Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Comparison - 16 Online Photo Print Labs

Introduction

I have a confession: I print a lot of photos. Call me old school, I don’t care, because I love looking at a great photo that’s been printed out on high quality paper. I enjoy the impact that large photos have on people, including myself. I always recommend to my friends and colleagues to print out their favorite photo at 11x14 or bigger and they are never disappointed.

I have a second confession: I use Smugmug to host my own individual site www.emmett.photography.com and use them to print my own photos as well as my clients photos. More specifically, I use the ezprints company, which is one of the companies that Smugmug partners with, to print my photos, because it’s built into my site, really easy to use and convenient to sell prints to my clients. Overall I’m happy with what I have seen.

Why then would I want to review 16 different online printing companies? The first trigger for the test was that although printing from Smugmug was similarly priced to printing from ezprints directly, the shipping costs made a big difference. The second trigger was when a good friend of mine asked me to review a very large print (20x30) of a nighttime cityscape and I was impressed with the quality. I asked him how much it cost and he said $9! I asked him where he printed it and he said Costco! These two events made me realize that there are probably more choices out there and that if I’m going to tell my friends and colleagues to print out photos, I’d also like to be able to make good recommendations about where to get them printed. Hence this article.

A few notes:

I’d like to point out that this is an independent study with no sponsorship from any company or individuals. It was a personal investment of just over $360 and many hours to complete.

This review is for the everyday photographer rather than for the professional photographer who is selling prints, even though I intend it for myself for that purpose. There are a number of good online photo printer reviews out there which are easily be found by searching Google or Bing using the phrase “online photo printer reviews”. The problem is that all of them have a different top ten so I wanted to personally see what they were capable of.

Methodology in Performing the Test

After reviewing the other online reviews I selected the following 16 online photo print labs:

I then selected 20 different images with two criteria (1) their strong colors or contrast and (2) I would like to hang on my walls. These are the 20 images:



My original aim was to order four different sizes, 6x4, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 from each printer, but I soon realized that the cost of this was prohibitive, so I didn’t order large prints from everyone.
I ordered the following prints:
  • Nine 6x4
  • Seven 5x7
  • Three 8x10
  • One 11x14
The exceptions for Shutterfly, RitzPix, CVS Photo and MPIX were:
  • Thirteen 6x4
  • Seven 5x7
The other exceptions were due to the process of signing up with new accounts:
  • Miller’s Professional Imaging require you to upload four 8x10 images that they then send to you free of charge. They send you two sets of each image one no color adjustments and one with color adjustments.
  • WHCC require you to upload five 8x10 images that they send to you free of charge for review.

I used each company’s website to upload the photos, select sizes, crop some of the photos, select print type and select shipping. Where possible I selected the print type Lustre as this is my preferred type, when not available I selected matte, when neither option was available, or I missed it, I went with whatever they sent me.

 


Disclaimer:

Although I’ve tried my best to make this test accurate and impartial, I fully admit that I am only a human being with warts and all. Not all the labs offered the same options, or maybe I just missed them, for printing photos, so some did have color correction and some didn’t. I hope that the results of this test, although not perfect, give you a better idea about what’s out there and enable you to choose an online photo printing company that works for you.

Overall Results

After receiving all of the prints, I labeled each photo with the lab name and sorted the photos by image. Each photo was then compared, using a blind study, against the original image on screen (using a calibrated monitor) under fairly controlled lighting.

Each company was measured on the following criteria:
  • Price: The price was calculated by simply adding up one of each of the following size prints, 6x4, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20 & 20x30. Ranking is out of 5 where 5 is the cheapest and 1 the most expensive.
  • Shipping: Shipping measured the cost of shipping the photos to my home and was ranked out of 5, with 5 being the cheapest shipping and 1 the most expensive.
  • Timeliness: Timeliness measures the delivery time of all of the photos compared to promised delivery time. Ranking is out of 3, where 1 is within the promised time, 2 is on time, and 3 was delivered after the promised time.
  • Paper: I measured the paper by the heaviness of the paper stock. The ranking was out of 3, where heavy stock paper scored a 3, medium stock scored a 2 and lightweight paper stock scored a 1.
  • Quality: Quality measured the accuracy of the color compared to the original photo as well as any distortion or bad prints. Rank was out of 5, where 5 indicates a perfect match and 1 indicates a completely unacceptable print.
  • Overall Score: The overall score was a combined score of all the above measures, but with a heavy weighting on price and quality (they make up 80% of the score) due to their importance for most people. Maximum possible score would be 4.7.

