So you've taken some digital photos, and you'll probably want to print the best ones out so that you show them to your friends and family. But why use FrogPrint's print processing when you can print them out for free at home? We've broken down the pros and cons of each option below, including a price breakdown of what it really could be costing you at home.
When is Inkjet Right?
There's no denying that having a color inkjet printer connected to your home computer is a real convenience. In just a few minutes, most desktop printers can crank out decent color prints for illustrated school reports, neighborhood newsletters and eye-catching flyers. They can even make great photo composites when you're putting together layout ideas for your company's next brochure. But what happens when you come back from your summer holiday and want to print out 50 or so photos (the equivalent of 2 rolls of film). Using the figures below for an average inkjet, it would probably take you the better part of an hour (without the time needed to cut them up), probably exhaust a printer cartridge, and end up costing you somewhere near $70. Using an inkjet printer makes the most sense when:
  1. you need one or a few prints in a hurry,
  2. photo quality isn't a high priority, and
  3. print life and durability aren't critical.
But When You Want Quality ...
There are several advantages to photographic printing - the most important being quality and longevity. The following are just a few of the reasons we think photo prints are clear winners:
All things considered, real photo prints are pretty tough. They stand up to fingerprints without smudging, they're reasonably waterproof, and they last a good, long time. While some of the newer (and more expensive) photo-quality inkjet printers are doing better on the longevity front than their predecessors, the majority of consumer models are still quick to fade and bleed ink at the slightest exposure to moisture. So unless your printer uses the latest specially formulated inks (very expensive), its prints are likely to fade in just a few months - even sooner if they're exposed to sunlight.
As inkjet printers use a process of layering colours to achieve the end result they almost always struggle to achieve true colour. The major printer manufacturers have all implemented color management systems, but do you have the time and technical expertise to be fiddling round with something that will always fall short of your expectations. The combination of smooth glossy finish, smooth color gradations and the sense of depth the colors have, still make true photo prints the obvious standouts in side-by-side comparisons. Why should you spend hours tweaking software to get the yellows out of your skin tones when you can have a professional processing lab do it for you? Bottom line: If you want the ultimate "photographic" look for your digital images, there's really no substitute for photographic prints.
If you just need a print or two in a hurry, your inkjet printer is the way to go. But, if your time is more important, and you want the kind of service you used to get with your film camera then ordering prints through the FrogPrints print service is the hands-down winner. You can select the photos you want to print and make an online order in the time that suits you, and then not have to worry again about paper jams, clogged nozzles and cartridge refillls!!!
Well it seems to be free when you print at home, but check out the numbers below for how much per print it could really be costing you. These numbers were taken from a test done by Digital Photography Now in the UK, but converted to NZ avaliable prices.
HP psc-950 Epson Stylus 950 Canon S800 Lexmark Z43
Purchase Price $599.00 $845.00 $700.00 $445.00
Pages printed* 41 29 54 25
Time per page (sec) 265 255 137 723
Ink cost per page $2.41 $1.97 $2.39 $6.67
Paper cost per page $2.14 $2.07 $2.44 $2.88
Equipment write-off/page** $1.20 $1.69 $1.41 $0.89
Total cost per A4 page $5.75 $5.73 $6.23 $10.43
Cost per 6x4" print $1.44 $1.43 $1.56 $2.61
* Pages printed before first colour ran out
** Based on 500 pages or the equivalent developing a roll of film a week for 2 years