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There are many sites out there that offer printing services. I am not interested in photo hosting websites such as SmugMug.

What is the best in reference to the following criteria:

  • Inexpensive - Quality paper and ink but still inexpensive
  • Fulfillment- Order processing and shipping
  • Speed - Account creation, uploading photos, customizing order, checking out
  • Options - Varying print sizes and quantity options
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5  
What country did you want the results delivered to, and how large were you thinking? –  Rowland Shaw Aug 20 '10 at 18:17
1  
Also color fidelity is a critical factor. Do they have a color managed process and is it a good one? Do they do magic color correction on your files before printing? That you definitely don't want. –  Reid Aug 20 '10 at 19:11
    
Best is going to be tough to call, because as seen, there are at least 3 good answers here. –  Alan Aug 20 '10 at 19:28
1  
This would seem to be a good topic for community wiki. –  John Cavan Aug 20 '10 at 22:39
    
I was assuming the results would be delivered in the United States. And yes, despite attempting objectivity this is much more of a community wiki topic. (Not sure how we go about declaring it that?) –  Freddy Aug 21 '10 at 15:54

16 Answers 16

In India, I have been using Zoomin.com from quite a few years. They have almost cheapest rates of all and their quality is commendable. Their shipping partners are Fedex and Bluedart who are known to deliver stuff in a day after shipping to all major cities in India. (Yes Fedex is really competent in India, trust me).

Other than quality and fast shipping, they have photo retouching options which are basic but work well. They haven't ever gotten the colors wrong even in cheapest of the prints for me. They have great tools to create photo gifts online. Their customer service has been great for me so far. Any issue or question I raised got answered in less than a day (within few hours to be precise).

I think they ship internationally as well and allow you to pay in USD. I just checked and their shipping rate is around $4.50 for photo prints.

P.S. It would be a good idea to search for discount coupon codes for Zoomin as they always have some offer going on. Always.

Edit: I once ordered the free flipbook they offer after sign up and I loved it. It is the best thing I have printed so far.

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Probably a bit pricey if you're just looking for a few prints, but if it's high quality you're after and unique printing and mounting options (they do awesome face mounted acrylic prints) then Bumblejax has been awesome. Fast turn around and the best customer service.

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I strongly recommend Whitewall

http://www.whitewall.com/

A bit pricey for routine printing of snaps - but excellent value for those times you want a really good quality result.

They are particularly good for larger format prints and I was very impressed with a recent print mounted on Aluminum and under acrylic.

A nice feature is that you are not confined to the standard dimensions for prints - you can crop to any aspect ratio.

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You could give RedBubble a try. Their site is very easy to use, and creating an account takes minutes. When you upload your work, you can configure it for prints of a wide variety. You set your own markup on each print for third-party sales, if that is your goal. You can also keep prints private if you wish to purchase them yourself. Additionally, you can purchase your own prints at a discount (wholesale cost, as far as I gather).

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I've used West Coast Imaging with good success (they are incredible) but they aren't set up for cheap, high-volume, smallish prints. But, they have a sister company, Aspen Creek Photo, that's closer to what you're looking for. I haven't used them yet but if my experience with WCI is any indication, ACP is probably very, very good.

Hmmm... looking at SnapFish prices, ACP is quite a bit more expensive (25¢ per print and up), and it's likely they're not as easy to use. I think it depends on what you need. Lots of fast, cheap prints that are pretty darn good-> SnapFish. Lost of quick, reasonably-priced, but high-end quality prints-> ACP. Some ultra-high-end but kind of pricey prints with top-shelf service-> WCI.

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Edited this after re-re-reading your question and comparing SnapFish prices. Depends on what you want. If you want a lots of good, fast and cheap 4x6 prints, my answer is not going to cut it. If you want larger or custom prints to display, i'd go with ACP/WCI. –  bill weaver Sep 8 '11 at 1:22

I've been happy with Shutterfly but never thought about in that kind of detail. They do well with color though you have to opt out of their magic process.

Update 1/9/2011:

Unfortunately, I'm not longer all that happy with Shutterfly. My last batch of prints (the first in a long time) came out poorly, so I sent this (excerpted) inquiry to try to figure out where the screw-up happened:

I have a question about the prints in my order [number]. Specifically, the color is wrong; they are a bit too dark. I have a calibrated workflow and I turned off VividPics on everything. I'm trying to figure out whether I did something wrong or the problem is on your end. [...]

... which resulted in this (excerpted) response:

On checking your order number [number], I see that you have turned off vivid pics for this order. The images will be printed as you have uploaded to the site. Please edit the image using an image editing software and place a new order for the prints. We do value your Business and have credited your account with 6 free 5x7 prints and 2 8x10 prints so that you can place a new order for the prints. Please note that this offer expires on 2011/1/31. [...]

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Shutterfly also adds the ability to create a small community to share photos with. They are a National Sponsor of AYSO (youth soccer) so teams get there own sites were the parents can upload pictures they took of the team, and other parents on the team can order prints of their kids. Also the coach can use the site to publish team info like schedules, etc. –  BillN Aug 20 '10 at 21:49

In the Netherlands I've always used profotonet.

Decent prices, great quality prints, quick delivery times, and most importantly: the least hassle with payment ever. You don't need a credit card or paypall or similar for payment. all that's required is a valid email address, mailing address and optionally a different billing address. They'll send you the bill digitally, and also a paper copy with the photo's and ask that you'll pay them through your banking account.

They immediately start printing after you've uploaded your photo's. Usually you'll have them within two working days, sometimes even one (depends on time of ordering (before or after noon) and size; packages take longer than envelopes). Of course, they only deliver within the Netherlands, so I guess that's how they minimise their risk (you can be tracked down if you don't pay).

You can upload via the browser (they even a plain old HTML 4 website for dire situations), or through a downloaded little program. Paper types that can be chosen are: glossy, matte, "Fuji Digital Professional DP II Glossy Pearl", and for the black & white fans: Ilford glossy or lustre.

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I have been very happy with Photo Pipe. The print quality (in my opinion) is much higher than SnapFish or Shutterfly. I never did try to opt out of SnapFish's "color correction" or whatever it's called, though, so maybe that was the problem. Photo Pipe runs specials all the time for free shipping, % discounts on certain sizes, etc. once you sign up to receive their emails.

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The big downside to snapfish is they really hammer you on the shipping. If you are a member then you are sure to get emails of special promotions like the one going on now that sells 99 4x6 prints for 99 cents.

I will take them on on that. I expect to pay about $6.00 in total but even with this it comes out to under 7 cents per print.

A more concrete example is I placed an order with snapfish where i was to get 365 prints for free after spending 10$. So I bought 10$ of prints at 9 cents each (that is about 110 prints). The total was in the ball park of 35$ because they claimed to have to pay a lot to ship almost 500 pictures. Indeed the package was heavy, but even still that came out to be about 7 cents a picture.

I found with snapfish if you get a great deal or promotion it makes sense to order with them otherwise they will break the bank.

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I'm a big fan of photobox who operate in the UK and across Europe (but not the USA). They are

  • decent value,
  • support standard prints up to 12"x10", poster prints up to 45"x30", along with other options for printing on canvas or acrylic,
  • have a large range of options for things they'll print your photos on mugs, mouse mats etc.

Standard prints have a very quick turn around - arriving the next day is not unusual.

I've read the occasional review, and most seem to reckon they don't apply post-processing to your images, so if you've got your image just right it should come out right without extra sharpening being applied. For large prints there is some support for colour profiles but they "prefer to provide customers with a free calibration print to use". (More on the technical details.)

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2  
I asked a question about making black-and-white prints and their support team say that they don't post-process. Also worth noting, that reply only took a couple of hours. Generally a happy customer for a number if years now. –  Stephen Darlington Aug 22 '10 at 18:25
    
I used them the other week to get 3 poster size prints. They were really fast (arrived the next day!) and the quality was exceptional. –  Sean Aug 27 '10 at 12:54
    
Looks like they don't have a presence in the US. I edited the answer to reflect this. –  Reid Jan 3 '11 at 23:51

If you are a member of Costco, their prints are great. The prints, with ICC, match my calibrated monitor.

Depending on the location, you can get prints in Lustre, which is the professional cross between Glossy and Matte. I much prefer Lustre to either.

They also supply you with ICC color profiles you can apply before uploading. They use Dry Creek Photo. Make sure to turn off their auto-correction.

At mine, they use a Noritsu QSS-3411 with Fuji Crystal Archive paper, and a Epson 7880 with Fujifilm Papers for posters.

Here are their current prices:

  • 4x6 $0.13
  • 5x7 $0.39
  • 8x10 $1.49
  • 8x12 $1.49
  • 11x14 $2.99
  • 12x18 $2.99
  • 8x8 $1.49
  • 12x12 $2.99
  • wallets(4) $0.39
  • 16x20 $5.99
  • 20x30 $8.99
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I've recently done a survey of the cheap ~€0.10 per 3:2 photo sites in Europe, and selected 10 photo's with different difficulties, than used 2 persons to each select the best print of every photo.

The results, 90% of the selected pictures were the SnapFish prints, so that made it easy for me, for €0.09 per photo, and the ability to disable any on site photo editing (print original as supplied) SnapFish is a very nice way to print your pictures.

But off course you should try this yourself, most sites have a introduction offer like 25 prints for 3 euro and no shipping, just select some good pictures with color, sharpness and detail. And create a blind test to compare them.

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Excellent information, that's kind of what I was looking for. Thanks for the advice, I've currently got 4 pictures coming in from snapfish, to do exactly as you mentioned. (I also wanted to test how well they looked in comparison to my printer, in case I ever got in a bind and needed to use it). –  Freddy Aug 23 '10 at 13:22

I highly recommend Mpix. They produce great quality prints at very reasonable prices, and have a variety of products available

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I also like MPix, the results are good and I've been very impressed with the care they take in packaging large prints. –  Kendall Helmstetter Gelner Aug 23 '10 at 8:29
    
I've been using Mpix.com for 6+ years. I've been very happy. I calibrate my monitor regularly, and check "do not color correct" when I order. The prints always come back looking just as I expect. –  Henry Peach Aug 23 '10 at 13:44
    
I highly recommend Mpix.com because they have certified developers. The photos are reasonably priced, and the color is correct and lasts long. Mpix also uses high-quality photo paper and color, so you will get excellent pictures with natural skin tones, etc. I can say that this website is by far the best and they are cheaper compare from the other websites I've checked. –  Chad Jul 31 '12 at 21:20

Best is going to be subjective. I use Ezprints, and I love them.

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www.AdoramaPix.com Reasonably priced and I've always found the quality to be top notch.

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Wholeheartedly agree. I've had AdoramaPix print an entire run for a show and the only mistakes were the couple I made uploading... I use them frequently and am always satisfied. –  Bryce Alan Flurie Aug 23 '10 at 17:00
    
I just got back 4x6 test prints sent to AdoramaPix and Bay Photo, with and without color correction, metallic and glossy. Bay Photo was ever so slightly sharper. You won't notice unless your file is already tack sharp. Both services were awesome. I'll never use Walgreens again! –  Robert Claypool Sep 29 '12 at 20:29

They're not the cheapest, but the quality is superb, so I'm a fan of WHCC.

Also... the account setup isn't exactly quick, but that's a one time process including a test print job, which helps ensure that you get accurate printing.

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What do you send in the test print job? I mean, how do you tell if you're getting what you expect? I can make that a top-level question if you want. –  jfklein13 Aug 20 '10 at 18:55
    
Basically anything you want, but I'd use at least one well known test print image, which aren't too hard to find: google.com/images?q=color+test+print Beyond that, use a few images that you have worked with, that you are sure of the color for. –  chills42 Aug 20 '10 at 20:25
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They are good. I've used them many times. –  Zak Sep 9 '11 at 1:29

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