Overall Score

As a semi professional photographer who takes a lot of pride from printing out photos for myself as well as providing online print capabilities for my customers through my own website hosted by Smugmug, using EZ Prints, I had to swallow my pride when reviewing these results.

For the average person printing out any size prints I would not have any hesitation recommending Costco Photo Center, which only failed badly on one photo, which nearly every other printer also failed.


Quality

The photos I chose were specially chosen for strong colors or contrast to see how each printer would handle the images.

Out of the 20 images sent it only 4 out of the 20 produced significant challenges all of which had strong yellow or green colors. The picture of the peas created the largest and weirdest color shifts. The picture of the girl in the field of yellow flowers caused the biggest problem, with many of the copies looking damaged.

The highest quality images had blues, browns and black in them. The picture of the huts on the beach and the brass steam engine scored the highest.

The results were interesting in that no one printer scored all high for all images. Only ezprints, ProDPI, Smugmug and WHCC didn’t score lower than a 3 in any photo.

Overall ProDPI created the best set of photos with 19 photos scoring a 4 or 5. Their pricing scored low because of the high price of the 6x4 and 5x7 prints. However they are competitive with print sizes 8x10 and above.



NOTE: Measuring the quality of the image seems like it should have been a lot easier than it was. A photo will either look like the image you sent in or it won’t, but what I found was not so straight forward. The problem is that the eyes adapt to what they see and your brain interprets colors according to context. Let me briefly explain.

If you’ve ever worn colored sunglasses or ski goggles which have a tint you’ll know that you eyes and brain work together to interpret colors so that after a short period the snow you are looking at goes from whatever tinted color your goggles are to white in a fairly short period of time. When you take the goggles off the snow looks the opposite color of the tint for a short period.

I originally started by viewing each of the 14-16 copies of the same photo individually against the original, but often could not see a much difference between the one or the other but when I put the photos in a stack and fanned them out I could easily see that the tones were different, so I did two things to measure the quality (1) fan all the photos out to see which tone and match the closest one to the original color and marked the other accordingly and (2) matched each photo against the original.

Price

The most interesting thing about pricing is that, except for Costco and Sam’s club, it is not as simple as saying one printer is cheaper than the other, it really does depend on what size your printing.
For Costco and Sam’s Club they were generally the cheapest for all sizes (except Costco’s 6x4). For all other printers, one may be cheap on the 6x4 but expensive for a 8x10, and another may be the reverse.

Interestingly the average price difference is roughly four times, between the cheapest and most expensive photos for all sizes, except 6x4. For 6x4 the price difference is nearly 20 times, so if you want this size, it pays to shop around.

I purposely didn’t putting any pricing in this article as they are always subject to change and various discounts, however the scores reflect the cost of the following products, 6x4, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20 and 20x30



Individual Companies

Listed by alphabetical order

AdoramaPix

http://www.adoramapix.com
 http://www.adoramapix.com

Scores

Overall: 3.7    |    Quality: 3.9    |    Price: 4

Summary

Overall an excellent user experience, with a lot of good functionality and choices. One of the cheapest 8x10 and one of the cheapest overall.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Google+, Facebook, Flickr, Smugmug, Instagram, Photobucket & Phanfare. Connection speed to import photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to.
  • Can select different paper types: Glossy, Matte, Lustre, Metallic. Only Metallic costs extra per print.
  • Kodak Professional Endura paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Color Correction at no extra charge
  • Can choose what to print on the back of each photo
  • Cropping is fairly easy and has a resolution indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is four business days after processing, which they also indicate how long it will take, which they were able to meet.
  • Only real negative here was the price of shipping and it was one of the highest of them all. This makes it very expensive to print a handful of prints.

