On-Site Event Printing - HiTi?

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by mc2imaging, Oct 3, 2010.

  1. I've been doing shoot & print events for several years now. It's not my bread & butter thing, but I do ok doing 3 or 4 events a year. The first one I did for a friend's charity event using inkjet, and when the next opportunity came along I purchased a Kodak 1400 dye sub printer (of which I own 2 of now). Printing costs have remained flat for these printers for years - no problem.
    Not long after I bought my first 1400, I purchased a 4x6 Kodak dye sub printer for CRAZY cheap - like practically FREE! A few events I do are a bit too low-buck for running the 1400 and I actually make more money feeding the little printer at $.30 a pop (Yeah, making MORE money selling SMALLER prints doesn't make sense to me either). Problem is that after 4 years of buying 160 count print kits to get my cost down to .30/print, the kits have become significantly more expensive and harder to find.
    Printing multiples on one sheet through a 1400 doesn't fit the business model for a variety of reasons...
    I don't make the kind of money doing this to justify dropping $900 or more on a printer, but two or three hundred bucks, maybe. I went poking around at B&H and found the HiTi P110S that fits the bill nicely, except I know NOTHING about the company. I've looked at their customer service forums and the broken english (and comments like, "We don't support that, but you are welcome to test that to see if it works!") scares the poop out of me. (ACTUAL QUOTE: "It might be works (but the function may not completely).")
    Basically, I'm looking for any sort of feedback on HiTi printers, but if someone has any recommendations on alternatives that sell for 2 to 3 hundred dollars and make 4x6's for about $.30/print, I'm open for suggestions!
     
  2. And by "more expensive" and "harder to find" he means his wife has been all over the internet for 3 days now trying to find print kits for less than $1 - $1.50 per 4x6!!!!
    As near as I can figure, Kodak has decided to discontinue the PH print kit for at-home dye-sub printers. And, frankly, I REFUSE to pay some hack on "that" auction site $190 for a 160 print kit.
     
  3. Matthew - Just an idea, don't offer 4X6 prints. Offer a set price per page. For example offer 2 5X7, 1 8X10 or 8 wallets (per page) Maybe set your price per sheet, such as $25 or so. The Kodak 1400 paper costs you about $1.85 per sheet.
     
  4. I have no experience with the printer you inquired about though I thought that they looked good for fast moving events where you need the prints fast. I do think there are companies out there that lease similar printers. I think that perhaps Sony may have some similar printers worth looking at but they are probably around $1500 or so. I too wanted 4x6 prints on site and have been testing out the Canon printers, so far I really like the one I got, I even printed out some recent portraits I took for someone to give them and to test out how they would print and the results were very good. The print price is exactly what you were looking for in regard to the paper and ink costs.
     
  5. "Offer a set price per page. For example offer 2 5X7, 1 8X10 or 8 wallets..."​
    Been there, done that, it does not work for me. The biggest event we do is 3 full days. The first day is a Friday and the crowds are mostly highschool students (read: NO CASH). The first year we did this event, we only had the 1400 and sold exactly $0 on Friday (although we made a killing Saturday and Sunday). The following years we offered a 'Friday Only Special' with the 4x6's for $5.00 each and cleaned up. Five bucks every 5 minutes is better than zero bucks all day.
    We don't offer 4x6's at all on Saturday/Sunday because it's all Matt can do to keep up with feeding the 1400's, but the low buck Friday crowd keeps walking when they see $20-$25.
    Also, if I goof a print, 30 cents hurts a lot less than $1.50/print.
    If we have a typical Friday, the printer would pay for itself the first day. I don't mind dropping the cash if the HiTi's are durable and reliable, but if I have to waste a bunch of time futzing with the printer or replacing them every year or two they'd be a waste of my time. And it has to be DURABLE. We spend these 3 days shooting and printing OUTSIDE. Usually with the OK/KS typical 40mph winds that are a constant in April.
    Years ago, my little Kodak paid for itself in about 10 minutes (literally!) at this same event and has been a bullet proof cash cow ever since (I actually like it better than the 1400's). I can probably stand to feed it for .50~.75 a print this fall, but the writing is on the wall and I realize that the end is near for yet another printer that works great but just isn't economical to feed (I HATE that...).
    @Sheri: The thing I like about the HiTi is that it is DESIGNED to be portable. Especially when we are working in a tent or a barn, dust can be a significant issue. I've built special printer enclosures because the Kodak printers run the paper in and out several times in the printing process, exposing the paper for the opportunity to collect dust that will create a flaw in the image. Does the Canon do this too?
     
