So It Turns Out Print Quality Really Does Matter

I admit it. I am a bargain shopper. If I have a free day all to myself, you will usually find me second-hand shopping looking for great deals. If there’s a way to save money, I will usually choose to do so.

But I think I’m finally starting to learn that there is some truth to the saying “You get what you pay for.” This winter I had two things happen that drove this point home for me when it comes to printing photos.

Before I deliver a gallery to my clients I always print several images from the session to double check that the colors and tones I’m seeing on my screen are what the client will see when they have the images printed. I use a Canon printer that does a great job, especially considering it’s a regular home printer. The downside of this printer is the ink cartridges cost what I consider to be a whole lot of money. When I found out that Costco refills ink cartridges for less than half the cost I pay for new cartridges, I started taking my cartridges there to be refilled. (Obviously.) We really like Costco and think they offer quality products.

So I was surprised when I printed some photos from a session with the newly refilled ink cartridges from Costco and found that the pictures did not look like what I was seeing on my screen. They looked quite faded. At first I wasn’t sure what was causing the problem, but I finally decided to print an image that I already had printed with the previous original Canon cartridges and compare the two images. This is what I saw.

The photo on the left was printed with regular (straight-out-of-the-box) Canon ink cartridges. The photo on the right was printed with Canon ink cartridges after they had been refilled. Notice how the image on the right seems faded and not as vibrant. Also, look at how the skin tones on the left look better. In the photo on the right the skin looks almost gray or washed out. (Remember this is the EXACT same image. The only difference is the quality of the ink cartridges used to print it.)

Once I realized that it was the new (refilled) ink cartridges that were causing this, I decided to return them and promptly bought more brand new Canon ink cartridges. Sorry, Costco. We still love you.

The second thing that reminded me of the importance of print quality was when I ordered prints to give as gifts for Christmas. I could have just printed the images on my home printer, but I ordered them through the professional lab I use instead. When I received the prints, I compared them to prints of the same images that I had printed on my Canon printer and the difference was remarkable. The prints that came from the lab not only looked more vibrant and crisp, but they felt like a work of art. The quality of the paper and printing was evident. They felt like something that should be cherished and will last a very long time.

So as much as I like to save money, when I want beautiful, quality prints I now order through a professional lab. I also offer my clients the option to order prints, canvases and metal prints through the professional lab that I use. It’s not required to order through this lab, but if you’re thinking of having your images printed professionally I highly recommend this option. Their image quality is great and their customer service has been fantastic.

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