Packaging

  • Good sturdy packaging with the photos well protected. 11x14 flat packed which means that it is kept flat and won’t create ripples trying to flatten it out


 

 



Costco Photo

http://www.costcophotocenter.com/Home
http://www.costcophotocenter.com/Home
 

Scores

Overall: 3.9    |    Quality: 3.5    |    Price: 5

Summary

Overall Costco has the best combination of price and fairly good quality, especially for larger size prints. The online user experience however, feels a lot like shopping in Costco, not very flashy but functionally okay.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Picasa, Skydrive, Google Drive and Dropbox. Connection speed to browse photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to, however upload speeds once connected are pretty good.
  • Can select different paper types: Glossy, Lustre, with no price difference between the paper types.
  • FujiFilm Crystal Archive paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really acceptable quality and medium stock
  • No color correction available. However there is documentation for using printer profiles for Photoshop and Lightroom – but these seem very complex to follow, but from talking to friends yield very good results.
  • Cropping is easy and has a warning indicator for resolution problems to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size. That said, the warning message is not very obvious and easily overlooked
  • Had some basic editing features including being able to add some fun borders for fun photo.
  • Standard Shipping is six to nine business including processing time, which they were able to meet, even though they shipped two different packages.
  • You can pick up at a local store at no additional cost.

Packaging

  • Packaging plain but sturdy
  • 11 x 14 in printed at the same place as Walmart & Sam's Club
  • 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo"
 

 



CVS Photo

http://www.cvsphoto.com/home
http://www.cvsphoto.com/home

Scores

Overall: 2.5    |    Quality: 3.2    |    Price: 2

Summary

Overall a bad user experience with limited choices and functionality, below average print quality, fairly costly printing and shipping charges.

User experience is very frustrating when you want to order different sizes from the default 6x4. The site forces you to add the quantity of the size you want BEFORE you remove the 6x4 quantity. If you change the quantity of the 6x4 size to 0 the photo disappears from the shopping cart before you can add in the new size quantity. This may seem a small problem, but it is counter intuitive to the user experience. , with a lot of good functionality and choices.

  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fairly fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Picasa, Skydrive, Google Drive and Dropbox. Connection speed to browse photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to, however upload speeds once connected are pretty good.
  • No option to select different paper types. Only glossy available.
  • Kodak paper was used for the glossy prints which is only average quality and a light stock
  • No color correction available
  • No options to choose what to print on the back of each photo
  • Cropping is fairly easy and shows an error message when cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is five to seven business days, which they were able to meet.
  • A $1.49 service charge will be added for orders under $5.00 for in Store Pick Up only.
  • Note: Did not order 8x10 or 11x14 – due to cost

Packaging

  • Cheap flimsy envelope with little protection for photos
  • Glossy paper
 

 



Ezprints

http://ezprints.com/
http://ezprints.com/

Scores

Overall: 3.5    |    Quality: 4.0    |    Price: 3

Summary

ezprints has one of the best quality prints in the group tested. The costs of prints is average, but has one of the cheapest 11x14 prints.

Overall user experience is OK, but has some quirks. Before you upload your photos you need to know what paper type you want to print on and what size you want to print, then you need to upload by a paper type and a paper size at a time.

  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook, Flickr, Smugmug & Picasa. Connection speed to import photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to.
  • Can select different paper types: Glossy, Matte, Lustre, Metallic. There are additional costs for Lustre and Metallic prints.
  • Kodak Professional Endura paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Color correction not available
  • Cropping is done by zooming the image in a fixed size rather than cropping like most other sites. There is NO resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is seven to ten days delivery time plus 2 days processing, which they were able to easily meet.
  • They provide free shipping for orders over $30
  • Shipping costs are one of the cheapest.

Packaging

  • Good sturdy packaging with the photos well protected. Photo paper has some slight warping on the top edge of the 6x4 and 5x7 prints.
  • 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo"

 

 



Miller's Professional Imaging

http://www.millerslab.com/

http://www.millerslab.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.9    |    Quality: 3.5    |    Price: 2

SummaryThe overall score for Miller’s reflects an average user’s experience and only applies to their sample images. The range of services offered by Miller’s is clearly geared to professional photographers.

Miller’s Professional Imaging has a sign up process that allows you to receive a sample of four test 8x10 prints free of charge. They have provide two sets of each photo, one with no color correction and one with color correction so that you can see the difference. When comparing both images to my calibrated monitor the no color adjusted prints were more accurate to my photo than the color adjusted prints. Because of the signup process I didn’t order 6x4, 5x7 or 11x14 prints.

