View Full Version : best digital photo printing service?
3rd of November 2001 (Sat), 20:19
haven't actually seen this mentioned all that often...i've had varying results (qualitywise) with printroom, shutterfly and ofoto...curious what others experiences have been...
some companies have a habit of "altering" (i.e. similar to the one hour photo at wal-mart) images to achieve the "best" quality...i thought that WE were the ones doing the touchup work in photoshop : )
point is...i tried three different service with the same set of pictures...and go figure...three different sets of results!
all images started from a D-30 or Olympus E-10...
oddly enough...those overly "blue" E-10 flash pictures came out looking peculiarly natural (it isn't my setup...it's completely calibrated) so i wonder what gives...
i'd love to know just which company will deliver the best results...
you just gotta admit...those D-30 images look simply beautiful on glossy kodak paper : )
5th of November 2001 (Mon), 12:44
I very very warmly recommend http://www.dotphoto.com to get outstanding quality prints of digital pictures. Joining dotphoto is free and you get 60 free 4x6 when you sign-up. You can then create albums to organize your pictures. Each picture can be up to 10MB in size. There is no limit on the space you can use up (although dotphoto asks to keep it under 1GB). Now comes the best part:
1. You can set your own price for the pictures (if you want to sell prints - very convenient if you shoot commercially)
2. They print the pictures exactly the way you submit them (i.e., they don't alter anything about your picture except cropping if you ask for and the print size is different from the submitted size)
3 The prints are OUTSTANDING. They use a continuous silver-halide process (same as for regular photography) -and the result shows. It's much better quality than what you can get with inkjets or dye sublimation prints.
4. Prints are very reasonnable (the larger size they do is 12x18 at $9.99).
5. You can purchase bulk prints, which makes it really cheap if you print a lot of pictures.
Dotphoto is geared towards professional photographers but everyone can sign-up. I have tried many online printers and that one really stands out. I warmly recommend you try it for yourself and let me know if you agree.
PS: I'm not affialiated with dotphoto...but I really love them if you couldn't tell.
5th of November 2001 (Mon), 13:36
thanks so MUCH philippe! i didn't even know this company existed...didn't come up in the usual search engines...the other companies i mentioned also give use the usual silver halide process and kodak paper...although this odd retouching (resembles auto levels in photoshop...ugh!) is MOST annoying...
i'll be ordering prints from dotphoto this afternoon...and i'll let everybody know how they look later on this week...although i have a good feeling about it1
5th of November 2001 (Mon), 15:04
Bob, no problem, let me know if you liked the results. I forgot to mention the paper these guys use: here is a cut and paste from their site:
"dotPhoto prints both on glossy and matte paper. Glossy prints are printed every day, and, because of the reduced demand, Matte paper is printed on Wednesdays only until demand develops for more frequent matte printing runs. If you wish to have your prints on matte paper, please click on the box to the left of "Matte Finish" located on the checkout screen.
dotPhoto uses Fuji Crystal Archive paper for both glossy and matte finishes; this paper has the longest fade life of any photo paper -- about 70 years versus 15 or 20 for standard photo papers. In other words, your images are more secure as dotPhoto prints. The matte paper is called "Lustre Matte."
I've never had any noticeable color shift to day...Enjoy!
6th of November 2001 (Tue), 15:39
Anyone know of any similar photo services in Canada?
6th of November 2001 (Tue), 16:11
I'm not sure about canada, but note that dotphoto ships to Canada (and worldwide). The Canadian shipping rates seem pretty reasonable to me.
9th of November 2001 (Fri), 21:32
Sounds stupid, but walmart.com. They use Fuji Crystal Archive paper and the prints are better than excellent. You can have them shipped to you or to a Walmart near you for you to pick up. If you ship to the store, there is no shipping charge either.
12th of November 2001 (Mon), 11:21
thanks again philippe...
received my first set of prints from dotphoto...exactly as they looked on my screen...so i'm sold! funny thing is...they accidentally sent me two complete sets of pics...but only charged me for one!
so i can join you...i highly recommend dotphoto.com
13th of November 2001 (Tue), 12:44
Good to hear that you ended up happy about dotphoto prints. Another one I just checked out is jumbogiant.com for very large prints. I ordered a 24x36 that turned out to be pretty good. They upsize the image for you (you provide a 150dpi file) and print glossy or mate. They did a pretty good job and unless you stick your nose on the print you can hardly see it comes from digital. The color rendition is really good too. Price is $25 for 24x36 plus shipping. They ship real fast (couple days). Check out their website (http://www.jumbogiant.com) if you're looking for real big prints!
Cheers and Regads,
24th of November 2001 (Sat), 10:37
I prefer local labs!
I can go in - and tell them what I want (sometimes even over see printing) and I can get remakes for things I don't like.
Pick one lab - calibrate your monitor for their equipment!
I had several prints made, brought them to the computer and adjust my monitor color to match their prints. My digital previews on my monitor are now exactly like their prints. (they don't adjust color -they jump dump it into the machine and print it).
What I saw is what I get.
Many people are surprised to find that they have a local lab - and more surprised that they are capible of printing digital files photographically. We have to such local labs (that I know of - possibly even more).
4th of December 2001 (Tue), 15:24
That's very true, however if you sell your picture or share them with family/friends/colleagues all over the US and abroad who want prints---and you're too lazy/overworked/broke to deal with shipping/printing costs and logistic, these online printers are very convenient. The only thing is that you want them to come close enough to your original images colorwise and quality wise, even if not 100% perfect. So both options are great to have depending on the needs.
7th of December 2001 (Fri), 09:30
It's' not really that specilized of a service any more. Man people are surprised to find that they have local labs that can print digital images.
We have 3 such labs within a 30 mile radius of our home. Getting personalized service and being able to get a reprint in case of a problem is a asset.
Look in your yellow pages for photo labs and photo finishing. Call the labs in your area and ask if they can print digital files.
My primary lab can print up to 10x15 on a Fuji Fronteir (these machines will appear in WALMART stores) Many have them already. They make excellent proofs and small enlargements to 10x15.
Another lab in my area has a Lightjet which can print anything up to 50x60". I get my studio display prints made there. They often let me work with the digital printing department during the printing of these larger enlargements.
Check your yellow pages and cross your fingers. If your in a rural area - check in the larger near by cities.
9th of December 2001 (Sun), 12:57
I use dotphoto with good luck. They will gladly redo ones if they dont suit me. They have the option not to add any enhancement to the photos which is what I want.
I asked at local Walmart and they said they can do them without enhancements too but I havent tried them yet.
10th of December 2001 (Mon), 18:58
i sent the same batch of photos to dotphoto.com and walmart.com to see the differences. in general the 8x10 prints from walmart's photo lab were sharper and had less noise than those same prints from dotphoto. somehow dotphoto's prints had digital noise or pixelation that just isn't present in the files. of course you have to look for the differences, they're subtle, but significant enough for me not to use dotphoto again. also i was disappointed that both only accepted .jpg files. do other shops accept tiff's?
btw, these pics really do look great on paper!
19th of December 2001 (Wed), 12:12
For digital photo printing in Canada, just tried Japan Camera. The 5x7s came back crisp and clear... though I would have liked a little more contrast. (Not sure if that's their fault or mine... ie, not sure if they do any adjustments)
They take digital files in person or over their website, then you pick them up at one of their stores.
The price seems to be comparable to film reprints... and for small quantities, roughly the same as a dotphoto (when you take the exchange & shipping into consideration): Cdn$5 for 5x7s.
The advantage over web-based photo services is that these guys offer next day or, in a pinch, even same day service.
21st of December 2001 (Fri), 19:34
I've gotten excellent results from ColoRich in San Diego, especially for larger prints. They're printing on a Chromira printer, Fuji paper and RA4 chemistry.
For 11x14s and smaller, Paul Woo the owner of PhotoExpress uses Fuji Frontier systems and more. He's saying he's going large format next year (2002). Does great work and really quick turnaround.
I've heard good things about WalMart's production but it could vary store to store. The QC is still very important.
BTW: For the person who said they calibrate their monitor to look like the lab's output is approaching this the wrong way. You calibrate your monitor to ICC standards. Apply a profile that your lab should supply you to preview the image and make adjustments to it and then send it to them. If they aren't producing profiles, I'd suggest they do and in the meantime find another lab. If you had to output your file to another service bureau, you're out of luck. They have no idea what you've done.
22nd of December 2001 (Sat), 21:13
The photo services all look very interesting. It appears that in order to use them, you have to put all your photos on their site so that they control the viewing, selection of photos and ordering of prints. Basically you have to be willing to give up control of how you present your photos. Is that correct?
I would like to maintain the viewing and presentation of photos on my site and somehow let the photo service handle the printing. The only problem is how to get the image to the service when it is ordered. Has anyone solved this problem? Is there a workflow solution here?
5th of January 2002 (Sat), 11:14
OK, now that I have these beautiful photos returned from dotphoto, anyone have a recommendation on where to buy frames and matting? tons of companies online, but thought I'd see if anyone has recommendations or warnings about any of them.
15th of February 2002 (Fri), 08:20
Has anyone got any suggestions re the best print labs for UK delivery. The postage is a little too high from the US!
How do the prices compare?
15th of February 2002 (Fri), 13:59
One digital lab to try is www.colormailer.com They work all over Europe and the cost is realy ok. I´ve used them severel times with sharp and brilliant copies.
19th of February 2002 (Tue), 08:22
I realise this is not particularly relevant - however I thought that some UK people might read the thread. I use www.colourmailer.com which seems to be a Swiss company which operates throughout Europe. They have a 2 - 3 day turnaround and the quality is superb.
4th of March 2002 (Mon), 00:10
Phillippe, I just signed up for dotphoto today, do you ever send them raw or gif files?
4th of March 2002 (Mon), 07:05
dotphoto can ONLY take jpegs...
no tifs, gifs or crw files...
affordable and MOSTLY good (although very satisfied with the quality...since they've become very busy i've had to send back two orders that were completely screwed up...one entire order that had a martian green hue to all of the prints; and another that had a magenta hue...don't worry...their customer service (while difficult to reach as they must be a small company) is very helpful...they immediately reprinted my order and sent it out at no charge)
they're still the best deal on the 'net...at .19 for a 4x6 print how can you go wrong?
9th of March 2002 (Sat), 14:35
Just got my photos back from Colormailer (I am in the UK) and the photos are very good. There is a current special offer of only 19 pence per photo.
I had tried it in the past and was not impressed - the photos came back very soft and with a color cast. However, this time, I put the photos through Breeze Browser to improve the sharpness and stauration before uploading to Colormailer. The results were excellent.
16th of March 2002 (Sat), 12:54
I got my photo's back from dotphoto.com, they were terrible, very yellowish and very washed out. I also sent the same ones to kodak through the iphoto program on the macintosh. So far I would have to say that Kodak is the best. We are also trying some local developers. Dotphoto has by far the best prices, but as always, I believe that you get what you pay for.
16th of March 2002 (Sat), 13:27
i'm starting to agree with you :)
when i first started using dotphoto...the results were perfect...but they have become extremely busy and with that i believe the quality control isn't what it used to be...
although their customer service (when you can reach them) was VERY pleasant and re-printed my order pronto...the next set was too red, the next set too green, etc...
i KNOW it was NOT my problem because EVERY picture had the same problem...
back to the drawing board in this one :eyes
19th of March 2002 (Tue), 11:36
I have sent the same images to dotphoto, ofoto, printroom and corddigitalhighway.com (a division of Cord camera in Ohio and Indiana)...
The results were strange.
Dotphoto had horozontal and vertical lines on all the prints that were apparently made by the printer they use. The lines often changed color where there was no color change on the image. Although I like the paper they print on, I was not happy with any of the prints they did.
Ofoto had no evidence of horozontal or vertical lines, however, the images were so high contrast the color tones were completly different from the original images. Why do I process my shots in photoshop if they are going to destroy them when they print. Again I love the paper but hate the prints.
Printroom uses generic paper, but the images are far superior to dotphoto and ofoto. There are some horizontal and vertical lines evident with a keen eye and clearly noticable with the use of an 8x loup. However the color and clarity of the prints was the closest yet to what I have on screen.
Corddigitalhighway.com has not gotten my latest batch of test prints to me, but the initial shots seem to combine printroom's image/color quality with Fuji paper. (like dotphoto uses) I hate Cord's fickle upload utility, but if the final batch of images comes back like the first set... they will be my lab of choice.
Anyone care to explain the horozontal and vertical lines on the Dotphoto and Printroom shots? (And why is this never discussed?)
By the way all shots were taken with my now dearly departed D30 (sold after 45 days of ownership to make room for the D60 which better come out in the next few weeks!)
19th of March 2002 (Tue), 12:37
I don't know what happened to dotphoto... First time I ordered from them ordered nearly 800 pictures. All came in in about 2 weeks and looked perfect. My brother now ordered a batch and they look very crappy. Horizontal and vertical lines, pixelation, colors are off, etc... I still have a 140 pictures credit, but I'm not sure I want to use it :~( ...
19th of March 2002 (Tue), 13:32
don't know what happened to dotphoto...but i'm beginning to feel like i can get better results with my photo 820 (a solution i hate)
skin tones are looking WAY strange on dotphoto...this is NOT the way i want to archive my daughter's pictures as she grows up (too yellow...too red...jeez...bad enough that i'm never IN the pictures : )
and strangely enough...
my tests from ofoto were IDENTICAL...WAY too contrasty/oversaturated...
i haven't had the horizontal lines problem yet...but i'm so annoyed at the odd hue (and how many times i've had them do it over) that i can hardly look at the shots...
ultimately, i think we're going to have to wait for the dust to clear and see which company stays standing when this is over...problem is (and they KNOW this...it's what kept me using printroom although they haven't been TOO bad) it's a NUISANCE to locate and then re-upload 3 or 4 hundred shots to another site...
19th of March 2002 (Tue), 17:38
From 8 years back when I was in the photographic industry, I think it's pretty safe to say that the first thing that goes as pricing drops is quality control... and once the quantity climbs the care of the equipment drops too... we worked in a relatively expensive semi pro to pro photolab in a busy tourist area - and really proved that you got what you paid for... as it was such a good area, there were lots of places setting up & changing hands, and we were pretty much the most expensive for processing within a five kilometre radius (beachfront, Surfers Paradise in Queensland, Australia) - but the cheap labs had staff that didn't care what they put out, if chemicals were measured, etc... we pushed quality and were busy pretty much 14 hours a day...
20th of March 2002 (Wed), 08:52
Until recently I was a huge advocate of dotphoto. My last order had items missing (12x18's, so I really wasn't happy), several photos had weird streaks in them, and the color just didn't look right on any of them. I emailed their support, as instructed from the website if you have returns, and got an automated response that was not only useless, but basically insulting. Guess I have to make that phone call now. I hate making phone calls. My opinion, if I can order online, I should be able to return the same way.
I think myself, and others like me are partially to blame for their downfall, as I found out about them from a recommendation posted here. In turn, I recommended them to people and so on, causing them to grow too much too fast. So now I am un-recommending them, and secretly hoping that their quality control and customer service returns to what it was last year, so I can start using them again and trust that I can use them for my customer's prints.
24th of April 2007 (Tue), 07:24
You might try www.whcc.com - I use them routinely. Dennis
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