Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1]   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: "Serious Amateur" reality check  (Read 5054 times)
wolfy
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 93


« on: December 26, 2006, 02:03:16 PM »
ReplyReply

Subtitle: "It ain't th' bitin'-off,...it's th' chewin'!"

Personal situation: Lifetime 35mm film type. Been sitting out DSLR advances for some time since retirement, awaiting a "state of the art" where I wish to make my one-time "jump" into the on-rushing stream. This adventure will not pay its own way, ...so I have held my one-shot fund for a moment that seemed right for my expected needs/wants. I imagine that this coming year's 1-series releases from Canon will give me the final nudge over the edge.  ( ...been passing the intervening years with digicams and PS practise.)

The "serious" part of my amateur classification indicates that I take seriously any activity in which I choose to spend my diminishing time participating(66 yrs. old).  It does NOT indicate that I engage in this pursuit continuously, or "only", to the extent that my other interests are neglected.

This being the case, I expect that my actual printer use could be limited to (perhaps CONSIDERABLY) fewer than 20 prints per month on average. I am very selective as to which images I would select as "serious-printworthy", and treasure a few prized images rather than seeking to proudly display all "my work". 240 really(!)-prized images a year?... I doubt it  

If I only want some casual activity to spend my time on, my guitar playing attempts, boat-design/building, etc. will provide for that need.

But today's PS capabilities, combined with the cameras we now have, make for a delightful creative experience for anyone who prefers complete hands-on involvement and control of their artistic efforts, from start to finish.

I'm sure everyone reading this can sympathize with the temptation to equip oneself for this entire experience, conception to display.

The dilemma, as I see it:

After spending $30,000 or (however much)more for camera, lenses, accesories, etc.,...
and after devoting the time to conceptualize, pursue,capture, and process an image, ... one then turns to his/her $X,000 computer/software/calibration/printing/mounting/displaying "system".

If the desire is for a max print size of at least 16X20, certain printers are candidates.  Once purchased, the next concern is ink/paper selection, ...and then we have the dependable performance question.

For me this is the point where the already nearly ridiculous becomes the absurd(for the described amateur).

The short bottom-line seems to be that ink wastage from system purgings, print-head clogging and shelf-life(in use) limitations, when added to all other aforementioned "initial" costs, make a PITN and an exhorbitant per-image expense of the whole thing,...at least for a rational person of multiple interests not among those whom my Dad would have described as having "too much money". I respectfully submit that Michael failed to discuss Achilles' "other" heel, in his review of the new Epson 3800,...the oft-mentioned-elsewhere "clogging question". (...test-time constraints, I'm sure)

After waiting hopefully for the time to participate fully in this venture,...I now find myself, instead, tottering on the brink of chucking the whole photographic art  idea, and putting my time and assets into something offering more reward and fulfillment per billion dollars/hours invested.

Comments welcome!

( Let's see now,...with a pencil and paper, I have infinite control of resolution, D of F, contrast, included subject matter, perspective,  plane of focus, ..., ..., ... hmmmmmmmm. If someone were to offer me $50,000 to do my "creating" in a different medium,...would I take it? And there's still that new, unplayed saxophone in the closet   )
Logged
Jack Flesher
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2595



WWW
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2006, 02:39:05 PM »
ReplyReply

Speaking for myself, I am not sure I understand your point(s) exactly...  But since "Comments welcome!" I will add some of my own 'approximate' math...

Canon 5D = $3000
Canon 24, 45 and 90 TSE Lenses = $3500
Canon 24-105 zoom and 70-200 f4IS zoom = $2500

Epson 3800 printer = $1250.
4 boxes 17x22 Epson Premium Luster (25 sheets each and about what the ink that comes with the printer will cover) = $250.

Total investment = $10,500 IF you have to buy the new lenses above.  If you have lenses, then total investment = $4500.

With paper wastage or plain old crappy prints, figure 50% failure rate and this gets you 100 16x20 prints.

~~~

The typical custom lab will charge you about $30 for a 16x20 print comparable to what you can produce above, so 50 lab prints = $1500.  

But you also exposed and processed say 50 rolls of film to generate 50 print worthy images...  So about $20 per roll processed = $1000, or $2500 total for your 50 lab produced 16x20's.

