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Do most of you order your prints from an online print service, or use a local store (ie walmart cvs walmart target)? Or have you invested in a printer? I normally print my stuff at a newer walgreens. One reason is I am not that consistent yet with quality of photos. There be little details that I overlook from time to time. Others do not see them, but after really critiquing I see them.

I use an Epson 1400 (one of the best and most reliable....and won't break the bank. I use the prof grade Studio Gloss(actually a textured semi gloss) from Kodak....15 weight....nice thickness....Epson makes a nice prof semi gloss too....my printer actually seems to know how to make it better than what is on the screen....I also use Huey Pro software to keep my colors true....and two monitors....one is greater at color matching....my larger one great for editing the details.....hint....when viewing an image on a screen...by the nature of the emitting light...images will appear lighter and brighter than they do coming off of a printer....so I usually give a slight bit more contrast and lightness to the image before I print...and that takes care of most differences.
Forgot another hint...some printer have an enhanced printing command...this usually is a good idea...but sometimes when printing a softer image...it may try to sharpen the image too much or saturate too much....try printing both ways on a decent quality but not your most expensive paper...then you can see which way works best for that image...paper texture and quality can also effect the final image....ive found that places like Office Depot and Office Max...also Best Buy...carry some of the papers I like....just not a large quantity....but they don't sell well to the general public...they often will put these papers on a really good sale about once a month....so I buy during these sales...other than wait until I need them and then have to pay full price....I just go in once a week to check for in store sales...it is often not promoted in their ads. Look for heavier weighted paper...if they don't put that info on the box...try looking it up online. Good coating and good and sturdy will make your images look more professional....save the every day paper for snapshots. Most formal portraits look best on a semi-gloss (or a pearl coating) rather than gloss or matte.
Good pointers. I never thought about semi and pearl. I always think about gloss and matte. I read about a lot of people and laptops. I have a difficult time editing on my gateway 15.4 inch laptop. I opt to use my desktop with a 22" screen. I thought I was the only one that did not like the smaller screen. I am going to have to look into the Epson.
They have newer models that I've heard great reviews on...but that Epson can still be bought for about $200....it was 500 when I bought it 2 years ago....it uses Claria Ink...which has 95 % the life span of the archival dye ink....the newer and a bit more expensive ones have switched to a dye...but for the cost difference in ink and dye....for now...I'm sticking with what is giving me fabulous. It does great on B&W too...now they have a couple os super new ones that use 3 different blacks to give some fantastic B/W prints is you need art gallery distinction....the ink in the epsons are sparing...but you do have to buy several different colors....but most page size prints with the cost of ink...cost you about $1.50 per print....for studio quality....that ain't bad at all.
The original poster asked where folks have their photos printed.  That begs a rather lengthy response....

There are MANY issues that must be taken into account when sending out for printing...not the least of which is the intended purpose of the final prints.  

If you are just printing 4X6's for stuffing in a shoebox or for a simple collage to hang on the wall, then the discount stores and pharmacies are fine. However, be aware that they are in the business of high volume, and use printing machines that automatically correct your images to what THEY think is appropriate, to include contrast, brightness, and hard sharpening.  They do not use archival inks or pigments, and therefore, you will see those pictures fade over time, especially if they are exposed to the elements. With rare exceptions, there is no human interaction in the process other than turning the printing machine on.

Now, if you want to have your photos professionally printed, you are going to pay a higher price, but the quality is going to be significantly higher. Additionally, you will generally get prints that will last for many, many years (Sometimes more than 100 without fading).

Additionally, choices of paper type are much more varied, AND you can get specific ICC profiles from a high quality printer that you plug into your computer for the printers and paper they are using in order to match what you see on your screen. Those outside printers also usually give you the option of additional post-processing if desired.. or will print your pics exactly as you send them.

A couple of very well known, and high quality printers are
http://www.bayphoto.com (I use them when I need outside printing)

These printing companies are heavily used by both pro's and amateurs when they want top quality. Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens, etc., are simply not of the same quality level.

If you decide to do your OWN printing, you again have choices to make. Those low cost "photo" printers are not going to give you anything more than what you would get from the chain stores. In order to print photos that will equal or exceed those of the professional printing companies, you will have to use printers that are designed for high-end photo printing, using archival inks or pigments, and are designed to work with software like Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture, or Elements...allowing those programs to control the color management, rather than the printer.

