You have two different options when it comes to producing digital color photo’s: (a) your own inkjet or digital color printer or (b) an online photo prints service. There are advantages to both choices of photo printing. The key is to choose the factor most important to you – quality, convenience, and cost.
At Home Photo Printing
For around $200 – $400, you can purchase a decent inkjet photo printer online from HP, Canon, or many others. In addition to the initial purchase, you need to invest in ink and a photo-rated gloss or matte paper stock. It is difficult to ever come up with a true per print cost as you would find in online print services. Based on recent testing from numerous studies, prints can cost anywhere from 28 to over 50 cents per copy dependent upon the type of ink and quality of paper and efficiency of the printer used (price does not include printer).
The quality of home prints is most likely comparable, if not just as good, as the prints you would get from an online service. However, some tests suggest that cheap paper and inks will fade in short time. The higher resolution of your printer and images, the greater detail you will get in your prints.
Costs aside, there are certainly advantages to printing your own photo prints. Convenience of having the prints on-demand within minutes if not seconds can be beneficial dependent upon your needs. You also have much more control over the color and look of your pictures by instant trial and error.
Online Photo Prints
Without the same investment of a physical printer, you could print about 3,000 4″ x 6″ prints. The only costs to you are prints and shipping. These costs will vary from service to service. When pricing online photo prints, it helps to know how many prints you will be ordering since many photo prints services discount print costs as your order volume gets higher. Currently, the price per photo print for a standard 4″ x 6″ is as low as 9 cents at Snapfish.com or PhotoWorks.com.
A great feature to many online photo print services is the ability to store and share your images with others on the internet. When ordering prints, your images will need to be uploaded to a server. In this same step, your pictures are organized and hosted. Additionally, if you have friends and family interested in your pictures, they can easily create their own account and order your pictures for themselves. This saves you some money right there!
Best of Both Worlds
When looking for a new home office printer, spend a little extra and grab a color photo printer. When printing emails and documents, you can print black only, saving your color ink for photos. This gives you the convenience of having prints when you want them and save a little bit on 8 x 10 prints when compared to online prices. However, when you have more than just a few pictures (after the family vacation) or ones you would like to share with others, try an online service.
Christian Collard is the Publisher of PrintedProof.com and an expert in printing solutions. Check out his website at http://www.printedproof.com for the latest reviews, tips, and discounts in online printing and photo printing services.