Miller’s use a java based program to upload photos for printing and comes with a fully fledge set of print options. I did not use the functionality as part of this test.

  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • No ability to connect directly other services
  • Can select from many different paper types with prices clearly indicated for each types.
  • FujiColour Professional paper was used for the prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Full set of editing functionality including hair removal, facial shine, brace removal, etc., each with clear pricing.
  • Cropping is easy but doesn’t have a resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Minimum order value if $10 but comes with excellent overnight FedEx shipping.

Packaging

  • Best packaging and protection using flat packed
  • Packing includes a product catalog and sample of the different papers they have.
 

 

 

 


mpix

http://www.mpix.com/
http://www.mpix.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.9    |    Quality: 3.7    |    Price: 2

Summary

Overall mpix ended up in the middle of the pack with OK quality photos but are more expensive than the average. Has a fairly clunky user experience that takes time to get use to and is not very intuitive.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fairly fast
  • No ability to connect directly other services
  • Can select from Standard, Lustre, Metallic and True Black & White Matte paper types with prices clearly indicated for each types.
  • FujiColour Professional paper was used for the prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Good set of editing functionality including hair removal, facial shine, brace removal, etc., each with clear pricing.
  • Cropping is easy but doesn’t have a resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is five to ten business days, which they were able to meet.
  • Didn’t order 8x10 or 11x14 due to cost of overall study.

Packaging

  • Packaging plain but sturdy.
  • Photos well protected inside with plastic bags
 

 




NOTE: It looks like Millers and mpix are printed at the same location or by the same company, based on the senders address on each of the packages. This would explain the additional services that mpix offers which are similar to Miller’s, e.g. hair removal.



Nations Photo Lab

http://www.nationsphotolab.com

http://www.nationsphotolab.com

Scores

Overall: 3.6    |    Quality: 3.9    |    Price: 5

Summary

Overall a good user experience, with some good functionality and choices, however handling the upload and selecting the prints is slightly clunky and could be a lot easier. Except for the 6x4 size, Nations has some of the cheapest prices for the other sizes
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Smugmug, & Photobucket. Connection speed to import photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to. I couldn’t get photos from the Facebook or Smugmug pages to load to an album, but had no problems with Flickr and Picasa.
  • Can select different paper types: Glossy, Lustre, Metallic. Only Metallic costs extra per print.
  • Kodak Professional Endura paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Color correction available at an extra charge
  • Changing the size of a print is hard, as it forces you to delete the selected size and start again to select the image and the new size.
  • Cropping is fairly easy. There is a resolution warning indicator after you have finished cropping to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size, however it is not very helpful in helping you understand how to fix the problem.
  • Standard Shipping is four business days after processing, which they also indicate how long it will take, which they were able to meet.
  • Only real negative here was the price of shipping and it was one of the highest of them all. This makes it very expensive to print a handful of prints.

Packaging

  • Good sturdy packaging with the photos well protected. 11x14 flat packed which means that it is kept flat and won’t create ripples trying to flatten it out
  • That said, the 11x14 photo had been careless put into the paper inner packing and had folded one of the corners, which was disappointing.
 

 

 

 



ProDPI

http://www.prodpi.com/
http://www.prodpi.com/

Scores

Overall: 3.2    |    Quality: 4.3    |    Price: 2

Summary

Pro DPI scored the highest in Quality, but it’s higher than average pricing, mainly driven by their smaller sizes, pushed it down to the middle of the pack overall. The major drawback of using ProDPI is their java based user interface that is complex and hard to navigate for uploading prints and orders. Another disconcerting thing is the price list is found under “downloads” and is a 48 page PDF file. It took me about 15mins to find the price list!
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can’t connect to any external services
  • Can select different many different paper types with clear costs extra per print.
  • Kodak Professional Endura paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Color Correction is available at an extra charge per photo
  • Cropping is fairly easy and but does not have any a resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is 1-3 business days after processing, which they were able to meet.
  • Minimum Order amount is $12, but free standard shipping is available.

