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Thursday, 20 October 2016


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I was given a Fuji single-use film camera last weekend (expiration date in 1996!), and shot most of the film in it on Tuesday, so this is timely; I'll be looking for somewhere to get it processed soon. I think I'll just get negs and do my own scans though -- for 20-year-expired film, I'm not actually prepared to commit to much until I see what it looks like.

(And made four workprints last night from digital images from Tuesday.)

Mike, Amazon's new prices look nice, but the biggest print you can make is 8x10, or so it appears. Costco offers fantastically better deals, a 20x30 at $9.99, or 16x20 at $6.99. They use Noritsu and Fuji Frontier printers, your choice (though limited to custom labs) of Fuji color paper. Upload a file and come pick it up a couple hours later, or they will ship it. You can pick up custom ICC profiles for their machines too. I have no idea how they can do this but they do. Used them for years.

[Yes, I think Costco is pretty much acknowledged as the gold standard for inexpensive but good-enough prints. --Mike]

I've used Ilford's service for film. As far as I could tell they partner with The Darkroom for the actual work, a development and print service I like.

I'll have to look in to Amazon family vault. Sounds smart. I recently uploaded all 27,000 of my full sized jpegs to Flickr because their camera roll feature keeps the main pile private, and because it's cheap or free (I pay), and because their uploader is fast and well designed. I like it the idea that if "the big one" hits me my images won't all vanish with my credit card payment. Of course 9 cent prints might be even better.

I would love to make my own prints at home. I even have a decent photo printer and can buy the ink at a discount. However, properly color managing my workflow is an investment I have always put off for other photo needs, and I just can't find enough time to devote to making my own prints. Ergo, I upload & send away. Sometimes the colors aren't exactly what I envisioned, but I find if I prepare the file well it comes out "well enough."

I use the Costco photo center when I need prints for an exhibition.

I bought an Epson P800 printer about a year ago. You’re right, it takes practice and money and is very satisfying to make one’s own prints. I used Costco’s print service before then because they publish profiles for their printer / paper combinations on line and their prices are inexpensive – like the Amazon prices you mention. Also, there is an option to turn off the printer auto adjust feature and I did and had good control over the resulting print. I would upload jpgs the night before and pick up prints the next day. They offer luster and gloss surfaces. The print quality is fine and the paper is OK. They do mail order if you are not near a store.

The inexpensive, good print service helped me get my re-introduction to photography going. I took classes that required 8 or more, 8X10 or larger prints per week and the print service allowed me to concentrate on the assignments rather than learning how to make ink jet prints.

Now, I am amazed by the quality produced by ink jet printing. I like it that the room does not have to be dark and my hands don't smell like acetic acid when I'm done.

I had an Epson R3800 for about 5 years and never got along with it. I guess I just didn't print enough, so it was always clogged, and I ran through so much ink trying to clean it that I nearly bankrupted myself. In the end I gave it away on Craigslist, I hope someone is making good use of it.

I've since switched to printing online, through El-Co Color Labs. Their "poster special" is a great deal. I put "poster special" in quotes because these are high quality C-Prints, and they're a great deal. They also do archival inkjet printing, which is of course, more expensive.

I have a well calibrated monitor and the results are pretty close the first time around, and usually just right after a little tweaking and a second print run. Of course, some prints just require more effort than is practical with this kind of workflow, but it's more than good enough for me 90% of the time.

The Amazon prints service doesn't seem to be available in the UK just yet.

Assuming it does appear, will you receive commission on orders through your link ?

[Actually I don't know yet. --Mike]

I'm fortunate that I have a very competent (and reasonably priced) photo finishing establishment nearby (Photoworks, SF). I submit my file, get a small test strip for $15, tweak it when and where necessary, resubmit file, and get a beautiful 13X19 print for $55. If something's wrong, I usually have only myself to blame. My major problem is not having the resources to avail myself of their services on a more consistent basis.

You have hardly scratched the surface. There are many such services, some, unlike Amazon, with a deep history in printing. (Although they likely bought someone or are acting as agent for someone else.)

Without even thinking about it, I knew of four, and there are more.

I have used AdoramaPix for 11x14 and 16x20 prints on Kodak and Fuji photographic papers, and been pleased with the results. I've also shown them to the two best pro printers I know, who are very good, and they liked them, too.

