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Online photo printing recommendations

Discussion in 'Photography Issues' started by Larry Peterson, Mar 4, 2016.

  1. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    I have some JPGs that I would like to have printed and then frame them for myself. They are in the 12x18 size range; photos and posters. I don't have a high quality printer so I took a quick look online and saw a zillion places for printing online. Everything from Shutterfly, Snapfish, Walmart, Walgreen's, FedEx Office, etc, etc, etc.

    Any recommendations for a place that does high quality printing. My walls are waiting. :)
     
  2. CB Art & Framing

    CB Art & Framing SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Costco can be good.
    Millers.
     
  3. DVieau2

    DVieau2 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ok, I'll make a few heads explode here.

    After 30 years of photofinishing I now have a pretty high regard for Costco, Walmart and Sams.

    I like these guys because I can pick up at the store. Also.... the quality parameters of photo printing is controlled by the Manufacturer trained engineers ( Usually Fuji). These guys are good.! This also means the unskilled technicians are button pushers only and if a machine is out of parameter they stop until it's fixed.

    Consistency from day to day and size to size is the most important thing.

    Here's how to get the most out of your project:
    Do your own sizing so you don't run into aspect ration issues. ( (#1 problem in any lab)
    Send all orders to be printed without color control. (A feature they have for pros)
    Then send a test print for 4x6 This will cost 19 cents.
    Go home and fine tune your image in photoshop and send it again.
    Maybe another 4x6 or if little work is needed go for the big print.

    No guarantees of perfection but it works pretty darn well.
    Oh.... and be nice to the staff no matter what the result.

    Doug
     
    FramerKat and cvm like this.
  4. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    One thing to keep in mind is some of the sources offer specific sizes so you need to do a little work to fool the system. Costco here offers 20x24 but not 18x24 so if you hand them an 18x24 file it will expand the 18 to 20 and crop the ends. I have customers who use them create a solid black canvas in PS and then drag the 18x24 on top of that so it won't expand and crop their photo. Wal-Mart now acts as a fulfillment service for many of the online sources so you place the order through brand X and the printing is done by WM and shipped to you with brand X label on it.

    When I order ink for one of my Epson printers it is one or two cartridges. When the large sources order ink it is a thousand of one, 4,000 of another 15,000 of another and so on. If you are using truly ready to print files the big guys provide excellent results because they are printing a million photos for every one the small custom shops print. When you need custom work you are best served by the independents who can make the adjustments you need.
     
    Carmichael likes this.
  5. snafu

    snafu MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Carmichael likes this.
  6. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    actually a lot of the LARGE places don't use ink. there lab prints they do are C-type prints, i.e. wet lab. using RA4 paper and chemicals

    the cost per print is massively cheaper than ink based (dry labs) when your doing volume
     
  7. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The Costco here still has one Fuji wet system in use and the prices are dirt cheap with the prints being total garbage.
     
    caliguy37 likes this.
  8. stcstc

    stcstc SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    the fuji system works well if the person using it knows how to. generally the issue is crappy maintenance and bad user input :)
     
    FramerKat likes this.
  9. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The one they are using here is very old and it produces the sticky, prone to fading prints. The only reason they keep it in service is to sell 20x24 prints for less than $4.
     
  10. DVieau2

    DVieau2 SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I've used Costco with good results. All aspects of the process are checked in the morning and of anything is out of tolerance they shut down till it's fixed.
    Have you ever noticed how often these places are off line.:)

    Not sure what you mean by sticky and prone to fading? Next time your in look for the model.

    Fuji has been producing RA4 print processors for 30 plus years and believe it or not the print that spits out of the end is essentially the same. Yes, from film or digital the RA4 paper and process hasn't changed much. Now the printing....that another story.

    Doug
     
  11. Jeff Rodier

    Jeff Rodier SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    The Fuji printer they have in service uses 20 inch rolled paper. The paper is glossy but it is very tacky to the touch and the quality of the prints is very poor. They also have high quality printers in this same store but the cost the better quality printing is 250% of the Fuji. I'm not a member of Costco so I haven't checked out the model but the Local Sams Club and several of the Wal-Mart locations here are using several new models of the Epson printers. These are all walk in service so it has nothing to do with any online shipped prints.

    We have 8 Wal-Marts plus a Sams Club within a 25 mile radius here and each location has a different assortment of printers in the store.
     
  12. Daniel Smith

    Daniel Smith Grumbler in Training

    Doing Photo workshops and seeing prints people bring for critique sessions has given me more experience with some labs than I want at times. I can pick out Shutterfly prints most of the time and it is not because of their high quality.
    My experience comes from doing custom B&W printing as well as Cibachrome/Ilfochrome custom printing using contrast masking.
    I like the work from Bay Lab and White House Custom Color these days in the US. Others are good as well but I have found consistent results I like with these. In Canada, Bob Carnie Printmaking and Elevator Lab, both in Toronto do good work.
    WalMart and the like have good machines but individual help is too often not sufficiently interested to get the best from them.
    A lot depends on what you are looking for in quality.
    Top quality and individual attention take more time and experience. Going with a professional lab is worth it to me for many prints I don't do myself. I usually do a few prints so the lab and I are 'on the same page' with quality, color balance and communication. That is worth more to me than quickie results from places where quality is hit and miss.
     
  13. Cheri Sharp

    Cheri Sharp Grumbler in Training

    Go to a pro lab, or find a photographer that can get them printed for you professionally.
     

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