Professional photo printing

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Professional photo printing

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 2:45 am

Where do you guys go to get professional prints? I've found some online services such as e.g. SmugMug, and their prices for artistic options such as gatorboard and canvas printing seem reasonable, but it looks like they require membership dues. I'm looking for an upload, pay, and ship type of option...any thoughts?
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ludi
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 3:28 am

Never had anything of mine printed yet, but I've heard good things about Mpix and Adorama.

http://www.mpix.com/
http://www.adoramapix.com/home
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 4:19 am

I use these guys: http://www.scrapbookpictures.com/
They're based in Portland Oregon, which is local to me, so that's handy. They have lots of whiz-bang features that don't interest me much, but I've been quite happy with their prints. Tons of customization options. No membership dues; just upload, pay, and ship.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 4:26 am

I've ordered a couple hundred prints from Adorama and I think they have excellent quality, rapid response, and solid stock. Their photobooks are really good, too (although I ordered mine with a 50% discount, so the price was incredible). I love it, and feel no reason to try anything else. They regularly have sales; one order had me include a couple dozen 8x10s for $0.98 apiece (plus shipping, which was trivial per print). If it means anything, I've had several pro-photog buddies rave positively about the technical quality of the prints with envy.

Now, I don't want to suggest that Adorama is "the best", because it's all I've tried. There may be a vastly better service with better prices that my ignorant little self is unaware of. And while their photo upload/arrange/crop/etc. system is fairly impressive, it's also slow and I've run into some bugs. But the results are top-notch and the prices are good for what's offered.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Fri May 28, 2010 5:38 am

ludi wrote:Where do you guys go to get professional prints? I've found some online services such as e.g. SmugMug, and their prices for artistic options such as gatorboard and canvas printing seem reasonable, but it looks like they require membership dues. I'm looking for an upload, pay, and ship type of option...any thoughts?

Have you checked out the printing services that smugmug uses (their core services that they charge for are mostly non-printing stuff).

I mostly use Mpix and WHCC, and have used Adorama some as well. The customer service(unbelievably good - if they notice something looks off in your files they will give you a call) and quality from WHCC is top notch, but you are more responsible for getting them a color-corrected photo than with other labs. Mpix will have someone color-correct your photos, and when I used Adorama they would either print your photo as-sent or run it through auto-corrections. All 3 use nice stock, although I have gotten some bent proof-size prints from Adorama in the past. Adorama and Mpix are normal website signups for accounts, WHCC is slightly more involved, but no big deal and you get some free sample prints out of the deal to evaluate them with.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sat May 29, 2010 12:18 pm

I've used Adorama and have been very pleased. The pricing is great, the quality was great and the pictures arrived quickly. I haven't used any other services so far, so take what I just said with that in mind.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sat May 29, 2010 1:23 pm

Looks like the consensus is to start with Adorama and then branch out from there. Thanks guys!
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sat May 29, 2010 2:04 pm

ludi wrote:Looks like the consensus is to start with Adorama and then branch out from there. Thanks guys!

Just to nitpick, the people who favor Adorama have said that they haven't tried anything else to compare to. I rank my experiences with Mpix and WHCC above that with Adorama (not a huge sample size). I'd rank all three as acceptable, but wouldn't put Adorama at the top.

I'd at least look into a "real" pro printer like WHCC. Setting up a WHCC account gets you 5 8x10 samples (or at least it used to) for evaluating print quality and the customer service is seriously great.

Another option that can be decent for convenience is Costco if you are a member. Quality depends on your local store, but they use decent stock and provide ICC profiles.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun May 30, 2010 5:35 am

SPOOFE wrote:I've ordered a couple hundred prints from Adorama and I think they have excellent quality, rapid response, and solid stock. Their photobooks are really good, too (although I ordered mine with a 50% discount, so the price was incredible). I love it, and feel no reason to try anything else. They regularly have sales; one order had me include a couple dozen 8x10s for $0.98 apiece (plus shipping, which was trivial per print). If it means anything, I've had several pro-photog buddies rave positively about the technical quality of the prints with envy........the results are top-notch and the prices are good for what's offered.



Skrying wrote:I've used Adorama and have been very pleased. The pricing is great, the quality was great and the pictures arrived quickly. I haven't used any other services so far, so take what I just said with that in mind.



That's really great to hear, thanks so much for the feedback - and of course, if you ever need advice or after-sales support with any order from Adorama, you are most welcome to contact me directly.
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www.adorama.com
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:25 pm

mattsteg wrote:
ludi wrote:Looks like the consensus is to start with Adorama and then branch out from there. Thanks guys!

Just to nitpick, the people who favor Adorama have said that they haven't tried anything else to compare to. I rank my experiences with Mpix and WHCC above that with Adorama (not a huge sample size). I'd rank all three as acceptable, but wouldn't put Adorama at the top.

I'd at least look into a "real" pro printer like WHCC. Setting up a WHCC account gets you 5 8x10 samples (or at least it used to) for evaluating print quality and the customer service is seriously great.

Another option that can be decent for convenience is Costco if you are a member. Quality depends on your local store, but they use decent stock and provide ICC profiles.

Costco is not so location dependent as you might think. I use them for day to day printing. They are very affordable for all sizes.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jun 06, 2010 2:53 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:
mattsteg wrote:
ludi wrote:Looks like the consensus is to start with Adorama and then branch out from there. Thanks guys!