Packaging

  • Good sturdy packaging with the photos well protected. 11x14 flat packed which means that it is kept flat and won’t create ripples trying to flatten it out
  • Best thing it you even get a little piece of candy ☺
 

 

 




RitzPix

http://www.ritzpix.com/
http://www.ritzpix.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.0    |    Quality: 3.1    |    Price: 1

Summary

Overall RitzPix scored the lowest in both Quality and Pricing which surprised me, from what I had read from other reviews. However, almost half of the prints were considered unacceptable compared to the original. Overall the web user experience isn’t too bad, but has limited functionality and choices.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook & Instagram. Connection speed to import photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to.
  • Can select different paper types: Glossy, Matte, Deep Matte, Metallic. Deep Matte and Metallic costs a lot more per print.
  • FujiFilm Crystal Archive was used for the 5x7 prints, which is a medium stock paper. Kodak paper was used for the 6x4 prints, which is a light stock paper.
  • Did not order 8x10 or 11x14 due to overall cost of the study
  • No color correction available
  • Can choose what to print on the back of each photo
  • Cropping done using small thumbnails, which doesn’t allow for accurate cropping. There is no resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is five business days after processing, which they were able to meet.
  • Free Shipping for orders over $30
  • Only real negative here was the price of shipping and it was one of the highest of them all. This makes it very expensive to print a handful of prints.

Packaging

  • Packaging was not sturdy and didn’t seem very protective for the photos.
 

 



Sam's Club Photo

http://photo.samsclub.com
http://photo.samsclub.com

Scores

Overall: 3.7    |    Quality: 3.5    |    Price: 5

Summary

Overall Sam’s Club scored in the top three with a good combination of great price and fairly good quality, with the main drawback being that they only print Glossy photos. The online user experience is very similar to the Costco experience.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, Picasa, Skydrive, Google Drive and Dropbox. Connection speed to browse photos seems to vary depending on what service you connect to, however upload speeds once connected are pretty good.
  • Only option is for Glossy prints
  • FujiFilm Crystal Archive paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really acceptable quality and medium stock
  • Color correction is on by default and does not cost extra. You need to check a box to indicate that you don’t want any color correction.
  • Cropping is easy and has a warning indicator for resolution problems to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size. That said, the warning message is not very obvious and easily overlooked
  • Had some basic editing features including being able to add some fun borders for fun photo.
  • Standard Shipping is six to nine business including processing time, which they missed by 1 day due to having shipped three different packages.
  • Option to pick up at local store which is the default but Home Delivery is cheaper than in store pickup, but has one of the highest shipping costs!

Packaging

  • Packaging plain but sturdy
  • 11 x 14 in printed at the same place as Walmart & Costco
  • 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo
 

 




Shutterfly

http://www.shutterfly.com/
http://www.shutterfly.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.6    |    Quality: 3.3    |    Price: 2

Summary

Overall Shutterfly didn’t impress me with quality of prints against the originals for the price of the prints. The user interface is fairly easy to use and the Express Uploader software is easy to use for mass uploading of images.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • I was surprised to find that Shutterfly doesn’t connect directly to other services, as it would seem an obvious functionality for the market they are aiming to serve.
  • Can only select different paper types: Glossy, Matte.
  • FujiFilm Crystal Archive paper was used for the Matte prints which is a nice quality and medium stock
  • Did not order 8x10 or 11x14 – due to cost of overall study
  • No color correction is available
  • You can enter text to print on the back of each photo
  • Cropping is very easy. The resolution warning indicator pops up as an error message when moving to the next step rather than when you are cropping, which is not intuitive or convenient.
  • Standard Shipping is 5-10 business days, which they were able to meet, even though they arrived in two shipments
  • One slightly annoying item was that the order confirmation page didn't reload on screen, but I did receive an email confirming the order had been received.

Packaging

  • Packaging very sturdy, colorful and professional looking, with the photos well protected.
 