Shutterfly offers prints; I've only tried 100 free 4x6s from a promo offer. They were good.

Others I know from seeing prints of friends' images by them, Bayphoto and Miller's Labs. Both have serious pro users, as well as amateurs, and a vast range of services.

I haven't checked today, but suspect prices competitive with Amazon, especially compared to signing up for Prime for printing only. $99 will buy a lot of simple prints.

Only mentioning two minor players seems awfully incomplete, and possibly misleading to any tyro who happens by.

I have had good luck getting big prints on poster board from Costco. I haven't checked lately but I believe you can load a stores printer profile off their site if you are so inclined. I have s number of 20x30s on poster board that look really good at least to me.

If you don't make your own "Steenking" prints, ya ain't having no fun!
And the "Steenking" begins even before you lather the paper with pigments - yup, I like the old Baryta "smell".

Do-it-yourself is 10 times the value of Do-it-for you. "Value" here is decidedly not $$$. Just like Mike, I often totally loose track of time as the night sails past me with all the fun I'm having.

I hope those labs stay afloat but they won't on account of me :-)

Digital Siver Imaging in NYC seems to be very serious about fine art quality printing. I considered going that route before I finally said f*k dat and bought my Epson 3880. http://digitalsilverimaging.com/

I have been using Adoramapix for many years:



That is in addition to the two Epson 7600's and an Epson 9600 that I used to run.

One 7600 modified to run the 7800 ink set, The other 7600 ran custom mixed B&W inks, usually following the guidance of Paul Roark:


Although it is pretty dated, the virtue of the 7600 was that it was the last large format printer that allowed you almost full control to the internal settings. Later printers locked you out of many of the maintenance and repair menu's.


Now I am running two Canon Pro-100 printers. One with a substitute ink set for everyday use, and one with the Canon OEM ink set for permanent prints.

Although I very rarely print any more. Most of my images stay in digital format.

Hmm, that Ilford lab is suspiciously close to the Ken-who-must-not-be-named's favorite lab, NCPS:

You haven't mentioned one significant drawback to doing your own printing which is suffered by a significant proportion of males, namely colour blindness.
I made a lot of prints up to A3 plus with an Epson 2100 for a few years, mostly successfully but always needed them checked by my artist wife - I have a tendency to make skin tones slightly orange!
When my Epson died I decided to use print labs, a decision that I have not regretted.
Here in Australia I have found good labs and I am currently using one 4000 km across the country who send good quality prints, packed flat and sealed at an economic price

I use ProDPI quite happily.

When my HP Photo-Something died years back, clogged for its last time, I swore to never purchase another photo printer again and instead use a print service.

I have been sorely tempted on many occasions to renege, but so far have not succumbed. Those new Epsons do look tasty. But I print almost exclusively 8x10, so they are a lot bigger than I want or need.

Sigh....I really miss shooting film in my Hexar AF, especially Tri-X and sending it to A&I with instruction for +1 stop push. I've come close to replicating that on Epson or Ilford paper in my 2880, but its not the same. Lookng forward to retirement and concentrating on printing...

Don't know about the Amazon print service (I use Photobox in the UK), but I love the Prime service. The subscription quickly pays for itself with saved postage for me and family members, and the cloud storage works as well or better than any others I've tried.

And it's unlimited for many image file types (but not video) including DNG. I'm currently using 4TB of their disk space gratis.

And yes, I have successfully recovered folders!

A buddy entered the PhotoMidwest 2016 show juried by Larry Fink. His photo, which took 2nd, was made at Sam's Club.

Because CostCo no longer runs their labs locally I have not used them for some time. They are moving to a centralized processing system. The only order I've pushed through came out okay but came in 2 batches which makes it difficult to pick up (they are over 10 miles away).

White House Custom Color (WHCC) does good work but ruins it with sloppy shipping. Too many orders damaged and the need to get them to reprint and reship. On time limited jobs this causes issues.

AdoramaPix does good work and I've used them. Maybe who I use in the future.

Don't have Prime and don't plan on it. But if I did, I would really read their TOS and any license agreements carefully, especially for Intellectual Property rights. Make sure they don't try to appropriate any images stored or printed.

Take care,

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