Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

April-May 2006

Question of the Month

Should you buy a big printer?

Perhaps, like me, you've been tempted by one of the large printers, the type that's capable of producing prints larger than 24 inches on a side, with some of these printers capable of making prints up to 48 inches long. These printers can make spectacular prints, and there is absolutely no doubt that these images are impressive when displayed on a wall. At various times, I've had the opportunity to buy, used, a 4000 and a 7000 series printer, but each time I've passed, with some degree of reluctance. But with a reason, as well.

If you've been tempted in a similar way, perhaps these suggestions will help guide you.

One: There's no doubt that there is a lust factor involved in wanting a large printer. Bigger is better, right?
Two: Well, the prints are large, but so, too, are the printers. The Epson 7600, for example, is as big as a small table, and will occupy a nice hunk of realestate in any home office. In our office, for example, it would require a complete reorganization, and even then, the position of the printer would be compromised. You'll have to think about that, too.
Three: Big prints are expensive, and with some printers, if you decide to change inks, it can be costly as well.
Four, and this is the clincher: What are you going to do with the prints? If you make large prints, unless you have a huge house with plenty of wall space, you'll quickly run out of space for displaying your images. Bigger, suddenly, may not be better. I know of a few owners who offset the cost of their printer, and who can make some use out of their printer, by doing so on a semi-commercial basis. Those that do this are excellent printers and Photoshop masters, and the prints they produce are extremely professional. Are you that good? Do you have a marketing base where photographers can use your services, assuming that you are?
Five: Do you like making prints?
In preparation for being out of the office for about eight week, I had to prepare Mary Ann and my BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year photo competition, which involves making prints of our digital entries. Back in the old days of slide film, I used to feel inconvenienced having to take the time to select my slide entries, which rarely involved more than a couple of three hours of work. With this digital submission, for Mary and me, I spent nearly three full days. Besides the normal headaches of deciding upon exactly which image to use, at least ten minutes, and sometimes twenty or so, was spent in optimizing the image, from the Capture One RAW conversion to the Photoshop work and the final printing. We had nearly 60 prints, and after doing the last print I can say I'm not a fan of printing. I certainly have the entire workflow down pat, and made terrific prints, but ... let me out in the field to shoot!

So, before you go out and spend big dollars on a huge printer, consider the points offered above. Then, if you do buy a printer and don't like it, contact me, and maybe I'll buy it from you for a song! Just kidding.



Previous Questions of the Month




 Camera Techniques

 In the Field

Why must you have
at least 2 digital backups

Wildlife Models
Is there anything new
to shoot?

Is a Trip to Antarctica
Worth it?

  What is our Digital Workflow in the Lab?

 Who should go Digital,
and when?

 What is our initial Digital Workflow?

Is Shooting in the RAW format worthwhile?

 Can you match the Histograms?
 How do I keep track of Digital Files?

  Is Digital Manipulation - a benign alternative to interacting in the natural world?

What is DEC? 

How can you capture a sharp image and angel hair on a windy day?  

 Is the Mark II the ultimate wildlife digital camera?

  Does the Visibledust cleaning system really work?

What do we really think about digital photography?

 What do we think of the Canon D30 digital camera?

How long will film be around? 

  The Sunny 16 rule -- is it worth knowing today?

 What is the Difference?

 How do we meter White?

 How can you save your shoulders?

  How do you shoot silhouettes?

 How would you meter these challenging images?

Why should you know Manual Mode? 

How would you meter these images?

 What is the best season to do a photo safari in East Africa?

Which Mountain Park is better for wildlife - Denali or Torres del Paine?

What is the best Car Window Mount? 

  How do you make things happen in wildlife photography?

 What are our Five Favorite Shooting Locales?

 What is the Big Lie?
Tfhe truth about Kenya's Tourism--it is SAFE!

 Which binoculars do we just love to use?

 What is the best
Game Caller?

 What is our Favorite bird-shooting location?

 How Easy is Whale Photography?

  How do we carry our film when traveling?

What Film Lab do we use, and why? 

 How can you attract insectivorous birds to your feeding stations and bait sites? 

How can you reduce contrast and the effect of wind for flower and macro photography?

 Is an L-Shaped Camera Bracket worth the Money?
You bet it is!

 Using Zoom lenses with tele-converters and extension tubes -- can you use both together?

 What the heck is the Scheimpflug Law?

  Reciprocity Failure

 What is the Best Composition?

 Are Image Stabilization Lenses Worth the Money?

 Hyperfocal Distance

  How do you determine distances?

 Should you have a depth of field Preview button on your camera?

 Flash and Tele-flash Techniques

 What is the most versatile remote release camera firing system?

 What the heck is a Plamp?

 What is the best flash for closeup and
macro photography?

 How do you shoot high-speed action images?
 How did I photograph that flying wasp?

 What is the Fotronix's
Flash System?

What is the Most Important thing you can do before a Workshop?

How did I shoot the gliding Sugar Glider?
 Is NANPA for you?  What is NANPA and how will it benefit me?

 Is it time for a summer NANPA Summit?

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