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Author Topic: Printer cost of operation vs. lab  (Read 3544 times)
Jayhawk
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« on: October 25, 2006, 09:17:11 AM »
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Has anyone ever broken down the cost/benefit of producing your own prints vs. using a lab?  Does the recurring cost of ink and paper, plus the initial cost of the pritner outweigh the lab costs?
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madmanchan
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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2006, 10:28:46 AM »
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Has anyone ever broken down the cost/benefit of producing your own prints vs. using a lab?  Does the recurring cost of ink and paper, plus the initial cost of the pritner outweigh the lab costs?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=82192\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, definitely. MarkDS has written some articles on this site about computing the costs (over the long term) of inkjet prints, FYI.

In my case, I used a fairly simple model that nonetheless answered the question for me. My favorite lab is WHCC (www.whcc.com). An 8x10 from WHCC costs $2. This is the "sweet spot" in price for WHCC. Going above or below an 8x10 means that the cost/unit area goes up.

I considered getting an Epson 2200 ($700 at the time). I guesstimated that it would cost about $0.60 to print an 8.5x11 on Ilford Smooth Pearl, based on stats that I had gathered on ink costs for a friend's 2200, plus the cost of the paper itself.

So I wanted to know how many prints P I would have to make in order to make the Epson worthwhile (from purely a cost point of view). So I wrote

700 + 0.60 * P < 2 * P
700 < 1.4 * P
P > 500

So if I make more than ~500 prints of size roughly 8x10, the Epson will be cheaper. Since I often print bigger than 8x10, even fewer than 500 prints were needed to make the Epson more attractive from a cost point of view.

So I got my own printer.

Eric
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chilehead
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« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2006, 11:20:30 AM »
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You also have to figure in the cost/time of driving to the lab several times until you get a satisfactory print.  Unless you do mail-order.  (Then you have to figure the cost of driving to the post office.)

Also figure the cost of baldness remedies you will need after your hair falls out from trying to get a satisfactory print.  

-Mark
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tgphoto
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« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2006, 11:27:43 AM »
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In terms of calculating the costs of printing, my wife, whom I affectionately refer to as my 'Chief Financial Officer" and I conducted a bit of an experiment shortly after purchasing the 7800.

I made many prints over the course of a few weeks, keeping track of the number and size of the prints I made.  We then used the total, along with the cost of both paper and ink, to figure out the cost of an 8x10 print:

Keep in mind we were using a set of 110mL inks and I did not swap out blacks at any point.

Printed area per ink set   8224  inches
Printed area per ink set   57.1   sq ft
Ink cost per sq ft   7.879377432  dollars

sq feet in roll    200   sq ft
Price per roll    65   Dollars (we used Epson Enhanced Matte for this test)
price per sq ft   0.325   


Print cost per sq ft   8.204377432   

sq inches for 8x10   80
sq inches in 1 sq ft   144
8x10 as % of 1 sq ft   0.555555556
cost of 8x10    $4.56
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tgphoto
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« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2006, 11:38:59 AM »
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Also figure the cost of baldness remedies you will need after your hair falls out from trying to get a satisfactory print. 

This is no laughing matter!  You can tell by looking at my shiny cue ball of a melon just how serious a problem this is!
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Jon Shiu
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« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2006, 04:59:58 PM »
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In terms of calculating the costs of printing, my wife, whom I affectionately refer to as my 'Chief Financial Officer" and I conducted a bit of an experiment shortly after purchasing the 7800.

I made many prints over the course of a few weeks, keeping track of the number and size of the prints I made. We then used the total, along with the cost of both paper and ink, to figure out the cost of an 8x10 print:

Keep in mind we were using a set of 110mL inks and I did not swap out blacks at any point.

Printed area per ink set   8224 inches
Printed area per ink set   57.1  sq ft
Ink cost per sq ft   7.879377432 dollars

sq feet in roll 200   sq ft
Price per roll 65   Dollars (we used Epson Enhanced Matte for this test)
price per sq ft   0.325   
Print cost per sq ft   8.204377432   

sq inches for 8x10   80
sq inches in 1 sq ft   144
8x10 as % of 1 sq ft   0.555555556
cost of 8x10 $4.56
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=82220\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Interesting to compare these real world costs vs. Epson's estimate of $1.27/sq ft. Although not sure if they include the ink in the initial charging of the printer.

Jon
« Last Edit: October 25, 2006, 05:02:17 PM by Jon Shiu » Logged

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dbell
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« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2006, 06:02:15 PM »
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I think that if you're serious about trying to make fine prints, the decision has to come down to more than cost.

Personally, I find the feedback cycle involved with farming out prints to be way too long. I
I get the results I want in less time by doing it myself. I can make as many prints as I need to get it right with a minimum of waiting around. I also think it's easier to develop an eye for reading prints if you make your own, as you can see the results of your adjustments immediately. You also have reason to believe that the equipment is always set up the same way and that a consistent workflow is adhered to.

I don't care if my per-print cost is a little higher. The prices that I charge for my finished prints take that into consideration.


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Daniel Bell
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