Last month I started ordering prints of my photos to do a side-by-side comparison of some of the most popular online ordering sites. You all were so helpful with your recommendations and with card sending season upon us, I wanted to make sure I was making the best choice for us. I ordered from MPIX, Snapfish and my old favourite, AdoramaPix. Here was my criteria: I wanted the best possible looking print and the one that most closely resembled what came out of my camera. That means: no cropping, no colour correction/filters, and something like a matte finish. I wasn't worried about photo books or other products: just prints. I ordered the same prints on the same night from all three suppliers. It was actually four orders, because I requested both the budget and the e-surface prints from MPIX.
Here's the deal: MPIX and Snapfish both come out with near constant promotions making their prints the cheapest. I will tell you that I was pretty shocked that between these two, I preferred Snapfish for print quality. I will probably use them again if I'm ordering in large quantities for Christmas cards or whatever. In the end, AdoramaPix still has my heart. I could opt for no cropping, their uploader is much improved from the last time I used them, and their print price (without promotion) is slightly cheaper than full price prints elsewhere. I also chose their Lustre paper, which I'm pretty happy with. More importantly, when placed side by side, the colours and tones from Adorama were the most true to what I had taken. This is especially true when it came to Augie and Manny's skin tones. Mpix had them looking a little grey and snapfish upped the contrast in a significant way.
Here's the thing: I'm a average-to-fair picture taker, but if I'm going to go to the trouble of having the photos printed and hopefully put into books, I want them looking the way I took them (however flawed). It might be different if I only took photos of people's faces or groups of people in a commemorative way-- then I don't think it would be so important. But so many of my pictures are of the mundane and everyday variety, and I'd like to think that what makes them worth taking, is what also makes them worth printing. Or that's what I tell my hard drive, anyway.
So. Now to start getting these bad boys in albums that are neither non-corosive or toxic or made from animal parts (is that a thing?), and that will not require a home equity loan with which to purchase. Mo' photos, mo' problems, is what I always say.
I do, I really do.
*(For film photos I would still drive out to Blue Moon in St. John's, and I know lots of my people use Citizens in town for both film and digital.)