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5 of the Best Online Photo Printing Services In The World (All Photographers Take Note!)
These are the 5 best online photo printing services I've used in the last few years. As a photographer I love to be surrounded by prints, calendars and greetings cards with my pictures on them. So these reviews are drawn from my (perhaps rather too) extensive experience!
I thought this would be a good article to share with you because the number of online printing companies is exploding upwards (and not all are created equal!). The quality of results, in my experience, differs a good bit. I've had some faded and flimsy business cards, good-but-not-great prints and a few spectacular canvases! But these guys have come top of the class:
1. York Photo
York Photo are a definite personal favourite of mine. I love their colourful, user-friendly website and reliably high quality prints.
I always get the feeling that they are passionate about what they do, instead of being one of these companies that churns out industrial quantities of poor quality prints on any material under the sun! You know the places, right? Well, York Photo are the polar opposite of that in my experience.
Instead of pitching at the lowest common denominator, there are high standards throughout their printing service. The quality of prints I have received from them has always been admirably high, matching the colour tone and dynamic range of my images beautifully.
The website is easy to use and photos tend to upload pretty efficiently (not something that can be said for all places. I've drunk way too many cups of coffee waiting for pictures to upload during my testing of online printing companies!). Whilst on the subject of efficiency, though, I've occassionally found shipping times to be slower than stated, which can be pain in the backside if it's a present for someone.
I really like the template designs provided by York Photo. They seem to have a slightly vintage theme for a lot of them, which I personally love. They are easy to personalize with uploaded images.
Something that gives York Photo a bit of an 'x factor' is the seamlessness with which photo sharing features are integrated into the site. You can share albums by email, through social networks or on your blog very easily indeed. It'a really nice touch.
Navigation of the York Photo site is refreshingly intuitive. The main categories ("Prints", "Book and Calendars", "Cards and Stationery" etc) are displayed across the top, with the subsections of whatever category you are in laid out on the left.
Shipping: North America
Conclusion: If you have a printing job for any of the common popular products (like books, cards, canvases, t-shirts, fine art prints etc) - even if you want to send in a strip of film - York Photo are, in my experience, one of the best online photo printing companies to use.
A second opinion (TopTenReviews.com): 8.7/10
MOO.com are exclusively a card printing company. But, oh, do they know how to print cards! They were one of the first online photo printing companies I tried and I'm now a (very!) regular customer. MOO are based in both the USA and Europe.
The, fresh, modern, high quality feel of their website carries through into their products and customer service. MOO seem to have set out to become the undisputed kings of personalized card printing! That's any type of card, be it greetings, business, post, Christmas, etc.
In my view, they can definitely lay claim to that title. The card and print quality is stunningly high. So why MOO? I was so delighted with my first ever batch (they were postcards with landscape shots on them) that I put one in a little frame and it looks great!
Another feature that makes MOO the best online photo printing company when it comes to cards is their 'Printfinity' system. Printfinity allows you to order business cards, greetings cards etc. with a different picture on every one in the pack. Awesome!
The photo editing tools on MOO's site are very limited; but you'd do that on your own software if you have it, right? Meanwhile the text customization options are excellent; write messages on the front, middle and back (and upload little images to go alongside this text).
Unlike the sometimes patchy shipping times I've experienced with York Photo, my MOO orders always arrive pronto. The one exception was when the roads around my house where totally snowed under - absolutely nothing could get here. But the cards still arrived only 1 day late and the shipping cost was refunded!!
Conclusion: MOO have made my life better thanks to: having the coolest business cards around and being able to create world-beating birthday cards for people. They are definitely one of the best online photo printing companies around. The price is undoubtedly quite high, but you still get more than you pay for.
A second opinion (TopTenReviews.com): 9.25/10
Shutterfly seem to have a very high reputation for quality across the board. The company has been on my radar for ages, but I only got around to ordering some prints with them about 7 weeks ago. I have to say, it was one of those "why the hell didn't I clock on to this earlier" moments!
Both colour and b/w prints were of beautiful quality and reproduced with long lasting archival materials. The b/w shots (beach portraits) had a real 'pop' about them, which I know is impossible to get when using standard home printing equiopment.
When someone offers an great service, we expect to pay a fair price for it, and Shutterfly's prices are marginally above those of most online printing companies I have come across. I like this, because there is a trend amongst lesser online printing services to compensate for poor print quality with bells and whistles and dirt cheap prices (I don't want a photo collar for my dog, or the ability to share my pictures with a gazillion strangers, just top notch, beautiful prints!).
The image uploading process is fairly normal, although you can speed it up by downloading the desktop uploader. Previewing photo products is great on Shutterfly, because they let you know very clearly whether there are any potential problems that will arise in printing (instead of just going ahead and printing something inadequate for you).
The range of items available is about right, with all the basics and some cool novelties. I really dislike those companies that offer 17.9k "photo gifts" and make it a selling point! It's not, it's a messy website. Of the more unusual items on Shutterfly my favourites are the photo cubes and personalised growth chart.
Shutterfly also offer services for creating your own mini-site with image galleries. This is quite a cool option for a school, sports team, club etc. It's also possible to create galleries from which you can sell images. This is marketed as a tool for professional photographers, but I think it is probably much more appealing for enthusiasts and semi-pro's.
Conclusion: Shutterfly are one of the best online photo printing companies because they've stayed true to the whole purpose of online printing: high quality prints, produced way more conveniently and affordably than people could do at home. The price is up there, but very fair.
A second opinion (TopTenReviews.com): 9.2/10
PhotoBox has a nice, clear homepage that lays out in an uncluttered way exactly what the site has to offer. The interface for uploading photos is very simple and designed for those unfamiliar with this kind of thing.
Choose from large digital photo prints, stretched canvases, framed prints and even acrylic prints. You can produce calendars and cards from your photos, with personalised text.
Photobox are also one of the best digital photo book printing companies - an increasingly popular item to produce. They provide cool templates with space for your images and text (my favourite is the cookbook template - how awesome would a fully personalised cookbook be as a gift!?).
There is a substantial range of papers and sizes to choose from, and the prices vary accordingly. PhotoBox does not only offer a digital photo online printing service; Before you place an order you can use their free and extensive image editing tools. Saturate colours, convert colour to black and white etc. This is a great feature that lifts them above many competitors.
Conclusion: PhotoBox are a solid bet for most items, and I especially love their photo books! They are based in the UK and do not ship to the U.S., so this is one for UK. customers only.
A second opinion (TrustPilot.co.uk): 7.7/10
Snapfish is also one of the best online photo printing services. Their website is unfussy and easy to navigate. Registering gives you a bunch of free photo prints as a welcome gift! It takes a matter of seconds.
Order small or large digital photo prints, canvas prints, stationery, mugs and other gifts. Like Photobox, Snapfish are one of the better digital photo book printing companies. It is easy to personalise your items and the standard of their professional digital photography printing is always high.
They offer quite extensive image editing tools, which can be used to fine tune - or radically alter - your digital pictures before ordering them as a specific item.
Conclusion: Snapfish are one of the all round best online photo printing companies. Their popularity as a result of consistently good quality printing. A very safe bet for your print jobs.
A second opinion (TopTenReviews.com): 10/10
My rankings for the best online photo printing companies:
Online Printing Company