10 things to watch out for

Speed, cost and other vari­ables will all af­fect which print­ing op­tion is the best for your needs

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

1 In­stant hit

With de­liv­ery times from labs tak­ing any­thing from a day to a week or more, inkjet print­ing at home gives more im­me­di­ate re­sults and is use­ful if you regularly need prints at short no­tice.

2 High speed

The type of ink also af­fects how fast prints are pro­duced. Dye-based inkjet print­ers are usu­ally about twice as fast as their pig­ment-based cousins, as demon­strated by the Canon and Ep­son mod­els on test.

3 Con­sum­able costs

While it’s hard to cal­cu­late ex­actly, photo prints cre­ated on a home inkjet printer tend to av­er­age about £1.50 ($2) for A4 and £5 ($7) for A3+. That in­cludes the ink and pa­per, but not the price of the printer it­self.

4 Lab costs

12x8-inch (roughly A4) lab prints from the com­pa­nies in­cluded here range from £2.30 to £8.95 ($2.50 to $3.80 in the US), while 18x12-inch (roughly A3) prints cost from £5.18 to £9.95 ($5.58 to $6.30, US), not in­clud­ing postage.

5 Streaky prints

Photo prints from inkjet print­ers can be ru­ined if there are blocked noz­zles in the print head, so it’s worth run­ning a noz­zle check be­fore cre­at­ing large-for­mat prints – it’ll save you wast­ing ex­pen­sive ink and pa­per.

6 Re­pair and re­new

When us­ing a lab for your photo prints, you don’t need to worry about the cost of re­pair­ing or re­plac­ing a home printer if it be­comes faulty.

7 Tax­ing busi­ness

Some pro labs quote prices that don’t in­clude VAT in their price lists, so this isn’t added un­til the fi­nal bill.

8 Photo fin­ish

Photo labs of­ten give you the choice of or­der­ing prints on dif­fer­ent makes and fin­ishes of pa­per. At home you’d have to buy spe­cial­ist pa­per by the pack, even if you only wanted to use a cou­ple of sheets for spe­cial prints.

9 Pro qual­ity

As well as con­ven­tional sil­ver halide, most labs also of­fer gi­clée (pro-qual­ity inkjet) prints on a wide range of media.

10 Spe­cial­ist media

When us­ing up­mar­ket labs, yet more print­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties in­clude trans­fer­ring your im­ages to more spe­cial­ist media like acrylic and alu­minium.

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