 



Smugmug

http://www.smugmug.com/
http://www.smugmug.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.9    |    Quality: 4.1    |    Price: 2

Summary

Smugmug uses four different online printers for printing their images. For my own and my client prints I use ezprints. I wanted to see if there was any difference between the print quality that Smugmug delivers through ezprints and from ezprints direct. Smugmug ended 2nd for print quality with 0.1 points ahead of ezprints.
Overall Smugmug provides an excellent user experience for people ordering prints. A nice touch is the product videos that are accessible from the shopping cart and explain what each product is.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can select different paper types: Glossy, Matte, Lustre, Metallic. Only Metallic costs extra per print.
  • Kodak Professional Endura paper was used for the Lustre prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Color Correction is available but is set by the owner of the site rather than by the person buying the photos.
  • Cropping is very easy but there is no resolution indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is 6-9 business days after processing which they were able to meet.

Packaging

  • Good sturdy packaging with the photos well protected. 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo
 

 

 



Snapfish

http://www.snapfish.com
http://www.snapfish.com

Scores

Overall: 2.9    |    Quality: 3.3    |    Price: 3

Summary

Overall Snapfish failed to really impress with the quality of prints or on the pricing in general, however they do provide one of the better online user experiences. It keeps things simple with limited functionality and choices, but what it does, it does well. Snapfish were also one of the few services that obviously had a worldwide presence and felt global.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • Can connect directly to Facebook & Flickr..
  • Can only select Glossy or Matte different paper types.
  • Kodak paper was used for the Matte prints which is only average quality and light stock
  • No color correction option available
  • Cropping is very easy and has a very good resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is 3-5 business days after processing, which they were able to meet, even though they came in two shipments.

Packaging

  • Good professional looking, sturdy packaging with the photos well protected. 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo
 

 

 

 



Walmart Photo

http://photos1.walmart.com
http://photos1.walmart.com

Scores

Overall: 2.9    |    Quality: 3.3    |    Price: 3

Summary

Overall Walmart average quality and just lower than average pricing for the larger prints, put it in the middle of the pack. The online user experience is fair and has the basic functionality to order your prints One
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy but has one of the slower upload times.
  • Can connect directly to Facebook
  • Can select different two different paper types: Glossy, Matte
  • No color correction option.
  • FujiFilm Crystal Archive paper was used for the 11x14 prints which is a really acceptable quality and medium stock. Kodak paper was used for the other sized prints which is only average quality and light stock
  • Cropping is done by zooming in one click at a time and is not user friendly. There is no resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size, however there is a warning indicator to show if the overall size of the image is too small for a print size, which is a nice feature.
  • Standard Shipping is 5-10 business days after processing, which they were able to meet.

Packaging

  • 11 x 14 in printed at the same place as Sam’s Club & Costco
  • 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo
  • Outer packaging for the other prints is fairly sturdy, but the 8x10 prints had no protection inside the packing, which is worrying.
 

 

 

 




WHCC

http://www.whcc.com/
http://www.whcc.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.9    |    Quality: 3.6    |    Price: 2

Summary

The overall score for WHCC reflects an average user’s experience and only applies to their sample images. The range of services offered by WHCC is clearly geared to professional photographers.

WHCC has a sign up process that allows you to receive a sample of five test 8x10 prints free of charge. Because of the signup process I didn’t order 6x4, 5x7 or 11x14 prints. It did come with a full set of sample photos for all of their different print types, which is a really nice handy tool to refer to when ordering prints.

WHCC use a java based program to upload photos for printing and comes with a fully fledge set of print options. I did not use the functionality as part of this test.

  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy and fast
  • No ability to connect directly other services
  • Can select from many different paper types with prices clearly indicated for each types.
  • Kodak Professional Endura paper was used for the prints which is a really nice quality and heavy stock
  • Smaller set of retouching option, than Miller’s or ProDPI, each with clear pricing.
  • Cropping is easy but doesn’t have a resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Minimum order value if $12 but comes with free two day shipping, unless otherwise noted by product.

Packaging

  • Good sturdy packaging with the photos well protected.
 

 

 

 



York Photo

http://www.yorkphoto.com/

http://www.yorkphoto.com/

Scores

Overall: 2.8    |    Quality: 3.2    |    Price: 3

Summary

Overall York scored towards the bottom of the pack, mainly due to the quality of it’s prints. Although I really liked the design and look and feel of the York site, the user experience of ordering and editing photos does not seem intuitive and takes some time to figure out.
  • Uploading photos from the computer is easy but has the slowest upload times.
  • Can connect directly to Facebook
  • Can select different two different paper types: Glossy, Matte
  • No color correction option.
  • Kodak paper was used for the other sized prints which is only average quality and light stock
  • Cropping is user friendly, but there no resolution warning indicator to show if you’re cropping too much for the selected size.
  • Standard Shipping is 5-10 business days after processing, which they were able to meet.