Just to nitpick, the people who favor Adorama have said that they haven't tried anything else to compare to. I rank my experiences with Mpix and WHCC above that with Adorama (not a huge sample size). I'd rank all three as acceptable, but wouldn't put Adorama at the top.

I'd at least look into a "real" pro printer like WHCC. Setting up a WHCC account gets you 5 8x10 samples (or at least it used to) for evaluating print quality and the customer service is seriously great.

Another option that can be decent for convenience is Costco if you are a member. Quality depends on your local store, but they use decent stock and provide ICC profiles.

Costco is not so location dependent as you might think. I use them for day to day printing. They are very affordable for all sizes.

I think they're probably pretty reliably decent. Their pricing and materials would be standardized, as would general procedures, but any time you''re dealing with a large company with many locations there's potential for variation. They're not like WHCC, Mpix, Adorama, etc. where all of the printing, quality control, employees, and so on are under the same roof.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:26 pm

mattsteg wrote:
SpotTheCat wrote:
mattsteg wrote:Just to nitpick, the people who favor Adorama have said that they haven't tried anything else to compare to. I rank my experiences with Mpix and WHCC above that with Adorama (not a huge sample size). I'd rank all three as acceptable, but wouldn't put Adorama at the top.

I'd at least look into a "real" pro printer like WHCC. Setting up a WHCC account gets you 5 8x10 samples (or at least it used to) for evaluating print quality and the customer service is seriously great.

Another option that can be decent for convenience is Costco if you are a member. Quality depends on your local store, but they use decent stock and provide ICC profiles.

Costco is not so location dependent as you might think. I use them for day to day printing. They are very affordable for all sizes.

I think they're probably pretty reliably decent. Their pricing and materials would be standardized, as would general procedures, but any time you''re dealing with a large company with many locations there's potential for variation. They're not like WHCC, Mpix, Adorama, etc. where all of the printing, quality control, employees, and so on are under the same roof.

My understanding is the guys behind the counter don't do a whole ton for digital prints. The machines are probably pretty self-diagnosing and nearly idiot proof. I would also guess that different locations use very similar or identical equipment.

My experience for cheap 1hr prints puts Costco ahead of others in price/performance.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:29 pm

SpotTheCat wrote:My understanding is the guys behind the counter don't do a whole ton for digital prints. The machines are probably pretty self-diagnosing and nearly idiot proof. I would also guess that different locations use very similar or identical equipment.

My experience for cheap 1hr prints puts Costco ahead of others in price/performance.

There's a certain amount of maintenance involved, and there are some machine adjustments as well. The machines can certainly produce prints with iffy color accuracy and crooked cropping if not maintained and adjusted conscientiously. The equipment used by Costco varies about as much as the equipment used by the photo printing industry in general. My old location had multiple different models of printer in-house, and this is not abnormal. If the machines were as fool proof as you suggest, it wouldn't be so easy to go out and get an absolutely terrible print made. It's not a manual process, but there's still ample opportunity to apply destructive settings, and some of the defaults are not ideal.

Honestly, I think we're seeing this the same way from different perspectives. Is costco almost certainly better than places like Walgreens, target, etc.? Absolutely. Will it compete with that last little bit that the better dedicated photo-printing places can offer? That's likely going to depend on the specific store.

I once got an 11x14 from Costco that wasn't cropped straight, with a little bit of white border showing. WHCC calls me if I do something like submit a poor-quality source file or have a border oriented oddly, to check if I want to resend files to correct the situation. MPix will have someone color-correct your photos by hand, if you desire. If I want high color accuracy at Costco, I need to tell them what printer to print on, and prepare my images accordingly. I'm not sure to what standard their other printers are maintained, or even what standard is kept for the profiled printer between profilings.

It really comes down to just how high of a standard you are setting and in what areas. I fully expect that costco will generally use good materials, have their machines adjusted sensibly, and normally maintain them decently. At a minimum, I would expect adequate prints, which is more that I can say about some other places. The last little bit to get to excellency is likely to vary by location.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:18 pm

We are seeing it in the same way.

Both the Costco in Eden Prairie and the one in Saint Louis Park have both given me good results, especially for the price and convenience.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sat Jul 10, 2010 3:04 pm

I gave Adorama a spin with a selection of about eight shots including some flower close-ups, a couple scenery shots, and a timed night exposure. All printed as 8x10s to metallic-finish paper. I also went ahead and checkmarked the option to allow Adorama to adjust the final image balance since I don't have a quality monitor yet.

Results were quite pleasing, and I'm going to look into framing a couple in the next week or two. At some point I'll have to try a couple other suggested vendors, but first I want to get an IPS monitor (1-2 months away, I expect) so I can balance color and brightness correctly. Meanwhile, Adorama's service is sufficient.
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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jul 11, 2010 1:50 am

ludi wrote:I gave Adorama a spin with a selection of about eight shots .........
Results were quite pleasing, and ......Adorama's service is sufficient.



Thank you so much for the feedback, which I have had great pleasure in passing on to the team over at AdoramaPix.

If you ever need either advice or after-sales support with an order from AdoramaPix (or Adorama Camera) you are most welcome to email me directly.

Thanks again for the great feedback!

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Re: Professional photo printing

Postposted on Sun Jul 11, 2010 5:20 am

I use a local pro lab. Being in NJ, I guess I'm lucky to have some locally. Their prices are equivalent and I get very personalized service. It's also easy to discuss issues and concerns one-on-one with a human being. But if you're local to Adorama or don't have a pro-lab near, I've heard many good things about Adorama's services.
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