There are many options available online for printing your photographs, but they are not all created equal. This is the first post in a series about comparing online photo-printing labs and companies. This post provides some background about the six retailers compared. The next post will provide direct head-to-head comparisons of the photo printing results.
The Nitty-Gritty Details about Online Photo-Printing Companies
(Note, all prices were current as of the publication of this article, July 2015. Please check individual sites for current pricing.)
ProDPIProDPI is a professional-photography-focused company, but I included it in my review because it received top marks from another photography print review. Registering for the site includes a question about the name and web site of your photography business, but it is apparently not required for you to be a pro photographer.
Standard 4x6 prints are available for $0.69 each with a luster finish. Shipping is free for orders over $12 (and orders must be a minimum of $12 or will be rounded up to $12). Color correction is an additional $0.75 per image.
Nations Photo LabNations bills itself as a high-quality print company for professional and hobbyist photographers alike. Photography prints are available, as are a wide-range of photography gifts, photo books, canvas wraps, frames, and more. Online ordering is available through a standard web-based upload as well as a downloaded upload program (a ROES, remote order entry system).
Standard 4x6 prints are available in both lustre and glossy finishes, starting at $0.27 each. Print upgrade options include metallic prints ($0.34 each) and linen texture (add $0.11 each). Color correction is also available (add $0.11-0.13 each). Shipping starts at $3.95 but is free for orders over $50.
MpixMpix is the consumer-focused arm of professional photographing printing site Miller's. Mpix offers photography prints in addition to photography gifts, photo books, canvas wraps, and more. Online ordering is available through a standard web-based upload.
Standard 4x6 prints are available on e-surface paper, starting at $0.29 each and that includes color correction. (You may choose a "do not color correct" option when ordered.) Metallic prints and "true black and white" (matte finish) start at $0.59 each. Upgrades include a a luster coating is an additional $0.44 per image. Shipping starts at $3.95.
There is also an "economy" option for 4x6 prints for $0.19 which does not include color correction or any other upgrade options. Economy prints also come with a caution that they are "not eligible for reprinting due to brightness, color, or contrast issues."
ShutterflyShutterfly is a popular online photo retailer that sells a wide range of photography-related products, including prints, gifts, photo books, canvas wraps, cards, and invitations. Online ordering is available through a standard web-based upload.
Standard 4x6 prints are available in glossy or matte finishes for $0.15 each. There is an option to add a personalized message to the back of prints (but I have never had this actually work). You can either have prints shipped to you or pick them up at a local retailer, including Target ($0.19 each), Walgreens ($0.29 each or $0.20 each over 50 prints), and CVS ($0.29 each). Shipping charges and coupons only apply to online orders, not in-store pickups. (Coupon codes are frequent and generous, if you subscribe to their newsletter.)
(Note: Snapfish is another online photo retailer, similar to Shutterfly. I did not include Snapfish in this comparison because I had several quality problems with products from them.)
TargetTarget Photo also offers its own photo-printing web site, where you can order prints to be shipping to you or to be picked up in store. Online ordering is available through an (oft-buggy) web-based upload.
Standard 4x6 prints are available for $0.19 in store (glossy only) or $0.15 when shipping, in either matte or glossy finishes. Luster is available for an additional $0.20 per print. Shipping starts at $1.75.
WalgreensWalgreens Photo offers online print-to-store and shipped options. Online ordering is available through a web-based upload.
Standard 4x6 prints are available for $0.29 each in store or $0.12 each shipped. Glossy prints are available in-store and shipped, while matte finish is only available shipped. Shipping starts at $0.99 for five or less prints and rises from there.
And the winner is ...Check out the next post, Best Options for Printing Your Photographs, which provides a head-to-head comparison of the printed results from all six labs.
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