Using a lab to make digital photo prints, Canon Digital Rebel recommended

Week of October 26, 2003

Q: I have been printing with a HP 840C printer, using Kodak and HP inkjet photo paper. I have had problems with framed photographs fading within a few months. I am considering putting some photographs up for consignment sale and am not so much concerned about selling them as them fading if someone buys them. The photo paper I’ve seen on pictures for sale looks a lot heavier than what I’ve seen for home use. I would like to get a wide carriage printer to make large prints. I have seen an Epson 1280 on clearance for $350, any thoughts on how that printer would work?

I also need to upgrade my digital camera. I would like one of those $6000 professional jobs, but realistically, I think I can spend $600 at this point. I like to do close-ups but am limited by not enough zoom or not enough pixels to crop extensively when I can’t get close enough to some subjects. My current camera is 4.0 megapixels with a 2x optical zoom. Between a new 4 megapixel with a 10x optical zoom, and a 5.0 megapixel with less zoom, which would be the best next step?

-Anita Rakestrawa, El Dorado, KS

A: It looks like you are working with a total budget of $1,000. When I read your questions, I immediately knew that I had an answer that would thrill you. However, you will have to adjust your expectations and thinking a little bit.

Let’s discuss your printer first. You stumbled upon the answer yourself, though you did not realize it. You said, “The photo paper I’ve seen on photos for sale looks a lot heavier than what I’ve seen for home use.” What you have seen is actual photographic paper from a lab, not inkjet paper. Most professional photographers own an inkjet printer for occasional use, but still send their digital files to a lab for printing on photographic paper. These print usually looks better than inkjet prints and are much more fade and water resistant. Instead of buying a new printer, I recommend you send your digital files to a laboratory to make your prints for you. By using a lab, you will get great quality, archival permanence and resistance to fade, and for now, you will save $350 to use towards a new camera.

When discussing cameras, you said “I would like one of the $6000 professional jobs.” You are undoubtedly referring to a high resolution digital camera with through-the-lens viewing and interchangeable lenses. Well, they don’t cost $6,000 any more. They don’t cost $3,000, or even $1,500. Canon has recently introduced the Digital Rebel, a 6.3 megapixel camera with interchangeable lenses for the breakthrough price of $999, including a zoom lens. With your total budget of approximately $1,000, this is right in your price range.

With a little practice adjusting the pictures on your computer, the Digital Rebel can produce professional image quality that exceeds 35mm film. This is because it uses the same high-quality sensor as the Canon 10D, a digital camera that has found its way into the bag of many a wedding photographer. The viewfinder is large and clear and the camera reacts much faster than a point and shoot, with instant zooming, lightning-fast autofocus and immediate shutter release- no waiting after you push the button. This makes it a great choice for photographers with small children, as well.

You seem to be a serious photographer, and a point-and-shoot camera has serious limitations. The Digital Rebel will open new worlds of creativity for you. Try one and you will never go back.

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