Bear in mind that I'm not a professional mapmaker -- I make maps as tools for my analytical work. But I do need quality maps.
I deal with the question of tools in parallel with that of the data. I actually get a fair amount of use out of Versamap, a very basic program which is handy because it is very fast and easy to use. For more complex maps I use Manifold, simply because it seems to be the cheapest general mapping software. Its main drawback is that it's terribly slow, at least on my system, and prone to hanging up or crashing.
I have a fair amount of Photoshop experience and use it for compositing, adjustment, and titling. Since neither Versamap nor Manifold offer graceful ways to export to Photoshop, I print layer-by-layer to PDF and then open the PDFs in Photoshop.
I doubt that my workflow would serve a professional cartographer at all well, but I think it's fairly proactical for someone like me who makes maps occasionally. It doesn't require a large investment in specialized software or demand that I spend a lot of time developing and maintaining special skills. As I say, Photoshop is well suited to my puroposes because I use it for other things as well.
I'd be interested in any comments anyone wants to offer. I've toyed with the idea of taking the time to master Illustrator, but have never been convinced it was worthwhile. I've also looked at a number of alternatives to Manifold, but have not identified any that seem clearly better for roughly the same price.
For output I rely on my laser printer. I've recently acquired an HP LaserJet CP2025dn which does a very nice job of double-sided color printing on A or A4 paper and can print 400+ pages in an hour, real-world speed. Since I rarely need more than a few dozen copies of any report and rarely produce reports running to more than 250 pages, this meets my needs well, and is a good deal cheaper than sending the work out. Using high quality paper the results are equal to those you would expect from a high-quality magazine.
For my very occasional needs for larger sizes I usually rely on an Epson Stylus Photo 1280, which will print at sizes up to 13"x19".