~~~

Your second set of home produced 50 16x20's will only cost ink and paper.  Another 100 sheets of 17x22 and a new set of inks with the same 50% failure rate, $250 for the paper and $500 for inks; your total for your next 50 prints =  $750.

Of course your next 50 lab produced prints will still cost $2500.

Five total cycles would equal 250 prints, or your first year (or two) of prints.  

5 cycles at the lab => 5x $2500 = $12,500

5 cycles at home if you already owned the lenses => $4500 + 4x$750 = $7500
5 cycles at home if you need new lenses => $10,500 + 4x$750 = 13,500

~~~

So you are 66 now.  If you plan on only shooting for two more years, you'll about break even at 125 images per year and be ahead of the game with digital if you do make your 240 images per year.  

Of course if you last three (or more) years, you'll be well ahead of the game with digital...

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 03:12:03 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

eronald
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3871



WWW
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2006, 03:14:31 PM »
ReplyReply

I'll add a comment: The real killer with these systems is the set up time and hassle, not the monetary cost. Also, here in Paris, the real estate which you need for a printer is substantially more expensive than the printer.

Edmund
Logged

Edmund Ronald, Ph.D. 
wolfy
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 93


« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2006, 04:02:29 PM »
ReplyReply

Thanks Jack and Edmund, for your comments.

Jack, I didn't detail, but the high initial equipment cost was based upon a "latest" 1-Series camera and a bunch of L-glass...600/4, 135/2, 180 macro, Zeiss wide, /etc., TSE's, TCs,  couple zooms, macro stage, Wimberly head,...i.e., top class, full range set-up. Additional latest-greatest large-screen display also part of "the plan". I have saved for these.

I notice your computer/calibrator, PS, mounting/framing equipment, etc.,  were all "approximately" free.

Edmund, printer space is no issue (20+ acres in Oregon), ...but the hassle thing is combined with the monetary thing.

I suppose that my main point is this one: All other costs aside, my real main anticipated aggravaton is the printer clog/purge ink situation, which limits my freedom to choose how much/often to print without penalty. I want to photograph/print when I want to, ...not when I "should", or "must", because some device is patting its foot. (Really now,...is everything too much to ask?

Anyhow, it frosts me to think of a machine sitting there saying "Use me THIS much, in THIS way, WHEN I say, or I will throw away all this expensive ink!" "...and I may throw it away no matter how/when you DO use me (clogging/cleaning)".

Yeah, I know, I have to put fresh gas in my chain-saw(or diesel in the tractor) after it sits for a season,...but we're only talkin a couple of bucks. And when I pull it, it starts, and it cuts! Simple.

Hey, Mr. Machine...maybe photograpic printing is NOT my first priority this week (or month(s). My obsessiveness is "partitioned",... perhaps there's not enough in this one category to make the trouble/expense worthwhile.

Simple fact is that probably I would need to be more of a devotee to warrant equipping at this level.
 
I can live with that. (Remember, I said my OP was a reality-check.)

But still, it WOULD be fun.  

In case anyone wonders, I know that rationality is out of place when it comes to "fun". There's no way to make bookeeping or time-management sense of what that hunter or fisherman pays for his deer or his fish! I guess each of us defines his own limits.
Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 7789



WWW
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2006, 04:25:27 PM »
ReplyReply

As a 67-year-old "advanced amateur" who expects to work seriously at this for at least another 10 to 20 years (my father died at 90 but my mother is still going strong at 95), I think I understand your dilemma. I went over to the Dark Side (i.e., went digital) about two years ago, and from my experience Jack Flesher's analysis is right on target.

I would add a P.S. to what Jack says, however. For the first year you should expect to spend a lot of time learning PhotoShop and reading the tutorials on this website and others. Also, unless you are planning to do exclusively black and white, you will need to learn about Color Management.

Until you learn how to relate what you see on your computer screen (using PhotoShop's "Proof Colors") to what your printer gets you, I suggest practicing with letter-size (8.5x11") prints using, at first, an Epson paper like Enhanced Matte (for matte surface prints using MK ink) or Premium Luster (for a glossier surface using PK inks).

I started with a Canon 10D and have recently upgraded to a 5D. I see no reason to get a 1-series or medium format camera/back. My printer is an Epson 2200 (which limits me to a maximum print size of 13x19" and uses Epson's older K2 inks), and when it dies (but not before), I will probably upgrade to the 3800.

