deliver in a week or so. I tend to buy a few at a time so always have at least one full set "in stock" - I top up the order with other stuff I want/need so the percentage of the total cost that's taken up with P&P is reduced.
 
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Russell
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Bought our young star an epson dx4450 from pcw:puke:rld for £30(web price) although priced £40 in-store, so check on-line printer/inks/retailer/price match combo before parting with your hard earned to the b*ggers.
Btw Canon are doing a cash back promo on some of their printers.
 
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I'd also recommend the Epson R2... series of printers, excellent print quality. As mentioned though if cost is an issue then home printing isn't the best choice...ink + paper is expensive & whilst cheaper ink/paper gives reasonable results if you want ultimate quality you need to go with the best ink & paper, there's definitely a difference.

simon
 
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Bob Sinclair
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Thanks for your views. I think I'll take your advice simonkit and use commercial printing for the time being. BTW I love your pic of Beamaris Pier.
 
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Having worked in a photolab, I can say you will never get anywhere near the quality of lab prints from a home printer. Here's a couple of things you might not have known about prints made in a lab: (The Fuji ones anyway)

- The machines are calibrated daily, and the results sent to Fuji to process
- The paper is calibrated (each emulsion can be slightly different)
- Prints are totally waterproof (they go through water baths 3 times each)
- The machines have to be at a perfect temperature to make sure they are working perfectly
- They have red, green and blue lasers that have an insane resolution for DPI (its around 1800, apparently)

You don't really think about those things when you attach some pictures to a website and get a packet through a couple of days later.

The prints you make at home that claim lab quality only mean resolution. The colours and the paper quality do not even come close.

I don't work for them any more by the way, so this post wasn't for personal gain ;)
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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A major advantage of home printing over lab printing is that YOU are in control of the end product. If you want a slightly warmer print, you can have one in a minute or 2 rather than sending it off and waiting for the print to come back and hoping it's how you want it.


From the post above..

- The machines are calibrated daily, and the results sent to Fuji to process... Or at least they're SUPPOSED to be - doesn't always happen.
- The paper is calibrated (each emulsion can be slightly different)... See above point
- Prints are totally waterproof (they go through water baths 3 times each)... True
- The machines have to be at a perfect temperature to make sure they are working perfectly... True - and if the temperature's off a bit, the prints are less than good.
- They have red, green and blue lasers that have an insane resolution for DPI (its around 1800, apparently)... Canon's figures for the iX4000 - 4,800 horizontal, 1,200 vertical.
 

Andysnap

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Andy Grant
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I bought a Canon Pixma 510 which is also a photocopier and scanner for about £70 and its ok. However as my photography has improved (?) I'm becoming far pickier about quality and I can now see the benefits of having the best images printed professionally. I haven't as yet but I am going to my local photo lab soon to see what they can produce. I may also try an on-line shop to compare and I would be interested to know which would be considered the best.
Sorry didn't mean to hijack the thread but I go on a bit when I get started. :schtum:

Andy
 
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Well one thing is for sure you wouldn't consider printing at home on economic grounds. Even if you pick up a cheap printer the cost of paper and inks (inc. CISS) can't compete against the labs. But as any home printer will tell you that's not the reason for doing it - it's the control it gives you over the finished result and the variety of paper type you can use. You can also try different paper and ink combinations but most people stick to one ink supply when they've decided which is best for them.

Up until a couple of years ago I didn't really print any of my digital stuff. It just stayed on my PC or was posted on the net. Occasionally my holiday snaps would get printed from Photobox (great quality and prices) but that was about it. Then I joined a local camera club and started entering competitions which required prints around the 14x10 size (20x16 max inc mount to be precise). When I started to see the quality of prints other members were producing, especially monochrome, I knew that I needed to get a decent printer of my own.

For straight forward colour work on gloss I think the labs can compete but when you see the results of a stunning monochrome on various matt, pearl and lustre papers you will be gobsmacked. I also started attending exhibitions at regional level and RPS events where a better standard of photographer than me show their work and I've also spoken to some very good photgraphers who have presented their award winning work at our camera club. Guess what - they all do their own printing and the results are superb. Most of them use the Epson R2400 with the occasional HP B1980.

The downsides of printing at home are well known i.e. cost and initial set-up including profiling the ink and papers together to ensure you get consistent results out of your photoshop/printing workflow - but there's tons of help available with this from the ink, paper and printer manufacturers. It was also argued up until a couple of years ago that you could not produce good monochrome work on an inkjet but now with the latest inksets and archival paper this is no longer the case.

Although there are fans of both Canon and HP the current best sellers are the Epsons. Epson have just brought out the R2880 which means the very capable R2400 is dropping in price and bargains can be picked up if you look around. I've just bought an Epson 3800 which has larger ink cartridges than the 2400 and therefore more economical in the long run. It also takes bigger paper so I can do multiple prints on one sheet and cut them up. If you get a chance go to an Epson demo day and see the results for yourself and make up your mind.

If you want to print 6x4s of the holiday abroad or family snaps then the on-line labs are the way to go I reckon. If at some stage you want to print larger sizes at archival quality in both colour and b+w then it's worth investigating a home printer.

Ray
 

grumpybadger

Alan Rickman
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Paul Beastall
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I've recently bought a printer having been a devout fan of online labs for a number of years. I can't face another disappointing parcel from Photobox that filled with dark, dingy pictures. Yes, they will reprint them but they shouldn't have to! For bigger stuff, I will still use Peak Imaging but they can be quite slow so I've just bought an Epson R800 which will print up to 12x8 inches.

I have to say that I've been blown away by the print quality. Colour management done through Lightroom and not the printer driver, but using the correct profile means consistent prints all the way. I for one won't be using third party inks or paper, unless they can provide me with appropriate ICC profiles.
 
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Graham
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I agree with the aspect of control over what you print at home, but for what I would print out at the moment, a pro lab is the best financial and quality solution for me.
I use ProAm Imaging in Bradford and boy are they good. I have their machine profile on my pc, so if I need a print, it is allready profiled when I drop the files in for printing. Their standard size printing costs are great for example a 16"x12" / 18"x12" 40.6x30.5 / 45.7x30.5 (cm) print costs £1.25 each, that is for either 1 hour or 24 hour service if you can just drop them in.
 
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I for one won't be using third party inks or paper, unless they can provide me with appropriate ICC profiles.
Check out the Lyson and Fotospeed sites. Even if you don't try their inks they have some great papers and they will provide profiles too based on test prints from your printer.

I know people who use Pro-Am imaging too. Fantastic prices but it's always gloss (I think).

Ray
 
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