BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Joseph Payne

photo printers

Hi everyone, I own a HP Photosmart8150 printer, it does a great job but I go through a lot of ink. I was wondering if there is a better way to go?

I print about 100 photo's a week mostly 4x6, maybe 10 8.5x11's

Thanks Joe

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10/5/2005 5:14:15 PM

Bob Fately   Joe, there is no easy answer here - inkjet manufacturers count on users consuming a lot of ink - that's where their profits lie (that's why the printers are so relatively cheap).

You can calculate the cost per print of what you're doing now - figure it out starting with full cartridges and see if you're spending $.20 or $.75 per print for the 4x6's. If it's closer to the latter, than perhaps getting one of the dye-sub 4x6 printers would make sense - HiTek or Canon seem to be pretty good. Or, of course, you could go to the local Costco or WalMart of whatever to get prints made for $.19 each - of course, you give up some control taking that route.

You could go for a larger dye-sub printer, like the Kodak 1400. I costs about $500 and the consumables (you must use the specific paper/ink ribbon packs from Kodak) run about $1.90 per 8x12. So if you gang up 4 4x6's you figure a cost of about 50 cents per print.

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10/6/2005 10:18:58 AM

Michelle Ochoa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/4/2005
  I use both the HiTouch 640ps dye-sub printer (4x6) and the Kodak 1400 (8x10). They're both great, and when you run out of paper, you run out of ink at the same time. No guess work. After you figure you only get about 100 pictures from ink on an ink jet, plus your paper, you'll spend less. And the photos are a better quality. Ink from inkjets are not made to last forever - they will fade over time. But dye-sub printers will last. And with the Kodak, you can choose glossy or matte paper for the desired look.

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10/6/2005 2:03:32 PM

Terri Hooper
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/30/2005
  So you think dye ink is better? I thought the opposite was true? What about quality of prints verses lasting over time? thanks

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10/6/2005 3:41:00 PM

Michelle Ochoa
BetterPhoto Member Since: 10/4/2005
  I always thought dye-sub was better. I haven't done any research personally, but I think the look is great! I've put them side by side, and the Hi-Touch is definitely better than ink-jet. You can only do glossy with the Hi-Touch, but it puts a clear coating over the pictures, which helps prevent finger prints. I've had many compliments on the quality of the prints I put out. Ink jets use dots to make up your image, dye-sub doesn't, so overall you get a more naturally looking picture.

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10/6/2005 4:04:54 PM

Bob Fately   I use the 1400 as well (and used to use the 8650PS, Kodak's older model). Dye sub prints truly look more like traditionally made "wet" prints. As for longevity, under normal viewing conditions the Kodaks are rated to last for something like 20 years. While Epson et al claim longer time frames for their prints, those ratings are only true if you use the specific ink and paper combinations - other combos can be quite bad.

The upside of dye sub is that there are no inkjet heads to clog or dry out - I got my 8650 used and it was untouched for at least 4 years - there was paper and ink in it and the very first print came out great.

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10/6/2005 8:46:33 PM

Brendan Knell
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/17/2005
  When you run out of ink are you going out and just buying another cartrige for about 50$? If you are you can just get them refilled for about 15$. But if you go this route, then make sure that you get them refilled before they run completly dry, or it probably wont work.

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10/7/2005 3:35:20 PM

John G. Clifford Jr
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/18/2005
  Your HP is a good printer but it wasn't designed for high quantity use but instead for the home/hobbyist market where users maybe print out a dozen prints a week at most.

If you are really printing 100 4x6s a week, then you would save money by using one of the online 12-cent 4x6 photo printing companies. I know that Costco and Wal-Mart also will print 4x6s for about this much if you upload them to their websites.

The only way to compete on these prices would be to get one of the Epson printers and then buy a CIS (continuous ink system) for it so you can buy ink in bulk containers instead of by the cartridge. Such a system can cut your ink costs by 90%.

I figure that, on my Epson R300, I use around 1/4 ml per 5x7 print, I can get about 250 of these per cartridge set. That makes my ink cost per print to be around 28 cents, so a 4x6 will be about 2/3rds of this or 18 cents... just for the ink. Add another 25 cents for the paper and you're looking at 43 cents a print.

Printing 5x7s at 60 or so cents a print is a good deal when you figure that it will cost a dollar per print at the photo printers. Printing 4x6s at 43 cents is a bad deal when you figure you can get it done for 12 cents at the photo printers.

Therefore, for your volume, unless you have a compelling reason (like, you cover events where people want pictures instantly so you print on-site), you will save a lot of money by letting Costco or Wal-Mart handle the 4x6s and you do the 8x10s at home.

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10/8/2005 2:21:36 AM

Terry  R. Hatfield
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/4/2003
  If I Were Printing 100 4x6 Images A Week I Would Have Them Printed,I Assume Your Selling These Images?
Its Just Like Any Other Buisness The Customer Absorbs The Cost Of Having This Done,Have It Done At A Reputable Place. Inkjets Arent Really Designed For This Type Workflow Because Of The Costs.Refilling Ink Catridges Doesnt Really Work Well, The Inks Are Inferior Causing The Prints To Degrade Quickly And Its Pretty Messy To Say The Least Joseph...

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10/8/2005 5:13:55 AM

Jim Zimmerman   Bottom line is, you cannot print as cheap at home with ANY inkjet printer as you can get them done for at a lab. Period. End of discussion.

That said, you can print them BETTER at home, and you have control over the print life too. Many of the cheap print labs are going to go with whatever raw materials are cheapest, not what are most archival, to get that low price.

You can try to save with cheaper papers and refill inks, but personally I have never found a less expensive paper that looked as good to me, or more importantly, lasted as long (per truly independent testing) as I get with the manufacturers products of my particular printer. See the Wilhelm Imaging web site for more on print life with second party papers and inks.

So what is your priority? If you want the best possible print with a known life expectency, do it yourself and pay the price (and if selling these prints, price them accordingly). If low price is the priority, send them out.


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10/9/2005 1:57:52 PM

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