Recommendations for Photo Printer

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Mike Frezon, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Would like to get the wife a photo printer for Christmas. She uses a Toshiba digital camera (which takes terrific pictures!) and downloads the pictures onto her PC. She has tried the on-line companies that will take the images and send prints through the mail. She has tried printing them on our color inkjet. She's also tried taking the images to the local stores and having prints made. All with varying results.

    I don't know much about photo printers so I thought I'd see if you folks have any recommendations based on personal experience you'd like to share.

    About the only specs I have is I'd like to keep the price as close to $100 to $150 as possible. I would think something with a USB connection so that she can continue to download images onto her hard drive, manipulate them and then send them to the printer. In other words, I've seen many models that promote the fact they can be connected directly to the camera and that the images can be edited on the printer before being printed. That feature is one I don't need because she is used to doing the manipulation in Photoshop.

    Thanks for any ideas!
     
  2. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Are you looking for something that will replicate 4x6 "snapshot" prints, or one that will do larger format?

    For the larger format (they'll still do 4x6), the best option (and the only option in your price range) is still inkjet. In the under $150 range, they're all about the same. Six or seven color inkjets are better than four... and you should avoid three color printers. In this price range, the color tank will be an all-in-one, meaning when you run out of one color, you replace all. It isn't economical in the long run.

    I recommend Epson and Canon inkjets - but my experience is with the higher end machines.

    For dedicated 4x6 snapshot printers, you'll have to check specs to see what "language" they speak - to see what cameras will print direct (all will also attach to a computer). These are all limited to 4" stock - normally 4x6, but some offer a panoramic option (4x8).

    These small dye-sub printers are fast and deliver good snapshot results - but they use a 3-color process. Shadows can sometimes have a slight color cast to them. Black and white photos are very difficult to get "neutral". Still, these generally deliver results similar to what you'd get from a one-hour photo lab. "Fine Art" they are not, but they make nice snapshots. Buying paper/cartridge sets in bulk can get the per-print cost down around 25 cents with some models. Shop around online for the refills for different models - ongoing "feeding" costs may help you make a decision.

    I recommend the Canon line of snapshot printers.

    -Scott
     
  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Scott:

    Awesome reply! Thanks!

    That was exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

    She is looking to be able to make small format prints (4" by 6" is exactly right).

    A couple of questions, if I may, based upon your response:



    This will be where I start my research! Again, thanks for taking the time to help out!
     
  4. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    Most of the dedicated 4x6 printers are dye-sublimation printers, not inkjet. In any consumer price range, they are three color printers. Dye-sub is a continuous-tone print - it transfers dyes in various intensities rather than using identically dense dots to make the print. These provide dot-less photo images, and do so much more quickly than an inkjet.

    The "ink" for a dye-sub is a roll like a fax cartriidge. Generally, you buy media packs that include both paper and cartridges.

    If I were going for a printer that could handle larger output, I'd go for a six or seven color inkjet system. The 4x6 dye-subs do much better with fewer colors than the inkjets do, but are still less than perfect. The consumer dye-subs are an excellent choice for snapshots, but for serious art prints you'd want to go inkjet - of course you'd likely want a larger format as well.

    Check out the Canon Selphy printers for the dedicated snapshot printers.

    I have both a Canon 4x6 dye-sub (an older model) and an Epson 6 color inkjet. I use both all the time - the Canon gives the equivalent of what I used to go to the 1-hour processor for. I actually have a battery powered model and can print snapshots "in the field." Very popular for family get-togethers... The Epson gives higher quality possibilities in an 8x10 format.

    -Scott
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Any thoughts on this one?

    Some quick internet research pointed me towards the Canon PIXMA ip4200

    Reviews at PCMag, PCWorld, amazon.com (both professional and consumer) are giving it high marks.

    And...it looks like its coming in around the $100 mark! [​IMG]

    It has five individual ink tanks--cyan, magenta, yellow and dye-based black and pigment-based black. Most reviews say its fast and gives good quality pix. Sounds pretty good to me.

    EDIT** I was composing this post when you responded above.

    Again, I'm not looking for anything fancy (fine art work)...just something similar to what my wife would get at a one-hour photo place.
     
  6. PerryD

    PerryD Supporting Actor

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    I'm in the same boat, looking for a small portable 4x6 photo printer. I was leaning towards the Epson Picturemate Deluxe. The ink and paper are sold bundled to print 100 pictures for $29, and supposedly you can print quite a bit more on your own photo paper before the ink finally runs out, so you'll get better than the 29 cent per picture average. The new Picturemate has a color LCD preview screen and prints faster than the previous model. The printer itself is $200, although there have been rebates recently (I think $40 rebate).
     
