I read the blog of Scampix for getting your images printed and I would like to share my experience with printing images.
The main question is: Is it better to buy your own A3 color printer or go to a printing company?
My advise is:
Better go to a printing company. This should be a DIGITAL , not offset printing house, because with digital printing machines you can print minimum one copy. With offset, you have to print a lot more.
If you have to buy your own A3 printer, that has a good quality of printing, you have to spend a lot of money and to wait until they refund. (The company I used to work for, spend 40 000 euro, for a good quality printer ).If you use others' services, you just pay when you need the print.
Here are the steps I suggest you should follow:
1. Make a research:
Find two or three printing houses in your area that are offering quality service
Go in each one of the houses and make demo copies of the same picture.Ask for specifics of the printing machine, like size of the paper, print area of the paper, maximum thickness of the paper, variety of papers, label of the printing machine and price of one copy, of course. Take notes.
Not every printer prints only up to A3 size. A3 size is 297 mm x 420 mm. Many machines can print bigger sizes - 320 x 450 mm, 330 x 470 mm etc. or even bigger if they use a color wide format printers. Many machines can also print on a variety of papers, except the standard 300 gsm (gramm /sq.m). 300 gsm is the paper usually used for printing business cards. Some printers can offer you granulated paper, or high-gloss paper, colored paper etc.
3. Compare results:
Compare the prints and prices. Find the copy you like the most, with the most photo-realistic quality, or the biggest in paper size. Then make your choice
Return to the printing house and negotiate on prices. Present your self, explain you are a photographer and you are interested in using their service. Ask what price they give if you bring photos for print regularly or for more than one, or ten , or 20 copies of the same picture. Ask if they can give you samples of papers. Ask if they work with other photographers and if they offer other service.
5. Go ahead
If you managed to negotiate good conditions - go ahead and take orders for prints.