Hardcopy (Prints)

For my own photography customers only, I offer prints at competitive prices. For an 8x10, I charge $4.00. 4x6 prints are not very economical because of the cost of Epson's media. I'll offer then for $1.00, and they make handy proofs, but if you want them in quantity, try going through one of the places that do them commercially. Many places on the web now have first-time order specials and give you a bunch of prints.

Price comparison

Company 4x6 print 8x10 print Minimum DPI
Dale Labs $0.75 $6.50 optical, $7.75 digital ?
Seattle Film Works/Photoworks $0.25 $1.95 ?
Wolf Camera $0.55 $6.65 128
Yahoo Photos / Shutterfly $0.49 $2.99 200
Ophoto $0.49 $2.99 150
Photoaccess $0.45 $2.95 or $3.39 128 for "Slight pixelation detectable upon close inspection"
Me $1.00 $4.00 <100, depending on image.

According to Shutterfly's Information, pictures are simply stretched so that you see little blocks if the photo isn't 1600x1200 or higher. A full-frame digital picture will be OK (meets their minimum recommendations), but if it's cropped, it will look blocky. I use more advanced techniques and hand retouching, and my 8x10 prints are much better. Wolf's and Ophoto's recommendations are lower, but they make no statement about what happens if you don't meet them. Photoaccess gives a more detailed chart about what results you can expect from different resolutions. The implication is that again, you see pixels rather than just a general lack of definition.

In my portfolio, I have good-looking prints made with as little as 96.5 dpi, which is an 8x10 made from just the center cropped out of a digital photo.

As I get samples from these companies, I'll post quality comparisons.

Sizes and Aspect

Most commercial printmakers (Photoaccess seems to be an exception, but charges extra) will insist that you crop the image so it has the same aspect ratio as the paper, and they won't leave margins or borders. As an artist, I know that 8x10 is not a fundamental constant of nature, and good composition might give you a perfect square instead, or some odd size. I print the size the images really are. Also, a border around the page might give a better presentation. For example, a 6.5 inch tall print will leave one inch margins on an 8.5 inch page.

Other Sizes

My printer can handle up to 13x19. A digital picture doesn't have enough definition to print this large. Neither does a 35mm negative, for that matter. But hanging on a wall, where it is not seen from up close, it works just fine. The other thing you can do on a large sheet is a photo montage.

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