DPP Home Business The True Cost Of Big Prints

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The True Cost Of Big Prints

Does it pay off for you to make large prints yourself or to contract the work out to a high-quality lab?

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Epson Stylus Pro 7890
Size & Placement
And don't underestimate the space that a large-format printer takes up. If the paper path is 44 inches wide, the printer itself can be as much as 74 inches wide and 41 inches deep. The Canon iPF8300 and iPF6300 and Epson Stylus Pro 9890 and Stylus Pro 7890 can be loaded from the front of the printer for cut sheets and rolls, while the HP Designjet Z3200 models require you to load rolls from the rear of the printer. All of these units require either USB or Ethernet access. Using a USB cable longer than 15 feet can lead to data loss so if your printer needs to be farther from that from your computer, you need to use the Ethernet connection.

Lab Costs And Benefits
Individual lab costs vary, and the costs are different depending on how much personal attention you need.

If you're prepping files yourself and you just need a color check, that's one thing, but if you want to work with the print technician to craft all aspects of a print, costs will increase dramatically. For comparison, here are some costs for Digital C Prints from two well-known labs, Bay Photo and Duggal Visual Solutions. Note that we're using 20x24 inches as the baseline for these prints. Digital C Prints can vary in quality, but they remain popular with many wedding and portrait photographers who print in volume. Larger Digital C Prints usually aren't a volume proposition, but they are convenient if you're sending sRGB-calibrated image files to the lab and you are printing in a number of sizes.

For a more direct comparison of apples to apples we're also listing inkjet print prices from West Coast Imaging.

Lab-Generated Inkjet Prints
Another popular lab for large and custom prints is West Coast Imaging. A quick look at their price lists shows that you can get an inkjet Exhibition Print in the 24 x 36 inch size start at about $132 if you send fully-prepared files and prices go up if your images need retouching. Here are some details:

24 x 36 inch: 1st Print-Watercolor Smooth, Silver Rag, Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk papers: $132

24 x 36 inch: Prints 2-9 -Watercolor Smooth, Silver Rag, Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk papers: $108 each

24 x 36 inch: 10 Or More Prints- Watercolor Smooth, Silver Rag, Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk papers: $90 each

Lab-Generated Digital C Prints
Bay Photo. Bay Photo offers a Competition Prints service, where prints are individually printed by their technicians. The service is designed for PPA print competitions, but it's also the level of service many pros will want for making a fine one-off large print. Prints are available on a variety of media, including Kodak Endura Glossy paper (standard), Metallic and Fuji Pearl (optional), and the images are mounted on foamboard.

Kodak Endura Glossy: $22.00
Metallic: $26.40
Fuji Pearl: $29.37

Duggal Visual Solutions. Duggal has been a mainstay of the New York professional community for decades. They offer a variety of print services. For the purposes of this article, we're confining the scope to their Digital C prints, Digital B&W Fiber Paper prints and Deep Matte Fuji Paper prints.


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