The Finest On-line Photograph Printing Service for 2021

Printique was our runner-up in this guide, but that was almost entirely because it offered an app that lets you upload pictures from your mobile devices, even though that app won’t let you place an order. You need to go to the website on a computer to do this. Now that Nations has an app, we didn’t feel the need to keep that recommendation.

Aspen Creek Photo was our first choice in a previous version of this guide. In our tests, we put the color accuracy of the images above that of any other service we tested and loved the intuitive ordering interface. Unfortunately, we dropped our recommendation after hearing from some readers of delays in fulfilling their Aspen Creek orders, changes in company prices for smaller prints, and conflicting messages regarding the company’s future.

Mpix is ​​one of the most popular photo services with a mobile app that allows you to order photos right from your smartphone. In our tests, however, we were disappointed with the inability to print smartphone photos without significant cropping. Smartphones, along with point-and-shoot and Micro Four Thirds cameras, have sensors that produce 4: 3 aspect ratio images, and Mpix doesn’t offer small print sizes that match that ratio. When you send Mpix a smartphone photo to make a 4 by 6 print with an aspect ratio of 3: 2, your image will be enlarged to fill the extra width of the paper, with portions of the image cut off at the sides a result.

If you create images with careful consideration of composition, this forced cropping is likely a deal breaker. For example, EZprints, RitzPix, and York Photo offer smartphone-friendly print size with an aspect ratio of 4: 3, and Printique, Aspen Creek Photo, and Nations Photo Lab give you the ability to print your image untrimmed regardless of the aspect ratio mismatch. At this point in time, Mpix doesn’t offer any of these options.

In our blind print tests, while no company was a runaway winner, Mpix’s photos were ranked the least preferred choice more than any other contender. With an image quality that was below that of the competition, as well as the lack of support for images in smartphone format and the medium prices, Mpix simply did not make a convincing choice against our main selection.

Bay Photo offers small print sizes optimized for smartphone photos as well as sturdy packaging for your order. In our tests, however, the print output was extremely mediocre. In our blind pressure test, the participants rarely made a first or last choice in direct comparison with our other competitors, which is usually a reasonable second choice. We suspect the prints would look good to most people, but we’ve had a lot of competitors who are more likely to get positive responses.

No other service we tested offers lower prices than Snapfish, but this service produced some of the most disappointing results. The 8-by-10 and 4-by-6 prints suffered from high contrast (which means less detail in shadows and highlights) and our portraits were noticeably orange in skin tones. On closer inspection, sharpening artifacts were also visible along the detail edges. We were also not satisfied with the packaging: Smaller prints are delivered in a thin cardboard envelope without additional padding to protect them from rough handling. The 11×14 print came in a sufficiently thick tube, but no padding was put inside to protect the print edges from the tube’s end caps, resulting in a bent print (see below).

Snapfish shipped our 11 by 14 print in a tube for protection. However, since there was no internal padding, the print on the top edge was kinked after being pinched into the end cap during shipping. Photo: Amadou Diallo

A print from RitzPix also arrived damaged. The company shipped our 11 by 14 print in a flat envelope between thin carrier plates (as you can see on the back of cheaper photo frames). Since the shipping envelope was only marginally larger than the 11×14 photo, the corner of the print was nicked when the edge of the package was crushed during shipping. RitzPix could have prevented the damage by simply using a larger envelope, or better yet, a box, as several other stores did. The inadequate packaging was especially disappointing as the company charged us a whopping $ 14.95 for shipping, more than double the average shipping cost of the other stores we ordered from.

Online printing services Ritzpix damage This 11×14 print from RitzPix was damaged when its under-sized envelope was crushed on the corner during shipping. Photo: Amadou Diallo

Like Snapfish, EZprints was one of the few services whose prints stood out as unusually poor. Each print had a fuzzy, faded look like it was covered by a veil. These were the least sharp photos of the bundle, and clear tone areas had a slightly blotchy appearance. Like all other services we tested, EZprints uses a wet chemical printing process. The photos were printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper. Other service providers used this paper with much more gratifying results, so we can only attribute the poor results from EZprints to quality control and not to the equipment or the development process.

Our order from Shutterfly was the second most expensive in our tests, and the print quality was average at best. Our biggest complaint was about the packaging. The small prints came in a thin flat envelope and the 11 x 14 came in a tube, resulting in a curled print that had to be flattened before being displayed. (Note: The quickest way to release a print is to wrap it around a large diameter tube in the opposite direction from the original curl and then roll it up. This may take some practice without accidentally creasing or curling the print. A much safer approach is to lay the prints flat under some weight for a day or two.)

Although a tube is required for very large prints, other competitors have been able to ship our 11×14 print layer and still offer adequate protection. Given the choice, we’d rather avoid having to flatten any pressure.

Online printing services Shipping Tube Curl While a shipping tube can provide significant protection, the print you receive has a strong curl in it. Photo: Amadou Diallo

York Photo sent us prints that consistently had a warmer, less accurate color cast than those of the top performing stores. Our 11 by 14 print comes in a tube, and although York Photo put the end padding on the inside to avoid the kind of damage we saw printing Snapfish, we still prefer a shipping option this size to avoid having to loosen the pressure print. It’s also worth noting that the York Photo 11-by-14 print was supplied by District Photo Inc., the same photo finisher that owns Snapfish.

Online printing services that wrap a photo The safest – if not the fastest – way to release a print is to sandwich it between sheets of cardboard and leave it under some weight for 24 to 48 hours (coffee table books are perfect). Photo: Amadou Diallo

Zazzle lets you make photo prints, but has a user interface designed for one-off jobs. You cannot upload more than 10 images at a time. When selecting a print size, each image is drawn individually over a print size template on its own order page. This is way too boring to make even a handful of separate prints.

Winkflash has a steady stream of very negative reviews. Apparently the company was recently sold to a new owner, and during the transition, many customers lost access to their photos hosted on the company’s servers. Coupled with the fact that the only customer support available is through a web form – there’s no phone number or even an email option – Winkflash was an easy layoff.

With FreePrints, as the name suggests, you can get up to 1,000 4-by-6 prints per year for free, even though you pay for shipping. Judging from the limited information on the one-way website, you have to do it all through a phone app. Since virtually no information about the company, the prints or the ordering process is available online, we fall back on the maxim: “If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

SmugMug is a platform for creating a website showcasing your photography (for a monthly subscription) with photo printing offered as a service to anyone who wants to buy prints of your work. This feature is of limited use to most people. The actual printing services are handled through partnerships with laboratories like Bay Photo, EZprints and WHCC, from which you can order directly instead.

Amazon Prints offers 4-by-6 prints of 9 ¢ each that go with low-cost competitors like Snapfish and offer free shipping. Amazon Prime members who already use the company’s Prime Photos service to store their images can order prints of those images directly. We placed an order with the same test files that we submitted to our other competitors. The ordering process on Amazon was very easy. Print quality fell in the middle of the pack – certainly not the best we’ve seen (skin tones towards orange), but not the worst. The photos arrived within six working days. We were disappointed with the packaging, which consisted of flat mail with two thin sheets of cardboard. The entire package was easy to hold, so it wasn’t surprising that one of the prints arrived with a corner kick.

At this point in time, the Amazon service has significant limitations. Everyone who takes photos with a smartphone should know that, unlike all the other services we tested, Amazon does not allow you to convert these smartphone pictures with an aspect ratio of 4: 3 in full size (with frame) to a 4 x 6 Print sheet. Instead, these images need to be cropped so you may lose your head or limbs if you’ve taken tightly framed portraits.