  7. Scott Dautel

    Scott Dautel Second Unit

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    Mike:

    The Canon Pixma series come highly recommended. A few months ago, I replaced my HP inkjet with a Pixma MP780 (aill-in-one). I've always preferred the std size photo inkjets because I often print 5x7's for tabletop frames. The 4x6 dedicated printers do a fine job, but you are limited to specific print sizes ... particularly with the dye-sub models.

    My Pixma is similar to the one you describe in that it has the 5 ink tanks (3 color, 2 black). I'm currently using Canon paper and aftermarket ink carts from abcink.com that appear 100% equivalent to Canon. Per print cost is about as cheap as you are going to get with this setup. On the Canon units, the printhead is separate, so you dont throw it away everytime you replace an ink cart, as on HP.

    Re print sizes, my Pixma has a std (8.5x11) paper feeder in the back and a cartridge underneath, Both can accept any size up to 8.5" wide, but I keep 4x6 paper in the cartridge and choose it through the print menu when printing pics... very convenient.

    Also check to see if your camera(s) have PicBridge ... this lets you plug the cameras directly into many printer(s) directly with some editing capapbilities ... no 'puter required. All the Canon Pixma printers have this.

    One last comment ... consider a photo printer with a built-in scanner on top. It does NOT add much cost and the form factor is about the same. This is really useful for making duplicates of old prints. Ive already saved quite a bit of $$ on kid school & sports pics by ordering the minimum and duplicating for relatives.

    Pixma series ... Highly recommended
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Amazon has a nice deal on the slightly older Canon iP6000d for about $80 delivered ($60 plus $20 shipping).

    It has the LCD screen and reads memory cards, no need to use the PC to get photos printed off memory cards. It'll print 4x6, and up to 8.5x11 prints. Does duplex front/back printing too.

    Also, it doesn't use the chipped ink tanks.

    I'm almost tempted to buy this (though I have a iP4000 already).
     
  9. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    Thanks, on this thansgiving weekend, to Patrick Sun!

    Pulled the trigger on the Canon PIXMA ip6000D. Price was a big consideration. From what I learned in this thread, individual ink tanks were the way to go. Also, I checked consumer reviews at a number of different sites and this model scored pretty high at all of them.

    As I detailed earlier, we have a PC loaded with photo editing software...so that's how we'll be doing most of our printing...but it does include memory card readers as well which we might find convenient at times. I've also got a flatbed scanner already attached. I also liked USB connectivity! [​IMG]

    I also ordered enough Canon paper (4x6 glossy) to qualify for super-saver printing on the paper.

    The only thing is, I won't be able to report back here until after Christmas as Santa will be putting the item away for the big day. So I don't want anyone letting my wife know about this thread! [​IMG]
     
  10. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Actually, if you're serious about getting consistent, reproduceable, matching results, you need to do some color management, if you haven't been doing that already.

    See here for some info on this:

    http://drycreekphoto.com/

    Personally, I would've suggested the Hi-Touch HiTi series of dye-subs, not Canon (or Sony, etc). You probably could get one for 4x6 prints w/out on-board editing features nor standalone printing for $100-150 although their consummables are more like $.40 per 4x6. They also make one for ~$300 that allows 3 different sizes from 4x6 to 5x7 to 6x8. Olympus makes one that goes for ~$400 I think that does 8x10 prints.

    For me, I prefer decent dye-sub prints most of the time. Don't much care for inkjet, especially w/ small prints like 4x6. Also, inkjets tend to be a hassle to use unless you print very regularly.
     
  11. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    While I would also recommend drycreekphoto, I didn't mention it due to the cost - the initial poster's budget wouldn't include a custom profile. I also think I would reserve such a service for larger format prints. Custom profiles are expensive for snapshots.

    -Scott
     
  12. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Yeah, I didn't mean to suggest that he buy some custom profiles, but rather for him to learn about that stuff so he (or rather his wife) can understand why he's getting varied results across various printers and services. Also, that site provides a database of existing profiles for various printing services on the web and around the country, including those at some local Costcos and Walmarts.

    So in the future, if he wants to send his printing to some photolab/service that has an existing profile w/ Dry Creek, he can do so w/ good, consistent results.
     

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