I have a lovely, well-equipped darkroom that has gathered dust for the past year and a half. For a few months before that, I went back and forth between film and digital (whie learning the rudiments of PhotoShop.) But now I'm having so much fun and getting such good results that there's no way I'll ever go back.

I hope this helps.
Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
ericstaud
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 384


WWW
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2006, 04:34:39 PM »
ReplyReply

I think in a new system of that complexity.... i.e.:  NEW EVERYTHING..., ink clogging will not rise to the surface as one of the main pain points.

Choosing and learning to use RAW converters is time consuming and full of compromises.  Cataloging your images is also very important, as is creating back-up routines.

Add to your system a few new books...
-The DAM Book
-Real World Camera Raw with Adobe Photoshop CS2
-Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2
-Real World Color Management, Second Edition

And maybe budget to go to some workshops.  Having contact with others using similar cameras, computers, software, and printers can be invaluable to keep you on track, and sane.

The 3800 is a great printer (I have one, no clogs yet... but we'll see what happens when I get back home from the holiday).  If you are not happy with yours, you can take your chainsaw to it when the next best thing comes out

I think you'll not need the chainsaw though.
Logged
Geoff Wittig
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1017


« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2006, 04:56:12 PM »
ReplyReply

I went whole-heartedly into digital printing circa 1994 after years of frustration with "custom" labs that couldn't produce a competent print. This initially meant scanning 35 mm slides with a primitive film scanner, and making early inkjet prints that seemed to fade before you could pin them on the wall. Certainly there have been a few frustrating twists & turns along the way, but it's been a source of immense satisfaction and my print sales now pretty much cover my ongoing photography expenses. I have been printing for >3 years now on the same Epson 7600, with consistently excellent results. After a few months of experimentation getting the workflow nailed down, it's been as reliable as a refrigerator or washing machine.

I have never—not once—experienced a clogged head with this machine. I suspect that this is because I live in the soggy Great Lakes region, where the ambient humidity is high enough to keep ink from drying in the Epson's nozzles. My anecdotal impression is that many folks complaining about head clogs live in much drier climes, like the American southwest. If you live in western Oregon, perhaps your experience will be as positive as mine.
Logged
fdwil111
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1


« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2006, 04:56:15 PM »
ReplyReply

I'm of similar age and I also have diverse interests. My money supply would allow purchase of some nice toys but I want to be sure these are wise purchases and will meet my needs/wishes for a number of years.

So far, I have separated the capture from the printing and retained and still use my film cameras. I purchased a fine, but expensive, film scanner, excellent computer with a great monitor and I started with the Epson 2200 printer. I do have lots of experience in my own color darkroom and I learned high quality digital printing quickly. The siren of seduction to buy the latest, greatest OS for my computer; to update my version of Photoshop; and of course to get the better and larger K3, or other printer, is constantly there, but I've resisted so far, mainly because I'm doing this as a hobby and I'm actually quite satisfied with my printing.  

I believe you must factor into your decision how much you will enjoy learning how to use the toys you decide to buy. A new digital camera; Photoshop or some other editing program, getting your computer/monitor to properly direct your printer to give you what you see on your screen, paper selection, etc. can be overwhelming to many if you're trying to learn these all at once. It can destroy the pleasure we get from this activity.

Can you separate the purchase of new components, so that you will more "rapidly" achieve success and pride of accomplishment with each of them? I believe this is a great way to avoid mediocrity and eventually end up working at the highest level of quality.

I hope these remarks are of some help, and nothing I've said is intended to discorage you from jumping into the digital pool.
Logged
Jack Flesher
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2595



WWW
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2006, 05:52:03 PM »
ReplyReply

I guess I assumed you already owned the lenses you might want since you already shoot film and also assumed you owned a computer since you posted here

I think the points made regarding the learning curve out are very valid -- my bad for forgetting about that.  There is easily a good 6 months to a year of learning there, but you can become "print proficient" with a few simple lessons.

