Outsourcing Your Printing Needs
You don't have to own a printer or go through the hassle of getting a print just right. If you don't need to do a lot of printing on a regular basis, buying a printer is probably not a good idea. For a variety of reasons, a minilab or online photo lab might make more sense than purchasing another piece of equipment that you have to keep track of.
When you do the math for both time and money, you may decide that outsourcing your printing jobs is the way to go. Consider the following points:
Photo labs print more than half of all digital photographs today.
A lab can charge as little as 10 cents for a 4″ × 6″ print while the average cost for a DIY print is 40 cents.
Large 8″ × 10″ prints can cost about the same as DIY prints, and the quality may be much better.
Printing your own takes time, more than two minutes on average for small prints and as much as twelve minutes for larger prints.
A good lab will have much better equipment than you could ever afford, and its equipment is well maintained.
You can schedule your prints to be processed so that it takes almost no time out of your schedule.
You can avoid all the problems of buying a color printer and stocking supplies for it.
You can often attach your photos to an e-mail that you send to a local business. Later you can pick up your prints at your convenience or when you run your errands.
Wal-Mart and Walgreens and other such places offer comprehensive ser-vices for printing family snapshots and basic enlargements. You can usually bring a CD or a memory card to the printer. Typically, you insert the card or CD into a kiosk-type display and a touch screen walks you through the process. If you use the minilab service at these places, prints usually cost more and they can take up to an hour to process, but the quality is often better than a kiosk.
Copy centers and office supply stores such as Staples may offer more sophisticated printing with larger sizes, a variety of papers, and better quality.
Take time to correct, edit, and crop your pictures with your photo editing software. Then burn a CD or put your photos on a memory card that you take to a lab. This gives you the best of both worlds: You have total control over the look of your pictures and you avoid problems involved with doing your own printing.
Other services, such as Adorama (