Printer/Scanner preferences.

We were thinking of getting a photo-quality printer with scanner, any suggestions?
Lady Fried is an old school 32mm and SLR fan and wants to scan and preserve old prints from her skilled and moving portfolio.
I use an HP color printer/scanner at work that is painfully slow but has fairly good photo quality. Yes, I have googled and shopped, but I want some first-hand use experience here.
What should I use to make data files and re-create photo quality prints that isn’t going to cost as much as my car?

I’m not a fan of using home printers for printing photos. None of the prints I’ve seen (and I have lots of photographer friends with home based professional printers) can match having your prints done at a lab. It’s my (uneducated) understanding that lab prints have the colors actually imbedded in the paper while printers coat the paper leaving the final product more likely to be damaged.

One of my favorite online labs is mpix.com. It may be a little more pricey than printing with a home printer, but it’s well worth the cost to me.

Ruby What do you mean by "have the colors actually imbedded in the paper while printers coat the paper leaving the final product more likely to be damaged.
"?
I’m looking to have realistic prints with no-fuss.
I admit ignorance. This is a B-Day thang…

It’s my understanding that prints made at a professional lab are made in such a way (by using emulsions??.. you really are testing my ignorance here) that the colors are actually in the paper rather than printed on the surface. It’s supposed to be archival quality whereas you’ll not get the same quality on a home printer.

Using a quick Google search, I can’t find the information that I’m looking for comparing the actual process of printing at home vs. a lab print. Hopefully someone with more knowledge than I will come along soon.

I did, however, find several photographer boards with this same discussion and it seems that even the professionals disagree on whether or not printing at home is a good thing. Here are some samples of those discussions…

Discussion of Canon Digital SLR equipment and issues common to Canon digital capture, post processing and technique. Feel free to post news, topics, and links of interest to Canon DSLR users. This group is open to all.   The group pool is only for...
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4084.html

Hope this helps.

You really have to go to a store and look at the samples. You will find a wide range of quality for printers that sound alike from their pixel specs. When I was looking a couple of years ago, HP had better photo quality, but that changes every year.

Prints from a lab such as you describe are based on photographic imaging. The image is projected onto photographic paper and developed in photographic chemicals. The prints are identical to those made from film. Such prints are far more durable and long-lasting than an inkjet or dye sublimation print.

How many pictures are you talking about scanning and printing? Why do you want to print from scanned prints instead of from the negatives? Are you trying to save money or make permanent digital copies? Knowing more about exactly what you want to accomplish will help us provide better advice.

First, as Ruby said, home printing generally doesn’t yield high quality or archival quality results. And it can be time consuming, frustrating, and expensive.

Second, scanning prints is generally a bad place to start, unless you don’t have the negatives, which you seemed to suggest wasn’t the case. It would be preferable to scan the negs, not the prints.

In general, unless you are mainly looking for an excuse for a new toy, or a new hobby making prints just for the fun of it, I would suggest using a professional service. They have faster and higher quality scanners than you’re going to buy, and they have automatic tools to speed up the processing and fine tuning of the image.

I recommend this regardless of the number of images you want to process. If it’s just a few, it won’t cost too much. If it’s a lot, they’ll save you an enormous amount of time, trouble, and tedium. It will cost you money, but trust me, halfway into scanning a thousand slides or negs, you’ll be really sick of it. Especially when you find after doing two hundred that the settings you’ve been using are all wrong and you’ll have to do them over again.

In a previous thread on this subject, someone suggested this service. I have no first hand experience with them, but they look pretty good.

It is really a combination of getting a new toy for her birthday and assisting her in her hobby of photography.
As far as I know she doesn’t have negatives just a bunch of boxes of her pictures.
She had expressed an intrest in making digital copies of her prints a few months ago and I thought she would enjoy going through her collection and scanning copies for prosperity and sharing with friends and family.
I appreciate your input everyone.

Okay, good. I haven’t done any research on scanners or printers lately, so this may be completely off, but I believe you will get better quality from a separate scanner and printer than from an all-in-one device.

I’ve been pretty happy with my Epson Perfection 2450 Photo scanner. It’s several years old now, so there must have been several newer models since then. It’s faster and easier to use than the one I had before it (also an Epson, I think) and it has slide/negative scanning capability built in.

When looking at printers (or all-in-ones), remember that they are a classic “Give away the razor and make money on the blades” type of item. Don’t be sucked in by a low purchase price without looking at the other costs of ownership. Find reviews that include the cost of consumables. Many inkjet printers are expensive on a per-page basis because they use a lot of ink. This is true of my Epson Stylus Photo 780, because I don’t do much photo printing, and between uses the heads get clogged. The cleaning process, which usually has to be repeated several times, wastes lots of ink.

Also, Epson printers have this annoying thing where they recognize non-Epson ink cartridges and either complain about them or sometimes won’t accept them at all.

Laser printers, while more expensive initially, are often less expensive in the long run.

In an ideal world, she’ll be able to find the negatives. There are several “flatbed” scanners on the market that have backlights built into the lid for the purpose of scanning film. The newer scanners have software designed for restoring photos. Look for terms like ICE or FARE. These can do a whole slew of restorative things on their own that would have taken a lot of twiddling in PhotoShop just a few years ago - fixing color balance, fade, scratches, redeye, etc.

For under $200, you can find scanners that will scan either photos or negatives.