Best camera prints for your dollars

Reporter: Marguerite McKinnon

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Now thanks to digital technology, there seems to be just as many ways to print them.
One in two Australian homes own a digital camera. We take more than 13 billion prints each year, and by 2009 that will rise to 16 billion. It is because it's getting cheaper and easier to do.

Tony Payne from Paxton's Camera Shop says budding photographers can do everything to photos. "They can enlarge them, they can crop them, they can take red-eye out, they can choose to burn their images into a cd," he said. "We can turn them into a calendar, we can make a photobook for them, we can make posters, we can collage posters where they can tell their whole story in one poster.You can even print photos on the cds on the covers.

With so many options available, it is hard to know which ones are the best. We have made a list we hope will help you pick the print which is the cheapest, the most convenient and the best quality.

The Kiosk is one of three ways to process digital pictures. It's like an ATM, and you can find them at department stores like Woolies, K-mart, Harvey Norman, Big W and Target.

At around 15 cents a print, Kiosks are the cheapest, offering simple colour or black and white prints without the frills.

The second option is a photo-lab.

Paxton's gives a lifetime guarantee on those prints.

"If you spill coffee on them or tear them or accidentally they fly out the car and get trodden on, you can bring them back in and we'll print them for free," Mr Payne says.

But many prefer option three, doing it at home.

Claire Stewart is a gifted scrap-booker. Taking photos of family and friends, for around 29 cents each she prints them out and makes colourful multi textured books. "When inspiration hits me I start printing off at home," she says. "When I'm feeling like I need to scrapbook, I'll just scroll through all my photographs on my pc." "I love to edit them with photoshop, you can get some really great effects and then scrapbook them." Home printing is the most expensive of the three options, but prices are coming down.

Next month, Kodak will offer a new ink jet printer it says gives the best pictures at half the price. More than 70 per cent of families with home printers limit their prints because of the cost of paper and ink.

The most convenient is the Home Printer. Unlike photolabs you don't have to wait or leave the house.

But with photolabs, mistakes are corrected and there's a guarantee.

As for the best quality, industry studies put Kodak as the best, but there's little difference when price is factored in.

The best kiosks are Fujicolour. And the days of processing film are far from over. A photo processing shop worker told Today Tonight that they process films every day.

Product comparisons

Digital printing

Cheapest - Prints 15c each
Harvey Norman
Big W
Domayne

Most convenient
Home printer
No waiting time
Don't have to leave the house

Photo labs
Mistakes are corrected
Guarantee on prints

Best quality - home
Kodak Colour Printer

Best quality - kiosk
Fujicolor Mini lab
Fuji kiosks are available at Big W, Bing Lee, Camera House, Domayne, Fletchers, Harvey Norman, Kmart, Target

What you will pay in your shopping outlet
BIG W 15c
Domayne 15c
Harvey Norman 15c
Snapfish online 19c
Kmart online 29c + Postage
Kodak online 29c + Postage
Harvey Norman online 29c + Postage
Paxtons 39c
Kodak 30c-40c
Office Works 29c- 49c

Helpful links
Want to order your pictures online? Try: http://www.snapfish.com.au/

If you want to know more about the new Kodak all-in-one Easyshare printer 5300 go to:
http://www.kodak.com/eknec/PageQuerier.jhtml?pq-locale=en_US&pq-path=10586

More information on the Epson printer range can be found at:
http://www.epson.com.au/products.