I happen to be a Canon aficionado, and think the best deal in the world right now for a highly functional and impressive ink printer is the Canon PixmaPro 9000mkII.  It uses eight ink cartridges to give a wide color gamut, and that ink will create very long lasting photos to sizes up to 13X19. The printer has been offered by Canon for a very low price if bought with a Canon camera, and a lot of people are taking advantage, then selling the printer separately. You can find unopened, new 9000's for less than $300 on Amazon and eBay as a result.  Replacing all the cartridges at one time will cost you about $85 (Amazon). This is a phenomenal printer for the price, and will give you years of service, and happy photos. It is a prosumer printer.
(I own one for printing 4X6's to 8X10's.)

Beyond that, I use a large format printer that uses archival pigment inks, and prints on rolls up to 24" wide... but that's a little different league than what you are asking.

The most important thing to consider beyond WHERE to print is to insure that what you see on your monitor matches what you get as a print, regardless of whether you print yourself, or send out.  That requires color and brightness calibration of your monitor that can only be effectively done using a calibration device. Those range from a low of just over $100, to well above $1000 depending on the amount of features required. In almost every instance, people have their monitor brightness set FAR TOO HIGH when processing photos. This results in prints that are much darker than what you saw on your screen, though the chain stores will increase brightness to what they think it should be... but it doesn't necessarily match what you expect.
Calibration devices are available on Amazon and elsewhere from companies including:

All in all, if you just want quick prints, and don't need super quality, then the chain stores will work for you just fine. BUT...if you want high quality work with a range of choices for final output, then go to one of the pro companies, or print yourself using a printer capable of wide color gamut, and archival inks or pigments.

Good luck.
I agree with everything you said....a lot of folks get freaked by having to buy more than 3 colors and a black cartridge....but if you want to fully appreciate the nuances of your images....get a good quality printer that is designed for image printing only. Mine uses the archival ink....am getting a pigment ink printer for my birthday...with more black ink choices....I can't stress getting devices and software for setting up your calibrations and color profiles....and use more than one monitor....because one will always be a better match with the printer for comparison than the other....like the above member said...initial start up with printer may be a bit of a pinch....but the later cost is reasonable...and your output is well worth it. An all in one printer is fine for text and simple image printing....not good for quality prints.....and I can't again stress what the right choice of paper can do for your special images.....another hint...if you don't use your printer every day....remove the inks after your runs and put the protective strips back on the cartridge heads....then close all the dust covers on the printer...mine will close up all openings..(if you are printing the next day...close up or cover the printer).....dust and ink....do not make for happy printing....
Michael92Gales Wrote:I usually get it printed from a local store, how does online print works?

First you choose your online store. Then find out what they'll print (formats etc) how much they cost, delivery method/time, in fact, try and obtain as much information as possible. They will require your uploads in a certain format.
I'd suggest you join some forums and find out which sites give best value for money and quality of printing. Folks on this forum will, no doubt, have some experience of online printing so will be able to recommend places you could try. Primarily, good research, although it takes time, can save you lots of stress and, of course, $$$$$
In-house printing is taken care of via a Canon Pixma Pro 9000 printer. With 8 tanks to feed, it's definitely not the least expensive option out there, but matches well with what I see on my MacBookPro laptop screen, and with my Apple 24" Cinema Display when I plug the laptop into that for editing.

My favorite place for large-scale printing (above 13" x 19"), I use Blue Cube Imaging. I've sent the same B/W image out to BayPhoto, Nations Photo, Blue Cube, and a couple of other print houses who "specialize" in B/W images. Blue Cube best matches EXACTLY what I see on my screens. The customer service is great, and it's supporting a small business, which is also important to me. I print my art prints nearly exclusively on metallic paper, and with the comparisons done, I prefer their printing quality.

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I used to use a print service for my best pictures or the prints I wanted to frame. But after looking at what I spent on this service a few years ago I decided to handle it myself. By using wireless printers I can have two printers, one printer is an everyday printer and the other is for photos only. After looking at what I spent on print services I decided to invest that money in a quality printer and ink which also saves money on gas so I figure I will be coming out ahead by the end of this year.
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