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Photography Question 
Carolyn Swadley

Use your own printer or not?

I am going to take the plunge and do a website. I have noticed from previous questions and answers that it sounds like instead of printing out photographs on one's own printer to sell, some of you outsource this. Is there a reason why one wouldn't use their own? I have a Canon Pixma Pro9000. Thanks for any input!

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10/30/2007 11:00:10 AM

Don LaVange   I use my printer, an Epson 3800, only for larger prints. I farm out anything smaller than 11 x 14.

Also be careful of the Canon IF it is a dye based printer. You don't want to get a reputation as a person whose prints fade quickly, Canon is now making some very nice pigment based printers but the larger format ones are much bigger in size than the Epson family.

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10/30/2007 11:06:48 AM

Donald R. Curry
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/2/2006

I do my own printing on an Epson 2400. The advantage I see is that I get instant results. If something isn't the way I like it I can make adjustments and reprint it if I want.

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10/30/2007 7:37:33 PM

The DISadvantages of doing your own printing are 1) the cost of ink, which may make your prices too high, and 2) the time consumption printing takes on a home printer, increasing the cost of your product a lot more still (and DEcreasing the profit margin commensurately).

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10/30/2007 7:43:49 PM

Carolyn Swadley   Thanks guys for all your input. At this point, if I sell something I will be so thrilled, I"ll print it for FREE! LOL

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10/30/2007 7:52:07 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  I've out-sourced all of my print requests in the past and priced them to absorb the lab fees but I'm thinking seriously about printing on my own.
Has anyone ever done a serious cost analysis to determine the actual cost of producing an 11 X 14 vs. farming it out?

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10/31/2007 6:05:15 PM

Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Hello Bob,

I did a cost analysis quite some time ago, but think my results would still hold up.

I do not print anything myself any more.
Perhaps my scenario is different since I sell my work...stock and portraits in quantity.

It all depends on how much printing one will be doing. In my case, the cost would be wayyyy too high and the time consumption would be intolerable.

For a few pieces here and there, prining your own work is probably no big deal...In my case, 100+ prints of various sizes would be cost & time prohibitive.

Just look at what a decent 8x10 would cost from a pro lab and then look at paper and ink prices for todays 6 and 8 cartridge printers. Forget about dye subs..most people can't afford them anyway.

Much of my work is shot against black or dark backgrounds..I'd be running to get black cartridges all the time! LOL

More specifically, my personal study concluded the following:

Outsourced: ONE 8x10= $2.20 when ordered in bulk...50 pieces..shipping included

Print my own: $3.70..same scenario

Yep..I actually calculated the milliters of ink/pico drop for my printer at the time.

Different printers will have different results of course..P/L deposition quantity of ink etc...

Also, any printer will begin to have problems after a few hundred prints...mis-alignments, nozzle inaccuricies etc..mechanical changes.

I can not say with certainty where the dividing line is when it comes to cost Vs qualtity; in my case it is a no brainer; I outsource everything.

Quality of the print is no longer a valid arguement. Today's pro labs will work with the photographer to design ANY color profile we wish to the results are bang on every time.

all the best,


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10/31/2007 6:44:06 PM

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