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Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 01:28 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I started printing at home about a month or so ago. I have somewhat of a grasp of color profiles and gamuts. So I was wondering why am i doing this printing at home stuff? Mainly its because I can, but is it really worth the time and effort doing it myself? Should i continue to send my images to Mpix/Millers or whom every?

I usually tell my customers (event photography only) that I will have there photographs back to them in 7 to 10 business days, I usually (since i print at home in about 2 days so that is definately a plus on the score card. The quality of the prints to me are as good as any i have sent out.

Wondering what some of you are doing and what were your deciding factors. Thanks
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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 02:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Not just time, but money. Do you have a handle on your true printing costs? How much does it cost you in paper and ink to make a print, or a set of prints vs. printing and shipping from Mpix? It can be difficult to determine exact ink costs, but I can virtually guarantee that unless you are using exotic paper, the ink on the paper will cost much more than the paper itself for each print. As an example, after a lot of time and empirical data, I have estimated that printing costs for my Epson R1800 break down to:

8x10: $0.80 paper + $2.00 ink
11x14: $1.40 paper + $4.00 ink
13x19: $2.50 paper + $5.50 ink

As far as time is concerned, ultimately you are the only person who can decide what is a useful way to spend your time. If you think making your own prints for your clients is worth it, no one can really tell you that you are wrong. Other people will decide it is better to just upload the files to some service and let other people deal with it while they go on to other things. Your choice. Is what you are doing really just an attempt to justify the printer you have? Are you only using it because it would be "a waste" not too?
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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 08:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you for your thought. Firstly, I do not have any problem purchasing high dollar items, in fact I have had many high end (pro-sumer) printers like the Epson 1270, 1280, 2200, Kodak 4800?

I now have a little ole Epson R220 which is fine for now only because I started using Mpix and Millers.

So the 98 dollar printer means nothing to me at all as far as its use. I will have to do a case study on my printer to see just how much a per print is. I know there are many varibles but hopefully i can get a ball park figure to compare to Mpix cost and shipping.

Thanks again for your input.
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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 10:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I can edit, download to Millers, and have my prints back in about 2 days. Those folks do excelent work and there customer service is outstanding.

http://www.millerslab.com/

Being in a rural area the web upload is a great feature and the time I would spend watching a printer I could be out shooting something.

Coast? worth every bit of it. I don't see how they do it.

Sorry I still don't trust printers to last as long as photo paper and I use ilford papers. great stuff in my hp printers but--

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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 04:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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In general, it is not efficient to do your own prints. The only time I make my own prints is when I'm printing my portfolio shots (and that's rare) or if I want to use a specific paper. But for straight ahead photo prints - outsource it. I use the same lab for all of my stuff and it took some work to get the tweaks down, but now I know how to send them stuff and have it come back looking great. The thing to remember about doing it yourself is that you have to count not only the ink and paper but also the wear and tear on your printer (which on the inexpensive consumer models is significant) as well as your labor dealing with the loading and trimming of the system. I personally don't have the time or inclination to babysit the printer, I'd much rather be doing research or talking to you all.

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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 05:21 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I've done the cost breakdown on several of the Canon Printers I own. In every case, the cost of ink, paper and wear and tear on the printer, not to mention my time, comes to a much higher cost that farming them out to a professional lab. To give you a real world example, I recently spent $25 for the color cartridge for my Canon i1600. I was able to get 9 8.5 x 11 prints before it ran out of ink. So that is over $2.00 a print. The paper cost $20, for 20 sheets, so the paper cost was $1.00 per print. So I had a net cost of over$3.00 per print. Unfortunately, 2 of the 9 prints were not usable because of a printer jam in one case, and a paper mis-feed in the 2nd (sometimes two sheets feed instead of one and part of the print is on one sheet and part on the other. I generally find that 10 to 15% of the prints have to be tossed for one reason or another. So that raises the cost even higher. On the other hand, I can just upload photos to any of several labs and get back high quality prints in a day or two with an average cost of $1.50 per 8x10.

Cheers,
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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 09-29-2007, 07:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yeah, but how much fun is that? Aren't you kind of out of the loop? It's like cooking - I'd rather do it all from scratch than drive through McDonalds...

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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 10-01-2007, 09:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks all those are some really good things i need to think about. I think I will print at home for small low end (finacially low end that is) jobs and for my high end clients and larger order I will use the lab.
Thanks again all, I just needed to get another view on things and you guys did just that.
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Re: Efficient or a waste of time?
Old 10-01-2007, 12:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Honestly with the cost of ink and paper, along with quality and archival properties (even though I use an Epson printer and only Epson inks) it's much better IMO to go with your local pro lab than to print at home, unless you do very large stuff, like 16x20 or larger, and have the printer for that, then the line of cost effectiveness gets really close. I got 26 8x10's back yesturday in about 2 hours (sometimes it takes up to 4 hours depending on their workload) so the time is a lot better than going via mail.

Isaiah
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