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Data Storage Printer Technology

Ask Slashdot: Best Option For Printing Digital Photos? 350

rrossman2 writes "With the birth of our son (who is now just over two), we have snapped and accumulated a ton of pictures — on Panoramio, Picasa, Facebook, etc. What is the best option for bulk printing the photos to a physical format? We all know how fast technology advances, as well as how fast sites come and go; I want a way to have these pictures for my son when he is older... just like my grandfather has photos of himself from World War II, my parents have photos of me when I was little, etc. Are there any affordable services that you can upload the photos to that print and deliver long-lasting pictures? How well do today's photo ink jets last, and what's the best type of paper? I do have a cheaper Samsung color laser printer, but color lasers don't make the most color-rich prints, and using normal photo paper you can find in big box stores doesn't work out too well, as the laser toner seems to peel off on the rollers and gum things up. (Is there a good long lasting paper that seems to work well with laser printers?) I can see what's going to happen in the future: all of the digital photos people take now are going to either end up on a website that won't be around in 20+ years, or get stuck on disks or flash memory that won't last, or for which interfacing with the media will become difficult or impossible."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Option For Printing Digital Photos?

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  • Don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Egg Sniper ( 647211 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:20PM (#39930163)
    If your son is two now the first thing they'd do as an adult presented with these old pictures is get online to find out what scanner to use to best get them into digital format where they belong.
  • by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:24PM (#39930231)

    If you're leaving your photos on flash-cards and websites in the first place, then that's your fundamental problem.

    Save them to (redundant) disk locally, then commit them to a cloud backup service.

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by berryjw ( 1071694 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:30PM (#39930343)
    I can't see the point of this. People no longer keep horses for transportation, we hardly write things down (I've seen graduate research indicating handwriting is ceasing to be relevant), even our books are moving to digital. The proper question would be, "What is the most reliable storage medium for my digital photographs, assuming I need to access them in twenty years?"
  • Re:Don't (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:30PM (#39930345)

    Why does it have to be either/or? Give him both digital and printed.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:30PM (#39930349) Homepage

    I get mine done at Costco. Cheaper and better than any printer you can buy.

    This, or something like this is what I was going to say.

    The photos printed from an actual photolab from your digital images are better quality, cheaper, and since they're not on ink-jet ink they don't tend to fade as much.

    I concluded several years ago you can't really efficiently buy the ink, paper, and printer to do this on your own. It's just not cost effective. In the long run (and possibly the short run) it's more work and more cost for less overall quality.

    Every year for Christmas, the wife prints out a stack of photos I've taken of the family over the last year, and gives them to her grandmother -- grandma loves the pictures and is far more interested in those than anything else.

    Wal Mart, Costco, a local photo/camera store ... all can do much better than you can do on your own.

  • by Relayman ( 1068986 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:30PM (#39930353)
    Many services compress the photos when uploaded. It's important to preserve a minimally-compressed version before uploading.
  • by Triv ( 181010 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:33PM (#39930385) Journal

    Not trolling, promise, but I've never understood why somebody would want to print a photo onto a canvas. They always end up looking chintzier than the original for the sake of the illusion of fine art.

    Is there something I'm missing?

  • Re:Don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:33PM (#39930397) Homepage Journal

    If your son is two now the first thing they'd do as an adult presented with these old pictures is get online to find out what scanner to use to best get them into digital format where they belong.

    Hahaha, this is right on the money. The first thing I thought of is "god, if only my parents had digital copies of all of those pictures they gave me"... Focus on finding a long lasting DIGITAL storage solution (there are plenty of ways to store things reliably) instead. Don't you dare get a stack of 4x6 prints that you can shove in the basement next to all of the ones you probably got from YOUR parents that are next to useless until you put weeks and weeks of work into scanning and retouching.

  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:37PM (#39930451)

    Another vote for Costco.

    Run up the numbers yourself per-print for a typical inkjet - look at the manufacturer's own figures for estimated cartridge life at 95% coverage, divide that by the cost for a full brace of cartridges and tack on the price for a sheet of photo quality paper.

    IME you'll find it usually comes out about the same, maybe slightly dearer than using a major photo processor. But that only tells you part of the story.

    It costs about the same provided you have a 0% waste rate and you ignore the cost of the printer and any associated items.

    That means no paper jams, no wastage from trial-and-error figuring out optimum settings, no discovering the hard way that colour temperature on screen and on paper are two different things, no ink wasted because you didn't use the printer for a week and it now needs to run a cleaning cycle.

    In the real world, you'll probably find this adds 20-30% to your costs. Obviously with practise you can reduce this, but even if you get it down to zero (never going to happen), it's still going to be at a photo finish between you and Costco. And Costco's machine can probably churn out 100 photos in the time it takes your printer to do 10.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:38PM (#39930457)

    Don't tell somebody what they should be asking. Why can't we just answer the asker's question?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:46PM (#39930597)

    It's simply a different medium. Paintings aren't always true to the original and can be done with oil, acrylic, watercolor, etc. Likewise, not every picture should be on glossy paper.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @02:10PM (#39930981)

    I do it sometimes when I turn photos into art using my drawing tab, ect. For instance, when my mother in laws dog died, I crafted a crappy photo into a nice fake portrait and had it printed up on canvas and framed for her. She was thrilled. Sure they're not paintings in the traditional sense, but they look better on canvas than on glossy paper. For unaltered photos, I would tend to agree with your sentiment.

  • Digital is forever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by patchmaster ( 463431 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:04PM (#39931933) Journal

    I recently went through several boxes of old family photos and digitized them. I learned a number of things in the process.

    There are/were vast differences in the quality and longevity of different photo printing methods. Most of the photos that were about 50 years old had faded and color shifted, each, it seems, in its own peculiar direction. Trying to bring them back to proper color was a nightmare, not made easier by my lack of skill with Gimp. But some of the photos from 50 years ago looked like they might have been printed last week. The colors were still vivid. I have no idea what process was used on any of these prints, but it was very clear the process makes a world of difference.

    Whatever you decide to do with the prints, I strongly recommend getting some archival quality sleeves to individually store them. Even if you then put them in an album, put them first in archival sleeves. The prints will be protected and will never again be exposed to fingerprints. They won't get scratched. They'll be reasonably well protected against UV fading. Then lock it all in a light-proof vault. Light is the mortal enemy of photo prints and even good quality UV protection will still allow some small amount of UV to penetrate. Keep the prints in a tightly sealed box and you should have few problems with fading.

    Honestly, though, if you really care about preserving these for posterity, just keep them digital and use some kind of offsite backup. Know going in that you'll probably have to move them around several times over the years as companies come and go and technology changes. You may well have to convert them to different formats at more than one point. But the digital copy is almost certainly going to be more flexible and of better quality than any print.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @03:38PM (#39932421)
    Correct. Printing at home should be reserved for photos that you would not want anyone else to see. If the photo isn't private. Get it done with quality equipment.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor