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Best Online Photo Printing Services

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Best Online Photo Printing Services

From $13 per month

Best for printing business cards and postcards

I covered SXSW for WIRED back in 2006 and one of the strange things I remember was that everyone I met was handing out these clever little mid-sized business cards that came from a company called Moo. Moo still offers those cards ($21 for 100 of them), but it has also grown into a full-service printer that can make anything from business cards to personalized postcards to water bottles. Moo wouldn’t be my first choice for photographs, as that’s not really his specialty, but for artwork, invitations, postcards, brochures, and just about everything else, I’ve been impressed.

I printed some postcards with some custom designs (including photos and some of my kids’ artwork) and was impressed with the accuracy of the colors. All the paper I’ve tried has been high quality and the color matching is probably the best of all the services I’ve tried. You can upload your own designs for most things or use Moo’s templates, which offer some customization options. That would be my only real criticism: Moo’s online tools don’t offer as many customization options as I would like. Fortunately, it’s easy to do your own work in free software like GIMP and then upload your files as PDF or JPG.

From $21 for business cards and $23 for postcards

Printing Services to Avoid

Amazon Photo Printing: This service produced the worst images, not only of this particular test, but also the worst prints I have ever seen. The best thing I can say about it is that it’s fast. I had my prints in less than 24 hours. The problem is that of the 25 prints I ordered, eight had printing errors. Convinced that a 30 percent failure rate must be some kind of fluke, I shot another round of 25 (different) images, and this time seven of them were printed poorly. I guess it’s some kind of progress, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I didn’t bother trying again and suggest you avoid Amazon’s photo printing service.

Walmart/Target/CVS/Walgreens: Technically, 1-hour photo kiosks didn’t die. They infiltrated pharmacy chains. There is nothing wrong with these services. They are convenient and still the fastest way to print your images, as uploaded jobs are typically processed within a few hours. But results vary greatly from store to store. Like the old 1-hour services, the quality of the prints you get depends on the condition of the machine and the skill of the technician working that day. You may be able to get some good prints at your local store and it may be worth checking out if you’re not happy with other options, but for most people this option is very hit or miss.

Costco: Costco used to have in-house photo printing and it was surprisingly good for the price. Today, however, the company outsources it to Shutterfly. If you are a member and can get a discount or find it convenient, do it. Just know that you can get the same results using Shutterfly directly.

What to look for in a printer

If none of these services fit your needs, or if you prefer to use a local service, here are some things to keep in mind. First of all, unfortunately, these days your local store may be shipping your printed jobs to somewhere like Nations, so ask where they print before you dive in (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but you’ll probably end up paying). a free broker fee). Here are some other things to ask about.

  • Photographic paper: Paper quality varies wildly, but the quality prints in our tests were made on Kodak Endura and Fujifilm papers. Reputable printers will tell you what paper they use; avoid it if it’s not from a name you recognize.
  • Kind of paper: Do you want brilliant prints? Gloss? Mate? Metal? Fuji’s deep matte? There is no right answer here, but you should choose one. This is one of the reasons I love Printique. Can order a set of sample prints in the majority of finishes offered by the service. Check to see if the printer you’re interested in offers something similar (and if you’re curious about a specific service, drop a link in the comments below and I’ll give it a try).
  • Extensions: How big can you print? This will depend on where the images come from, but a good rule of thumb for those who primarily shoot with phones is to stay no larger than 8 x 10. Files from any DSLR or point-and-shoot camera made in the last decade will probably go to 11 x 14. without problems, possibly even at 16 x 20. See the next section for some tips on how to get the best prints from your images.

How to get better impressions

We used a mix of images that represented a good cross-section of the types of photographs most of us have. This includes green forests, blue, brown and gray seascapes in city photos, portraits, macro images, close-ups, strong images. bokehstacked images with deep depth of field and more.

We also don’t limit testing to good images. We tested a lot of blurry images, overexposed and faded photos, and photos where details could be lost due to shadows. In other words, images like most of us have on our phones and cameras. Some images came from RAW files we edited on desktop software, others were sent directly from our phones, and we also pulled them from social media posts.

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