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Oxford School of Photography
insights into photography
Photo printers vs online photo labs: which delivers the perfect print?
June 17, 2015Posted by on
A question I am asked regularly in class is what is the best way to get prints. In my experience getting someone else to do it is always cheaper and as long as your monitor is calibrated usually reliable. So this article on Digital Camera World opens up the discussion and is well worth a read if you are thinking about printing
Is it better to print your photos at home or have them created in a pro-level lab? We weigh up the pros and cons in our photo printers vs photo labs head-to-head test…
Home printers on test
Canon PIXMA MG7550/MG7520, £150, $150
Canon PIXMA Pro-10S, £600, $770
Epson Expression Photo XP-950, £240, $275
Epson SureColor P600, £570, $790
Online labs (UK)
Online labs (US)
WHCC (White House Custom Color)
We’re the instant generation. We want it all, and we want it now. Instant coffee, fast food, streaming movies – everything’s accessible on demand, no need to wait. Digital photography is no exception.
Press the shutter button and you can review the image a split-second later, right on the camera. There’s no indeterminate wait until you’ve finished the roll of film, then had it developed and finally picked up your proof prints.
Indeed, printing your images at home can be similarly speedy. Some desktop photo printers can output a 6×4-inch print in as little as 20 seconds, which is great for the impatient among us. But hang on just a minute.
Faster isn’t always better. Think fine dining and, chances are, you’re not thinking of a microwave dinner. And many would rather splash out on a posh coffee rather than gulp down a mug of instant.
Again, digital photography is no exception. Sure, a simple press of the shutter button is all that’s required to capture the image, but a lot of work and effort will often go into setting up the shot, matched by painstaking image enhancement at the photo editing stage.
Similarly, if you’re creating a photo print to last a lifetime, it’s worth spending a little time to make it look its best. That’s where the important choices come into play.