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Input/Output/Workflow Scanning, printing, color management, and discussing best practices for control and repeatability

Do You Print or use a lab?

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Old 01-30-2002, 04:36 PM
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Sanda Sanda is offline
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Do You Print or use a lab?

Do you all print your own photos for your customers or do you send then to a lab for professional printing? I've been happy with the results from my printer to date but I'm starting to think that maybe I should get them printed by a lab which might or might not improve the quality and maybe work out cheaper than printing myself. What do you do?
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Old 01-31-2002, 09:12 AM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Since I only do prints for family, I do the printing on my inkjet. But if I had a business, I think I would opt for lab printing. Regardless of what the ink manufacturers claim for longevity, I would feel more confident if a professional lab made the prints.

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Old 01-31-2002, 11:10 AM
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thomasgeorge thomasgeorge is offline
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I do all my printing in house. I didnt notice any difference in the quality of prints done by outside sources and my own, but I also spent lots and lots of time becoming familiar with my printer and all its quirks, etc.. As probably 60% of my business is from repeat customers, I assume they find quality acceptable.. Tom
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Old 01-31-2002, 05:57 PM
CCdesktop CCdesktop is offline
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printing services

I have tried operating in the best of both worlds. Some people seem to be perfectly happy to have inkjet quality output for prints, especially if they are having several done at one time.

I have cultivated a relationship with a printing service not far from my home - where I know the service is reliable, fast, and not overpriced. I take 300 dpi TIF files to them and get 2-day service. I think the quality exceeds the injet - they look like photos taken yesterday. It all depends on the client and what they want to achieve. I'd rather just hand off a CD though, I don't like to spend the time on the full service.
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Old 02-11-2002, 02:59 PM
G Mantero G Mantero is offline
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I mix mine about 75-25 in favor of getting a lab to print. Nothing beats being able to hand clients an actual archival photograph. As Ed mentioned, I'm just not secure with giving someone an inkjet print when they're in need of a photograph.

However, I do make the inkjet prints available--some clients aren't all that concerned with longevity, so the cost savings sway them to the inkjet prints, which are VERY good (Epson 1280). Sometimes clients want large quantities of prints, in which case they sometimes order inkjets instead of lab prints.

If you go with a lab, find one and build a relationship with them. Tour their facility and meet their staff so they recognize your name and face. Ask questions about what kinds of files they love/hate. You'll get much better quality from a printer when you know exactly what their capabilities are.

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Old 02-11-2002, 04:59 PM
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Thanks everybody, I was going to invest in a new printer at a cost of around $2000. But I think for the moment I may try using lab prints but giving my customers the option of injet prints as a money saving opotion. Your thoughts on the matter have helped me greatly.
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Old 02-11-2002, 05:39 PM
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I have done both but the experience I've had matching colors to the outside printer caused me to buy a printer I could print my own on. Now I do exclusively inkjet but if I get a photo enlargement bigger than 11 x 14 I have to go to the printers and in that case I still get an inkjet print from them.
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Old 03-04-2002, 08:31 PM
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Personally I invested in an "Epson stylus Photo EX" Quite a few years ago. While I've seen some great prints made with that model it seems to be by people who have it hooked up to their macs. Everyone I know who's printing with the same model ( I know a few) and hooked to a pc gets poop for prints...myself included. To make a long story only slightly shorter, I don't need the agrivation in my life. I go to a lab that does an amazing job and I don't get the head-aches. The cost of the print is payed by the client anyway (and then some ). I have nothing but respect for the imagers out there who do their own, but I'm perfectly happy admiring them at a large distance and not partaking in what Seems to be masochism of the highest order.
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Old 03-04-2002, 11:17 PM
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I prefer to print myself. Anyone who has read Margulis's book, or been on his listserv will know how difficult it is for the lab to get the colors exactly right (regardless of how much effort you put into profiling). By making contact prints, I can tweak the printer driver to give me a good rendition of the colors before I print the final copy (or copies).

As has been said on another thread by Tom George, get the print behind glass ASAP, and you're assured of reasonable longevity (even with the output from older printers/papers).
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Old 07-22-2002, 10:53 PM
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Jakaleena Jakaleena is offline
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I just now found this thread, thanks to Ed's pointer in another discussion.

I'm one of those who takes dig files to a lab for actual photographs. Mainly, it's because I am a lab rat and I usually run the machines. Even in times when I haven't been doing the printing myself, I've still gone to a lab just because I personally prefer actual photographs to computer prints. It's just my own personal taste in things.

Maybe because I'm actually operating the printers, I've discovered that I get what I think is a better end result that way. I'm currently running a Fuji Frontier, but have also worked on several other types of digital RA4 printers. I have been a little surprised when reading newsgroups that people seem to have trouble getting a good print by going to the lab, especially on the Fuji machines, which I happen to like the best of all of the dig machines I've run so far. Maybe I've been lucky - I couldn't use an ICC profile if it came up and bit me on the nose, so I don't mess with color profiles... I just work in sRGB and keep my monitor calibrated and have never had a problem with any of the machines I've used giving me a good rendition of my work.

Then there's also the fact that as I was going from traditional restoration to digital restoration, I was learning to print my work photographically at the same time I was learning to use Photoshop. I think maybe that caused me to adjust the way I retouched and used the program to suit the machines I was printing on.

I can't get a decent looking print from a computer printer to save my life... About the closest thing to a computer print I've had success on good color with is a Kodak dye sub printer, but I detest glossy prints so that's out as an option for me.

Perhaps ignorance is in fact bliss after all...
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