Online Photo Labs
June 13, 2005 6:18 AM   Subscribe

I have 500+ digital pictures from our wedding/honeymoon. I want to have them printed, and I don't have a photo printer. What are your experiences with the online photo printer places - shutterfly, ofoto, etc.? Would I be better off just buying a photo printer? Mostly I just want basic 4x6 prints to put in a book; a few I want to have blown up.
posted by dpx.mfx to Computers & Internet (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We take all the digital stuff we want printed to Superstore or Costco, either on a memory card or a burned CD. .25 and .22 cents a print respectively and the results are on par with any 35mm minilab. Way cheaper than printing it your self even ignoring capital costs of equipment.

You could also check with any independent minilab in your area. With such a large order you may be able to negotiate a better price if your willing to wait a week - 10 days. I've had good luck with this with 35mm anytime I was developing more than 10-36 exp rolls.
posted by Mitheral at 6:27 AM on June 13, 2005

Having stuff printed by an online service is really easy. It doesn't cost any more to send it out than to do it on your own printer. And unless you want to do fine-grained control of colour, the results will probably be better than a consumer grade printer. I'm partial to for printing services, mostly because they are aimed at a more technical audience.
posted by Nelson at 6:28 AM on June 13, 2005

I recently had some digital photos printed at Wal-mart. You submit your photos online through their website, and pick them up in an hour at your local Wal-mart. I was pleased with the quality of the prints. They start at $.19.

Word of caution: While I have no experienced this myself, I read an article last week that claimed Wal-mart will refuse to print photos that they feel may have been taken by a professional (to prevent copyright violation).
posted by geeky at 6:38 AM on June 13, 2005

I used to do it online, but Walmart beats them all now. $0.22 per 4x6 — for 1-hour processing. And they use nice Fuji Frontier machines that are the same thing they use for their normal 1-hour processing. No complaints from me, except that killing an hour in Walmart can be excruciating. (And that sometimes the workstation where you put your images in is hogged by someone doing custom crops on 95 photos of their football player son.)
posted by smackfu at 6:38 AM on June 13, 2005

I second printroom!

Another thing to consider in terms of getting them done outside the home is the archival question. There are only a few inkjet printers (used with the right ink, in conjunction with the right paper) that will last without fading or changing to weird colors; some do so within a few months. Whereas the prints done at labs are done onto archival paper which is good for at least 50 years. (I have wedding photos from my husband's great grandfather, and it is really so great to have these materials in the family still.)
posted by xo at 6:45 AM on June 13, 2005

I had good experiences with Shutterfly. At the time Shutterfly and others were willing to give 30 free prints or so to new users, so you might try out a few services and see what you like.

Would I be better off just buying a photo printer?

posted by grouse at 6:49 AM on June 13, 2005

I've had *great* luck with Winkflash. I just printed 500 pictures with them, and they came in the mail within two days (they mail them Priority Mail from Rhode Island). The quality was exceptional, and if you do a search you'll find that most people find them to be the best "budget" online digital photo printer ahead of Ofoto, Snapfish, etc., in terms of both price and quality. They print on Fuji Crystal Archive paper on Frontier lab equipment. They just lowered their prices to 12 cents per 4x6, and shipping is 99 cents no matter what size the order (my 500 print order cost $9 to ship according to the shipping label, but I was only charged $0.99). Also, here's a coupon code to get your first 75 prints for 8 cents instead of 12. I recommend uploading pictures with their standalone photo manager program instead of the applet on their web page. If you're a super-nerd, there's also the unofficial BinkFlash command line uploader.
posted by zsazsa at 6:54 AM on June 13, 2005

I think you've converted me, zsazsa.
posted by smackfu at 6:56 AM on June 13, 2005

A quick look seems to show that both Walmart and Snapfish have also cut their prices to 12 cents recently. It looks like there's a price war on.
posted by zsazsa at 6:57 AM on June 13, 2005

It seems like there are some good options on the table. I just wanted to say that I was suprised with ofoto's quality when I got some a few months ago. The color saturation was perfect for really bright colorful pics.

