Print From Home or Print On Demand?

papel continuo powa!
Creative Commons License photo credit: *manci*

I’ve mentioned a few times that I use ImageKind to sell unsigned reprints of my photos. But I also use their service to print things for myself. I can get larger prints (I typically only buy 16″ prints for my portfolio and wall hangings) at a much higher quality (and on an exceptional choice of papers) for a decent price. In the past, I’ve printed using my own inkjet printer at home. This is fine for the small stuff like photo albums, but the quality isn’t there at the larger sizes unless you spend a pretty penny on the equipment.

So my question this week is aimed at your printing habits. For the personal stuff that’s larger than 4×6 prints, do you print yourself or do you use an online print on demand service (POD)? Or maybe you have a local POD service? I guess I should also mention that I’m talking about digital printing. Cast your vote and leave a comment on the specifics — printer models for the DIY-ers, websites for the online POD-ers, or business names for the offline POD-ers.


And check out the last poll (or vote if you missed it) having to do with our next project here on the blog. It looks like it could be a toss-up because there were quite a few compelling comments too. Once we finish reviewing the Fine Art Photoblog portfolios and announce the winner, I’ll probably have the time to organize the project… plus I’m waiting to hear from a potential sponsor on one of them.

17 thoughts on “Print From Home or Print On Demand?

  1. Gil Maker

    I do all my own printing at home. The print is the outcome of all my work. By printing at home I control the whole process, whether the outcome is good or bad.


  2. Iceman

    I have used both offline and online POD services.

    I’ve never been a fan of home printing. To be blunt, I’m a photographer — not a printer and when I want something done I want it done professionally. If the service is good, you’ll be able to tell in the finished quality.

    I’ve used ImageKind in the past (both for personal use and when selling unsigned prints) and have been pleased with their results.

  3. Ed Z

    I’ve actually been going back and forth on this issue. Right now I do most of my own prints – up to 13″x19″ (my preferred print size), using POD only for books and large prints. However, I’m debating whether it might even be more economical to do POD for everything. (ink&inknet paper are *expensive*)

  4. Kimberly

    I’m an archivist by trade. I deal with the preservation of printed media (and some artifacts) on a daily basis. I’ve seen first hand what low quality paper and ink can do to photographs. That being said, I’m extremely unimpressed with the affordable print-at-home options that are available to the average consumer. For that reason, I only use online or local POD. Photographs are memories and they should be preserved using the best quality resources available.

  5. Aaron Boot

    Here is a great site for the online PODers-

    They are a local place and are very affordable. Not only this, there costumer service is outstanding. They truly go out of their way to be sure you’re happy… they’ve called me before just to make sure that they had my order correct! Click on the ‘service’ link and look at all they have to offer.

  6. Bill Webb

    I use Mpix and have been very pleased and impressed. Quality is really good and turn-around time is excellent. Packaging is better than I’ve seen with any other printer.

    Another printer source for me is Costco. I have downloaded profiles for each of the printers and paper types in use at the Costco near me. Here, too, quality is good but I give the nod to Mpix.

  7. Janne

    I don’t print, by and large. I don’t want to hang my pictures at home, and when we want to send pictures to friends and relatives email trumps the mail every time. The few times we have printed (to give pictures to someone) we just went to the local lab and asked for prints.

  8. the_wolf_brigade

    Most of the time I support local businesses when I want some prints, but the recent offers by Snapfish (a POD?) were too good to pass up. I’ve got some 4×6 and an 8×12 on the way now. Providing the quality is good, I’ll be using them a lot more.

    I like tangible items. It goes hand in hand with film :)

  9. libeco

    The problem for me is that I don’t print as much as I should, but when I print, I do it at home. When I bought my camera I got a coupon for 10 free A3 prints at that shop. The result was not that good.

    When I print at home on my Canon Pixma IP4500 I use A4 glossy photopaper (I usually just buy cheap bundles at the local supermarket). The paper is usually somewhere in the range of 180 grams/m2 to 240 grams/m2 and costs about €5.

    The result is absolutely fantastic. Although I never calibrated the printer (I do use Canon ink because my last Epson printer with other brand ink totally screwed up the colors) the colors are almost exactly the same as on the screen (as far as possible with the colors on white and colors on black difference). Best of all: printing an A4 at the highest quality takes less than two minutes.

  10. Tim Solley

    I currently have prints made for me. However, soon I’ll be buying a professional printer and will be doing all my own prints except for the really large stuff.

  11. Lisa

    We have a local printer that we go to for everything, by bulk. We should do it more often. So many photos wasting away in our hard drives. Tsk.

  12. Aaron Boot

    That’s great Scott! I use an Epson R2400 and was always searching for a good place that delivered me the same quality in larger sizes. I will definetely check them out.

  13. Scott Ward

    American Frame did not supply me with the ICC profiles for their printer and paper, but they told me what Epson printer they use and so it was easy enough to find the correct profiles on Epson’s website.

    I have been extremely satisfied with what I am getting, plus if you buy the matte and frame, they will matte and frame it for you for free.

    I also order all my framing material through them.

  14. jim

    I do both home and online pod if I really want quality then I’ll go online. If not i’ll do it from home.
    It’s a matter of priorities

  15. Stephen Bolts

    I do a bit of both – print at home for my family photos, and POD for work stuff that needs to have that extra sheen.

    But then, I’m hopeless with Photoshop, so I would say that!

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