Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Just Print It!

A rainy afternoon with not a lot to do. Way too wet to go outside to take photos. So what to do? Make some prints of course!

I never really anticipated how much happiness I would get from printing photos I took on a decent quality printer. I've always owned "a printer" of course, and used it occasionally to make a print of my work, but the problem with a standard 3 colour plus black (CMYK) inkjet printer is they simply can't do the job of turning your photos into a final product. My purhase of a Canon Pixma Pro-100 has changed all that. The results I'm getting are so superb, I'm starting to fill my walls from top to bottom.

As we all do, I see tons of online discussion about what camera and lens you should be buying, and instructive articles and videos about how to use all this software that is now available for the "Digital Darkroom", but seldom do I see much in the way of using that software to best effect for print-making. Sure, when you Google the topic "digital printing" plenty shows up, but I'm talking about the content of general photography forums - aren't people printing their photos?

Perhaps people think spending $500 on a printer would take away too much from their $2000 lens budget? Well, let me put you onto a little secret - a print, done correctly, looks far better hanging on your wall than your digital file could ever look on even the best computer monitor. I smile now every time I walk past my quickly growing "collection" - especially knowing that I took many of these pictures with my $5.99 Pentax Zoom-90, or my $20.00 Canon EOS-650. A lot of them were taken with my EOS Digital SLR too. In fact, I find that printing can be a real equalizer in the film versus digital debate. When you print a digital picture with noise in it, the Pro-100 makes it look like film grain, and, given the knowledge that digital cameras cannot "catch light" in quite the same delightful way that film can - well, setting a photo up for printing usually involves a bit of brightening, so that "too bright" on the screen will likely be "just right" on the print. The 8 ink system used by the Pro-100 really helps this along by including four bright inks in addition to the standard CMYK, so that the brightness you've captured with a digital camera is "normalized" automatically by the printer, which I've found uses up the bright inks much faster than the normal ones.

What about cost? Well, I haven't worked it out exactly, but I will say that the large 13" X 19" paper is quite expensive; standard 8.5" X 11" Premium Glossy isn't too bad. I also bought some Inkjet Canvas, which is very expensive, but you don't need to go there - I just wanted to try it. And frames? Every one I've used so far I've bought at yard sales for an average of $1.00 each - always with glass included, and even some nice big ones with mats already built in. Document Frames are also available at Dollarama stores for $3.00, complete with glass.

The ink economy of the Pro-100 is surprisingly good. So far, after printing around 70 pictures of various sizes, using only the setup cartridges that come with the printer, which are less than half full, I've only had to replace two of the eight colours - the Grey and Light Grey. Each cartridge is about $18.00, so that's $36 spent in ink replacement; that averages out to about $0.50 per print.

So, it's like shooting film - there are some incremental costs involved, but the main point to make here is that a $500 printer purchase will do far more for your image quality than buying a $1500 premium zoom lens to replace that "kit lens" you might perceive as crappy. For beginners dvice I'd put it another way - you should upgrade your printer before you upgrade your camera's kit lens.

Don't forget to look at my Print Catalogue. You can reach me by email at

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