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Printing Photos at Home

How much does it cost - and what equipment is there to buy - in order to print photos at home?

I'm not looking to set up a print ship by any means, but if I do this, I'm not looking to print low-quality photos either. My wife scrapbooks and photography is an important part of our lives.

Nothing too big: 4x6 mostly, with some 5x7 and maybe some 8x10s at some point. I'm not all that concerned about color matching - "awfully close" will be good enough - but I am concerned about up-front costs.

What's the cost-per-print (4x6) once you factor in the non-reusables (ink, paper)? Is it even cost effective to print at home or will Wal-Mart's $0.19 printing still be awfully competitive?

3 Responses to "Printing Photos at Home"

  1. I've run the numbers a few times in the past, and after the costs of consumables, and have yet to been able to justify not just printing photos at the Wall-mart.

    Now there is something to be said for instant gratification, and unless you're going by Wal-mart for something else there are gas costs involved too.

    My cent and a half.

  2. It is going to be cheaper to print at a place like Walmart (especially if you are happy with their paper quality and color output.)

    I print at home for convenience when doing a few prints at a time. But with my (cheap) dye based HP printer, I have to use the more expensive swellable paper (nearly the cost per sheet just for paper for finished prints elsewhere) to avoid fading if I'm going to take them to the fridge. The cheaper advanced paper seems to hold up OK if you frame the photos or put them in an album.

    HP claims that the cost per print when using Advanced paper is comparable to the labs. I think those estimates are at least a little optimistic based on real world experience, and then you have the account for how you intend to use the prints vs. ink permanence on this paper.

    Right now I've got 2 photos on the fridge tha have been there since spring. HP dye inks + advanced paper is terribly faded. Photo lab on Fuji Crystal Archive looks like new.

    I haven't done the fridge test with the swellable paper, and the album I printed on advanced now belongs to my sister-in-law, so I don't have it handy to check fading on.

    If you do end up going the HP route, their online store often offers buy 2, get one free paper specials with free shipping.

  3. I have seen some absolutely horrific prints come out of the local "quick photo" places. Many times the machines can be out of calibration and the staff is unable to correct them. The best they could do with this picture of our my daughter was to brighten the dress to a brilliant white and give her a skin tone of a very dark brown.

    We found a local photo store that did the pictures for about the same price and made them look good. (They adjust the print color in each of the photos individually, based on instructions.) I have no plans to go with a photo printer or back to an instant photo again.