Seek help vs DIY printing

Monday, May 26, 2003
The Orange County Register


Seek help


Three years ago, Mitch Goldstone, president of 30 Minute Photos in Irvine, added a digital-photo center to his photo store. About 1 percent of sales were digital-related that year. Today, nearly every order has some digital aspect from film users opting for a CD archive of prints to customers uploading images to the store’s Web site,, to pick up prints during their lunch hour.

“Everyone wanted to become a hobbyist and set up digital darkrooms in their bedrooms,” Goldstone said. “But by round two or three, they got frustrated printing out their own pictures. So now, they go online or bring in their memory cards.”

Stores like Wal-Mart and Target now offer digital-photo kiosks for customers who want to do almost everything themselves. And online sites, such as or Kodak’s, offer online uploading and snail-mail delivery of prints. Experts recommend that you go to a professional developer for prints you want to keep forever. Ink-jet photos suffer from non-archival inks and paper.

DIY printing


A picture printed on regular paper is adequate for many people until you see how professional your own photos can look on glossy photo paper and a special photo printer.

On a test of the $249 Canon i950 printer, I printed an 8-by-10-inch close-up of an Indian paintbrush wildflower shot with a 3.2-megapixel Nikon Coolpix. I can’t imagine how it could be clearer. It captured an insect’s antenna, plus cobwebs on the petals.

But ink-jet ink, as most know, is pricey. Canon’s answer was to separate the colors of ink into individual cartridges, as opposed to bundling colors in one cartridge. While Canon’s solution is handy if you are, for example, an ocean photographer and use more blue than red and yellow, you end up paying $12 per cartridge. One plus for the i950: After printing out about 100 large photos, ink levels were more than half full. For paper, expect to pay 25 cents to $1 per sheet of glossy paper, or 10 cents for matte paper, which offers the same quality look, sans shine.

The benefit, of course, is that you can do all your development at home. You can edit and print photos instantly. Unless you run out of ink in the middle of the night.

Tips from the pros


Auto focus by gently pressing shutter button down halfway.

Take multiple photos of the same image. There’s a better chance you’ll get a magnificent photo, plus you can always delete the ones you don’t like.

Read the manual. I hate doing that, but five months into digital-camera ownership, I discovered that my camera has a “continuous shooting” mode to take multiple pictures.

Don’t depend on your shaky hands. If you’re taking wildlife pictures or family portraits, use a tripod.

Look for backgrounds that aren’t distracting. Don’t take photos facing the sun or use a flash.

Backup your photo collection by copying images from camera to computer and then to CD for long-term storage. If you’re on the go, one way to store photos is on devices such as I/O Magic’s “Digital Photo Library” or Vosonic’s X-Drive, which combine a 20GB mini-hard drive with a 6-in-1 memory-card reader.

Article originally published on, link no longer available