20131230-Printing-001I am not convinced of printing photos at home. I found it complicated, inaccurate, time-consuming and sometimes even frustrating. Keep in mind – that is my personal opinion, I am not ranting against a certain brand or product, I am just explaining why printing images did not work out for me very well.  You may have other experiences – if so please share them in the comment section !

I own a photo printer (which can also scan, copy and print documents) for about three years now. Picky as I am I chose not the cheapest model but a more sophisticated one from a reputable manufacturer with WiFi, touchscreen and five ink cartridges (black for photo, magenta, cyan, yellow and black for documents). I do not print tons of images or documents, but the printer has been used at least once or perhaps twice a week. And here is why I am frustrated.

The ink cartridges have exactly two operational states: Empty and nearly empty. It is a bottomless hole to bury money in. The cheapest (original) cartridges are 24,50 € for four cartridges (black, cyan, magenta, yellow), but you can also spend 85 € on a five-cartridge “XL” package. Unfortunately I never counted how many prints I can make on a set of cartridges, so I can’t compare the prices to a printing service. But my gut feeling is that professional printing services are much cheaper and – that is for sure – they don’t give you a hassle like battling your own printer. Which leads me to the next point.

The photo paper tray always made problems feeding the sheets. When printing an image the photo tray is pulled into the machine and after the print job the tray returns to its original position. But what did I get ? Frequent jams. The tray goes in but can’t return. Once it jammed so hard I had to exert a little force to unblock the tray. In a nearly comical fashion a little spring and a plastic part flew by my face in slow-motion. I have absolutely no idea where these parts belong, so I could not place them back into the printer. The photo paper tray can still feed the paper, but I have to return the tray manually.

The accuracy of the prints also is annoying. I had countless images which are tilted since the photo paper was not fed correctly aligned. The image borders are also printed with quite some tolerances. Suddenly the foot of your subject is cut off if, on the computer screen, the subject is close to the border.

I can only remember a few prints when I clicked the button in Lightroom and the photo came out of the printer with everything being ok. Usually I have to print multiple times before the image is ok. What a nuisance.

Bottom line – I find printing images at home costly, time-consuming and frustrating. As a consequence I only print images with professional printing services. You might not have complete control over the colors and exposure as a calibrated print at home would have, but since I do not own a printer calibration device it does not make a difference for me.

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