As respects Epson printers and clogs...  I have owned, 7600, 9600, 4800 and still own 7800 and 3800 printers.  Out of all of those, the only one that clogged significantly was the 4800 -- and from what I've learned since, it must have been defective or had a bad cartridge.  If my printer sits for more than a week unused, I simply run the basic nozzle check (this uses a trivial amount of ink) before a print run.  If there is a clog, which is rarely the case, I'll do the regular head cleaning which usually clears that. This does burn some ink, but the amounts would be covered in my example above I think.

In the end, I think like with any other hobby each individual needs to evaluate their overall level of commitment to photography and then establish a budget appropriate to that.  And obviously this can range from mild to wild, but in the end, doing digital capture and output yourself is going to be cheaper than other options for most people...  

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 05:53:35 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

andrewshults
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 5


« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2006, 07:07:26 PM »
ReplyReply

I decided to get into printing at home when I started doing more large black and white printing. When I was doing 8x10 color prints, I found that sending my files away to get printed tended to yield results I was happy with. But once I started doing black and white, I found it harder to get prints that looked like I wanted the first time (and with the cost of large prints, plus the waiting time it was a very frustrating). The concern about clogs (and its lack of roll feeder) was one of the reasons I didn’t go for the Epson 3800 (they may prove to be unsubstantiated but that will take a while to prove). Instead I bought a Canon iPF5000 from Jim at Shades of Color. My printing needs aren’t terribly high volume, but more importantly it’s sporadic. I might go a few weeks without making any prints and then make 20 prints in one day, so if I need to unclog the printer each time I do a large job it’s going to add up. The lower ink usage of the Canon, coupled with its wider gamut and ability to use roll paper for the same price as the 3800 made it the winner in the end. However, it is important to know that the Canon’s interface is quite a bit rougher than the Epson one. It’s been better documented by users now, but still has quite a few features that aren’t fully understood.
Logged
Jack Flesher
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2595



WWW
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2006, 07:27:00 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
The lower ink usage of the Canon, coupled with its wider gamut and ability to use roll paper for the same price as the 3800 made it the winner in the end. [a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=92434\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Just to be clear, I believe the Canon gamut is larger only at the saturated end of the spectrum, while the Epson K3 gamut is actually larger at the light end, primarily in the yellows, reds and blues.  These differences are probably only academic for the most part anyway...

Cheers,
« Last Edit: December 26, 2006, 07:28:39 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

andrewshults
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 5


« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2006, 07:54:46 PM »
ReplyReply

Quote
Just to be clear, I believe the Canon gamut is larger only at the saturated end of the spectrum, while the Epson K3 gamut is actually larger at the light end, primarily in the yellows, reds and blues.  These differences are probably only academic for the most part anyway...

Cheers,
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

From the [a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/reviews/printers/canon-ipf5000.shtml]LL[/url] review.

Quote
The gamut plots above tell the story. The solid plot is the Epson 4800 inkset, while the wireframe outline is that of the iPF5000. While there are several areas where the Epson has a somewhat wider gamut than the Canon, such as the light yellows, light blues, and light reds, in most of the rest, especially with saturated colours, the iPF5000 offers a wider gamut. This is of more than academic interest, and can be clearly seen in some prints. It is especially noticeable in the blues.

For me, the places where Canon had the larger gamut are of more concern to me; in particular the “truer” and more saturated blues (I do quite a bit of surf photography in the summer) as well as the deeper blacks (DMax of 2.5 on Innova FibaPrint). It wasn’t a make or break deal (the $75 worth of ink that the 4800 wastes was a deal breaker) but it was a nice plus. In most prints (and if you use matte paper it will show up even less) the extra gamut of either system won't be noticeable.
Logged
Pages: [1]   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad