Why Does Paper Cost So Much?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by Aoresteen, Jul 31, 2003.

  1. 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.
  2. 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...
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    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.
  8. 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.
  9. ....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.
  10. 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.
  11. Most cheap Paper is sold by the pound; that is why they fluff up the cheap toilet paper rolls; like cotton candy; all air. High end inkjet papers in big standard 36"; 42"; 54" rolls are usually on 2 inch cores; and have 100 feet per roll. The cost divided by surface area is ALOT lower than 13x19; 4x6" etc ; small sheets; which are all cut from rolls at the paper convertor. The smaller sizes are cut down from larger rolls; by sliting the large roll with a knife; then the roll is cut into sheets. A 13x19" sheet is cut from 13" rolls; the 13" roll is cut from a larger roll; with a knife. The added cost of "converting" to stock paper sizes is measureable; plus it must be packaged; wrapped; labeled; etc. Short runs of oddball papers are cut out of the next larger size; and the scrap is tossed out. 13x19" Super B was once a real freak; now with demand up; the cost premium is reduced. <BR><BR>Here Walmart has a Frontier; and does digital input prints for 29 cents; if one does all the self serve order entry game; at their Kiosk. This price is cheaper than the cost of the inkjet paper qouted in your question. I am also abit baffled why one would want to brint out a bunch of dinky 4x6 inkjets; when they cost more than the Frontier processor's price.
  12. Since someone who makes prints needs a cutter anyway, it's much more economical to buy A4's (or whatever equivalent you have in the US) and then cut them down if you want smaller images. Plus, you don't need to have ten different paper sizes hanging around.
  13. At $0.29 per 4" x 6" print, Adorama does a decent job with their Noritsu, printed on Kodak Royal paper. It is certainly cheaper than using my inkjet, and less time consuming. I still do a 2-minute crop, levels adjustment, and sharpen before slapping on the icc profile and uploading to Adorama's system. IMHO, perfectly acceptable for snapshots that you give away or put into the family photo album.
  14. 2 things to consider:
    1. Do not buy cheapo glossy no-brand paper and expect it to work in an Epson printer. Epson is capable of making excellent prints, but you have to feed it "the good stuff", which is Epson paper in this case. You wouldn't put 87 Octane gasoline in a Ferrari either.

    2. There are a LOT cheaper sources for paper than Wal-Mart.
    I buy my Epson Premium Glossy Photo paper at
    8.5x11 - 20 sheets for $10.86, which will make 40 4x6 prints.
  15. Watch the fingerprints and the fingers; when cutting down paper; with a cutter. Glossy paper when touched; often accepts ink abit differently; and often the finger marks show up on the final print.
  16. I'm using an epson C82 with "durabright" inks, and these inks (pigment type) work best on matte papers (instead of the glossy I'm used to with dye based inks) It's a different look, but not bad once it's mounted under glass, and the printer is very affordable. The ink is expensive, but the paper is very reasonable, and also available in double sided for printing calenders, brochures and books. I use heavyweight matte and it's not expensive in a 50 pack. So, in my case, the printer was a steal, the paper is quite affordable, but they get me on the ink. As other's have mentioned, cut your own sizes from larger sheets, at the least 8.5 x 11 inches. The 4 x6 size is specifially designed to make extra profit... and because people are lazy and don't have time to accurately cut paper.
  17. snapfish, snapfish, snapfish...... (or ophoto is you're so inclined). Its not THAT slow, it's good, and it's cheap.

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