If you've been reading me for any length of time, you know that I've written quite a few columns explaining how small sensor cameras can and do make technically great photos. (We're in full agreement that technical greatness is not artistic greatness, so no need to resurrect that poor deceased equine and flog it anew.)
Naturally, I'm deeds as well as words. I've been successfully selling 17x22" fine art prints made with quarter- and half-scale sensor cameras. This hasn't meant lowering my standards; my business is still built on premium goods, and I am not about to jeopardize that.
Well, recently I made a photograph using my Olympus Pen E-P1 and the Zuiko 45mm ƒ/1.8 lens that I think exemplifies the very best that a Micro 4/3, 12-megapixel camera can do. It's not a hero experiment; I can go out any day and make photographs of this technical quality. I just can't see any possible way to make a much better one.
It's also one of my favorite photos and it makes a print I am especially tickled with. (This year; I am fickle.)
When I showed it to our 'Steamed Editor (that's how that's spelled, right?) we got to talking about how nice it would be if readers could see what we're talking about instead of just trusting the words and inadequate online screen illos. Words and JPEGs are not the same as seeing a picture for yourself. As instructional material, it would be nice to get it into as many hands as possible, which meant making it as affordable as possible.
I did some tests, research, and calculations, and I figured out that we could sell 17x22" prints of this photo for $19.95, shipping included.
I can only make that remarkable price work under a set of conditions that I know will make some of you unhappy. I'm very sorry about that, but it's the only way I can keep the cost and labor low enough. Here are the details:
- It's a 17x22" print on Epson Signature Worthy Ultra Premium Luster paper. It's printed to exactly the same standards I'd use for a fine-art fiber print, on my Epson 3880 printer.
- The print is unsigned. The title is printed on margin under the image. Technical information is printed in small type along the lower margin.
- The print is shipped in a tube, first class mail.
- Prints can only be shipped to U.S. addresses.
- Orders have to be paid for by PayPal, using the buttons below.
- All sales are final. Damaged prints will be replaced, but returns cannot be accepted.
I can't make any exceptions to these conditions, sorry. Please don't even ask. Exceptions would totally screw up my workflow.
Well, okay, I can make one exception, to the "U.S. addresses only" clause: if someone wants to order 25 prints to redistribute in their own country, I'll provide the prints to them for $400 including shipping in the U.S. or $440 including shipping outside the U.S. But I will not be handling (nor taking responsibility for) those orders. If you want to buy in bulk for redistribution, tell me so by email and we'll work out the details.
I really hate to have to impose these conditions, especially on our loyal non-U.S. readers. This time, however, I just can't make it work and keep the price down. International shipping is just too time-consuming.
The sale is limited to 1000 prints. It ends midnight, Sunday evening or when it sells out, whichever comes first. The 1000-print limit is not an edition, it's just a practical concern. Sorcerer's apprentice, marching broomsticks, that sort of thing. We might offer more prints later.
How to order
[Ordering instructions and PayPal buttons removed 4/30/12; sale has ended]
The first prints will go out within two weeks of the end of the sale and everyone will have their prints within 60 days. I haven't lost an order yet, but if an order is lost or damaged, I'll replace it.
Don't miss this chance to see for yourself just how amazing a small-sensor camera can be.
On Friday, we'll post an article with full details about how the print was made.
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Scott U: "I have been a long time viewer of this amazing blog, but can't afford the usual print offers (trying to start a business and fighting health issues). I am extremely appreciative of this offer! Thank you Ctein! Nothing beats having an a excellent physical print to study at one's own pace :) Not enough people have seen excellent technical prints from any camera let alone the smaller sensor families."
Featured Comment by The Lazy Aussie: "Nothing makes me angrier than a so-called international site that starts dishing out U.S.-only offers. Guaranteed to make the rest of the world angry. I'm not sure why in this case, because I don't actually want a print. I'm therefore seething for no reason, so please continue about your business."
Mike replies: Nothing makes you angrier? Really? That right there strikes me as very lucky indeed. I'm just sayin'.
The Lazy Aussie replies: "I guess I was angrier when the sea consumed my iphone while using the lightmeter app."
Featured [partial] Comment by Nicholas Condon: "I'm sure there will be a chorus of these sorts of comments, but that's a great photo, and $19.95 is a ridiculous price for a big print on good materials by a master printer, even if it is unsigned; I've paid more for crappy posters, fercrissakes. I'm not sure how Ctein's time is getting priced here, but I have the suspicion that he's working for perilously close to free, and that the TOP community owes him about 1,000 drinks. As a Micro 4/3 user myself (one who just recently parted with his beloved E-P1 in favor of the smaller models), I will be quite interested to see what the apotheosis of Micro 4/3 technical quality looks like."
Featured Comment by mark: "Not only am I a Micro 4/3 user who's interested in this print size issue, I'm a bridge fanatic! I couldn't be happier with this image choice."
Featured Comment by Maarten B.: "I don't understand what is so time consuming about 'International shipping' (What is this anyway? It really depends on your standpoint, literally). You just need more expensive stamps. Or am I missing something? For some reason I'm always irritated by these types of exclusions or exceptions. Just raise the price to $24.95 and you can serve everybody for the same price."
Ctein replies: Maarten, 'International shipping' means exactly the same thing everywhere; shipping between countries. If I ship to you it's international shipping. If you ship to me it's international shipping. It doesn't change with your point of view. All the changes are the national postal and customs regulations, which of course vary from country to country.
Here, international shipping by a reliable service increases my direct costs by more than $30 per order. The truth is that when I have tacked on that $30 shipping charge for international orders in my previous sales, I have not broken even on that! I dislike the fact that out-of-country buyers have to pay so much to get my work, even if it's not my fault, so I'm willing to subsidize it to the tune of a few dollars. I can do that when it's a high profit, high-margin item.
I also don't charge anything for the extra time and labor on those higher-margin items. While I can auto-generate the customs forms on the computer, it still requires a considerable amount of hand data entry, and the forms have to be individually checked in by a clerk at the post office; I can't just drop off a stack of packages.
International orders have been between 35% and 40% of my volume in my three previous sales. $24.95 applied across the board wouldn't even cover the direct costs. And when you add in covering my extra time and labor and replacing any packages that go astray, which would have to be done in this case because the margins aren't large enough for me to just eat it, it would require doubling the price of the prints. Assuming I was even willing to undertake the considerably larger amount of work, which I'm not.
When I said I couldn't figure out a way to make this work for international buyers, I really meant it. It's not like I want to cut you guys out of the picture.