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Why Does Paper Cost So Much?

Anthony Oresteen , Jul 31, 2003; 02:12 p.m.

I just bought an Epson Photo printer 925 from Staples ($229 plus a $50 rebate - seems like a decent price). It works fine. But

Why does Inkjet Photo paper cost so much? Kodak 4x6 paper 25 sheets was $9.99 at Wal-Mart. Epson paper is sky high compared to regular color photo paper.

What is in these papers that makes them cost more that photo paper with emulsion on them? I'm baffled.


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Stefan Engström , Jul 31, 2003; 02:33 p.m.

Find a different source for paper - 100 sheets of letter size glossy photo paper at my local Costco is about USD 20. It is in the ink they really get me...

Jason Neymeyer , Jul 31, 2003; 02:34 p.m.

It's probably due to the deforestation of the rainforests.... :) Seriously though, the inkjet manufacturers are able to sell the printers so cheaply because they charge you an arm and a leg for consumables like ink and paper.

Kenneth Katz , Jul 31, 2003; 03:03 p.m.

Inkjets are are a typical "razor/razor blade" type product. They probably loose money on the printer (including marketing and R&D) and make all their profits on the consumables that you are locked into buying (especially the ink).

Hal Bissinger , Jul 31, 2003; 05:19 p.m.

You can buy a SLR for $299 and pay for film and processing. You buy a printer for $299 and pay for paper and ink. Who says digital is cheaper?

Thang Hoang , Jul 31, 2003; 06:24 p.m.

The other route you can pursue is to take your shots to a digital 1 hour lab to have it printed. My local costco will print 4x6's for $.20 and full frame 12x18 prints for $3.00. They can print this from 35mm negative/slide film, and any digital media source.

I know, I know. Costco is a crap place. Not this one. The techs there are just as good as any camera/photo store in my area. Part of this is because the techs are dedicated only to the photo lab, are required to take various classes on photofinishing, and promptly adjust all my shots to my criteria for no extra cost. Their use of a Noritsu machine also helps them get better results as well. My Sam's Club in town also is run the same way and they use a Frontier machine.

With low cost services like this, I can't see why I would bother with printing at home when I finally get a digital camera.

Jeff Spirer , Jul 31, 2003; 09:33 p.m.

There are two reasons to print at home:

1) You need (or want) fast turnaround. For example, I went to a party last weekend and an eight-year old kid used a digital camera to take photos of everyone and give them a print when they left.

2) You care enough about your prints that you want to work on them until they are exactly what you want. After all, there are no great photographers who show prints made at Walmart.

Note that cost is not one of the reasons.

However, I agree that the price of paper sounds high, but that's because Walmart is only cheap if you don't check around.

Shawn Kearney , Jul 31, 2003; 10:36 p.m.

Jeff- You attend eight year old's parties often?

Anyway, I agree, the control you get from digital is much greater, i am not sure wheather or not price is a major factor.

Scott Eaton , Jul 31, 2003; 11:21 p.m.

....only the ones you weren't invited to.

For cranking out volumes of 4x5 and 4x6's I think it's a waste of time to go ink-jet, if not patently absurd. Some of you also seem to lack the skills to print more than one image on a piece of 8x11 paper and cut them down, which must mean you were very confused when your kids brought home all those package printed school pictures with all sizes on a single 8x10 sheet of paper. Do you have them framed that way????

My local Fuji Frontier labs charge $.75 to a buck for 4x6 prints, 10 bones for an 8x10, and I've learned the hard way that anything cheaper is a waste of time. I shop Walmart when I want a lawn chair or big box of laundry soap - not to produce my images.

Epson Premium Luster is less than a buck for an 8x10 sheet, and HeavyWeight Matte *WAY* less. Even including consumables this is substantially less to produce a quality 5x7 or 8x10 off my ink-jet printer, which cost $80 BTW (Epson 820).

Maybe the poor teenager at Walmart making $7.50 and hour is a better color technician than some of you are and can give you better results than with your own photo quality ink-jet printer. Pretty sad if you ask me.

Otherwise, I'd guess the more specialized and lower volume ink-jet paper market simply has higher markups than the photo sensitized color paper market which has to run at a more competitive and tighter profit margin.

Dave Pang , Aug 01, 2003; 01:30 a.m.

I got my photo paper from BJ's and Costco. Their prices are reasonable. Example: a box of 75 sheets 238g/m2 (mxm) is $13, about 17 cents each. It is made by Ilford, called Printasia. As for the ink, I buy ink cartridges made by third parties, which are much cheaper than those made by the original brand name company. In fact, when I searched for printers, I searched the prices of third-party ink cartridges first. Last time I had an Epson printer which was cheap but the inks eventually costed several times of the price of the printer itself. Now I am using a Canon printer. The ink cartridge costs less than $5 each.

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