Packaging

  • 11x14 rolled up, making it hard to get flat. When flattened small ripple marks appear on the photo
  • Outer packaging for the other prints is fairly sturdy, and the 8x10 prints had a cardboard insert for protection, which is good.
 

 

 

 



Details per photo

In all the photo collages below, the top left corner image is the original photo.

Photo 1


http://www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-1
This image was used for the 11x14 print and was selected for it’s neutral tones. Typically printers tended to warm this image rather than leaving it as is. Overall the majority of the printers rated average with this photo. See all images here.

Photo 2


www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-2/
This was one of the three 8x10 prints and was chosen for the green tones and bright skin tones. Most printers underexposed slightly or warmed up the skin tones. Overall the majority of the printers rated average with this photo. See all images here.

Photo 3


www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-3/
This was one of the three 8x10 prints and was chosen for the yellow and blue tones and contrast between fair skin and dark hair. Most printers underexposed slightly or warmed up the skin tones. Overall the majority of the printers rated average with this photo. See all images here.

Photo 4



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-4/
This was one of the three 8x10 prints and was chosen for the excessive yellow tones and fine hair around the head.. This was by far the hardest image for printers to replicate with most images actually looking damaged around the fine hair on the top of the head. Many of the prints were unacceptable. Only two printers scored a 4 ezprints and Smugmug. See all images here.

Photo 5



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-5/
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the high contrast black and white image. Overall the majority of the printers rated above average with this photo with only a few have some slight color tones visible. See all images here.

Photo 6



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-6/
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the low contrast black and white image. Overall the majority of the printers rated above average with this photo with only a few have some slight color tones visible. See all images here.

Photo 7



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-7/
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the strong yellow color and fine detail in the flower. This was one of the lowest scoring images, with most printers failing to replicate the correct yellow tone and hold the detail in the flower. See all images here.

Photo 8



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-8/
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the strong red color. This scored toward the top of all the images with only some slight discoloring of the original red color. See all images here.

Photo 9



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-9/ 
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the strong blue color. This scored toward the top of all the images with only some slight discoloring of the original blue color. See all images here.

Photo 10



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-10/
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the excessive green tones. This was another really low scoring image with the biggest problem being discoloring. Only four printers scored a 4 or above ProDPI, Nations, ezprints and Smugmug. See all images here.

Photo 11



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-11/
This was one of the seven 5x7 prints and was chosen for the strong yellow color and fine detail in the flower. This was another really low scoring image with the biggest problem being discoloring. See all images here.

Photo 12



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-12/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong blue, red & white color. This scored toward the middle of all the images with some underexposing of the image. The worst print here was from Shutterfly that had obvious banding in the blue sky. See all images here.

Photo 13



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-13/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong yellow color. This scored toward the middle of all the images with some discoloring or underexposing of the image. See all images here.

Photo 14



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-14/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong black. This scored toward the top of all the images with some underexposing of the image. See all images here.

Photo 15



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-15/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong mid tone colors. This scored top of all the images with little problems. See all images here.

Photo 16



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-16/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong mid tone colors. This scored second top of all the images with little problems. See all images here.

Photo 17



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-17/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong blue color. This scored toward the top of all the images with some underexposing of the image. See all images here.

Photo 18



www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-18/
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong multi colors and white. This scored toward the middle of all the images with some underexposing of the image. See all images here.

Photo 19


www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-19/ 
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the strong red and white. This scored toward the middle of all the images with some underexposing of the image caused by the amount of white in the image. See all images here.


Photo 20


http://www.emmett-photography.com/Other/Online-Printing-Test/Photo-20/ 
This was one of the nine 6x4 prints and was chosen for the autumn color. This scored toward the middle of all the images with some discoloring of the image favoring red rather than the green. See all images here.

I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have any questions or comments you can email them to emmett.photography@gmail.com