Not to derail too much, but does anyone know when flickr is going to start offering prints?
posted by jmgorman at 7:02 AM on June 13, 2005

Response by poster: Ofoto=Kodak now right? I'm curious about their "perfect touch" system. Does anyone know what they actually do? I've been playing around with Picassa, and when I have the computer automatically adjust contract or color, I sometimes get strange results (I think this is becuase a lot of the pictures are of Ireland and they're really, really green. The computer seems to want to turn the color down, even though it really was just THAT GREEN). I'm afraid that they'd mess with it "automatically" and end up doing the same thing.

Thanks for all the help!
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:53 AM on June 13, 2005

I've been a long-time happy ofoto user but since they've changed their website to the "Kodak Photo Gallery" I've had trouble uploading pictures, and have heard of several other people having technical difficulties. (My grandma can't see my pictures on webtv anymore for some reason).

I've been thinking of going over to Snapfish for their 12 cent prints, but that Winkflash looks even better.
posted by jacobsee at 9:36 AM on June 13, 2005

I have always used Snapfish, and only have good things to say about them. Now that they are 12c a print, I'm even happier. I live in New York City and usually get my prints 2 days after I order them. I have had photos blown up to 8X12 size, and am always getting compliments on them.
posted by gaspode at 9:51 AM on June 13, 2005

I also have had really good luck with Snapfish.
posted by jasper411 at 10:05 AM on June 13, 2005

A third for Snapfish. As gaspode says, the shots have looked great even at 8x12. I haven't tried any of the competitors, though — but I think I'll have to order my next set from Winkflash after zsazsa's description.
posted by rafter at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2005

Just want to add that CostCo, Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite-Aid, and nearly every other budget-printing outfit use Fuji Frontier's to do their printing.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:17 AM on June 13, 2005

I find snapfish color depth and quality to be strongly lacking as compared to shutterfly. Going to try Printroom and Winkflash now. Oh, and for the love of everything, don't shop at walmart.
posted by pinto at 11:23 AM on June 13, 2005

I forgot to mention this comparison between several major online printers. The author had the same three pictures printed at each, and compared the results. It's a year old, so things may be different now.
posted by zsazsa at 12:42 PM on June 13, 2005

We also had about 500 pictures from our wedding. I uploaded them to Shutterfly, organized them into albums, then ordered various 4x6, 5x7 and 8x10 prints (all matte). They came out beautifully.

And not that you asked, but Shutterfly's albums come out fantastic as well. They have hardcover albums you can make; 20 pages will cost you about $25. You can lay the photos out almost anyway you like on the pages, include captions (or not). The covers are leather or suede, the photos are printed directly onto the paper (high quality photo paper). We ordered them for our parents and they loved them. The snapbooks are also nice (much, much smaller and simpler though).

Shutterfly's having a sale right now as well.

I swear I don't work for them. I was married a month ago tomorrow and just went through all of this myself! Congratulations on your marriage.
posted by suchatreat at 12:57 PM on June 13, 2005

Should have spent more time previewing...

The nice thing about using an online service (Shutterfly at least) is that they will alert you PRIOR TO ORDERING if they think you shouldn't print a certain photo in a certain size (if it will come out poorly). The brick-and-mortars just print away and you have to pay for it.
posted by suchatreat at 1:01 PM on June 13, 2005

Is it unfair of me to lower my opinion of the review zsazsa posted based on the dude's repeated misspelling of Fuji?

I also use Costco's services. The interface is reasonably quick & convenient, the price is right and the quality satisfactory, though that's subject to how well the staff calibrates and performs - I'd order 2 or 3 to try them out before I ordered 500. Just because my local lab is good doesn't mean yours is.
posted by phearlez at 1:45 PM on June 13, 2005

My brother uses Winkflash all the time & I've been impressed with the quality of the prints.
posted by belladonna at 7:23 PM on June 13, 2005

BTW, zsazsa's winkflash discount code gives you your initial prints for $0.06, not $0.08 — despite what the actual page says. I placed an order, so I'll see how they do. Since I'm in CT, shipping from RI is a big plus.
posted by smackfu at 7:50 AM on June 14, 2005

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