  6. Hey Maria,
    My suggestion - go with a Kodak 6800 or 6850 printer. You can get them new if you want... but if you want to save some cash you can purchase them used for around $199-$250. The cost per print is about .16 per 4x6. You can also offer 5x7 and 6x8 prints with the same printer so you may be able to sell upsized prints if you want.
    Media is very easy to find... runs about $125 dollars for 750 prints.
     
  7. Maria, email me if you would like some ideas. I'm sorry you didn't make any money. Maybe I can help.

    During the holiday season (Christmas) we bring in around $20,000, maybe more, just shooting holiday parties. We also shoot golfing events and charge $15 for a 5X7, so for each 4-some we make about $60. These golfing events often have 36 foursomes. Thats about a $1900 profit after the paper cost and hiring someone to help print. Not bad for 4 hours of work. $500 per hour.

    We shoot police parties, firemens balls, real estate parties, and a bunch of large company parties. We even shoot a huge Corvette party every year! There's all sorts of places to check out and call. Then there is Easter church photo's, college grad pics, and kids beauty pageants.

    Sometimes we are so busy we have 2 Kodak 9810 printers cranking at the same time just to keep up with the demands.

    We don't offer 4X6 prints, but you can if you wish.

    Wes is right about the 6800 printer. It's also pretty fast and the cost isn't too bad.
     
  8. Yes, the Canon printer I have been working with does run the print through for each color (dye sub), I have not used mine outdoors and don't really plan to unless I am in an area that would allow things to run without error.
     
  9. Bob/Wes. I was on the auction site last night, and darn if there aren't 5 6850s only a 150 miles from me up for auction.
    Thank you for the recommendation - and I do like that we'll be able to add 5x7s to the offering with that printer. We like our 1400s, and w/ the custom case Matt built, dust is less of an issue, but they sure have problems with it. The biggest complaint after dust (only outside) is the speed - they're NOT! With the 6850, Matt's printing might actually be able to keep up w/ my shooting!!!
    Bob - what's your workflow solution for going from camera to print? Are you in a situation where you really want that print off the camera & on paper in under 10 minutes, or do you have large amounts of time, say at the Corvette party & golf tourney?
    Other than the print speed, we've identified proofing as our biggest bottle neck. Right now, I just plug the K10D right into a tv, mom looks at the photos (typically 4 - 6) and orders anywhere from 1 - 6 prints. I would like to have someone else running the proofing station, but I'm not ready to have another computer right there I think - because of upload time & having one of our computers where random people can be touching it. Therefore, I'm still hemming/hawing about how to have proofing going on while I'm shooting the next customer. (then our lack of space becomes another problem, but that's a side note)
     
  10. FYI - I'm not always a fan of used equip, but since we couldn't find anyone that had any long term experience with the HiTi's we decided we'd trust a used Kodak more. We'll pick up one of those used 6850's for $215 with a 30 day warranty on Monday.
    Thanks for the recommendations!
     
  11. Powered up the printer last night. It came with a nearly full roll of paper, and the ribbon has 24% left. Printer has 59,000 prints on it and looks pretty good.
    Not really fond of the Mac software and I could not get it to work, so I installed the Windows drivers and ran a couple of prints. Printer seems to work fine!
     
  12. The upside of having to run Windows for the printer software to work - it will be HIS machine, not MINE!! WOOT!! I won't have to have somebody else dinking around on my machine & messing up my desktop!! Happy dance!! :D
     

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