Print Quality | Good to know

Should you print from us or go it alone and print your files elsewhere?  We thought it might be helpful to do a comparison of popular printing options to see how they stack up.

We used the same digital file for every print.  It’s really hard to capture an image of images but we did our best to provide a comparison image below.  Please keep in mind that without a professionally calibrated monitor you might not see the same thing we see in this comparison image.  This was by no means a scientific test and is simply our opinion.

The biggest difference we found in our prints vs the others was how the highlights printed.  A highlight is the brightest part of the image.  When we refer to blown out highlights that means detail is being lost as the brightness gets too high.

Walgreens 
Our Grade = D

Pros:
Good Sharpness
Okay Highlights

Cons:
Very Dark
Red Color Cast

The print is very dark and has a red tone to it.  Our photo of this print doesn’t really do a good job of showing just how dark it is compared to the others.  The highlights aren’t blown out like you see in many of the other prints but this may just be due to how dark the entire photo is.  Sharpness is good.

Shutterfly
Our Grade = F

Pros:
Good Sharpness

Cons:
Very Bright Blown out Highlights and Midtones
White edge not trimmed off
Bad Color

This print is just not acceptable.  The highlights are completely gone with the subjects face going almost pure white.  The print also isn’t trimmed correctly and has a white edge on the right side.  This was printed on the same glossy paper as the Walgreens print and has good sharpness, which is the only acceptable part of the print.

Walmart
Our Grade = C+

Pros:
Good Sharpness

Cons:
Yellow color cast
Highlights aren’t great

The print has a yellow color cast to it.  There is poor detail in the highlights of her hair.  Her hair is also looking a bit too red.  Sharpness is good.

Target
Our Grade = C

Pros:
Nothing in particular
Overall not the worst

Cons:
Yellow color cast
Highlights aren’t great
Over-sharpened
Thin Paper

This print has a similar yellow color cast to it as the print from Walmart.  The highlights in the print are really starting to blow out.  The print seems a bit over sharpened.  The paper used feels the the thinest of all our tests.

Mpix
Our Grade = C

Pros:
Paper Quality

Cons:
Green color cast
A bit dark
Sharpness isn’t great

The print has a green color cast to it.  It’s a little dark and the sharpness isn’t very good.  The one good thing is the paper used is the same professional paper we get with our own prints.

Shillers
Our Grade = D

Pros:
Nothing

Cons:
Too much contrast
Thin generic paper
Possibly not archival paper

This was a little surprising as it is one of the more expensive places to print from.  There is far too much contrast in the print and the paper is a thin generic with no Kodak or Fuji stamp on the back.  I’m not sure I would trust this print to last because of this reason.

Snapfish
Our Grade = B-

Pros:
Okay Color
Good Sharpness

Cons:
Hightlights aren’t great
Print has small piece missing
Not archival paper

The color of the print is pretty close to being correct, but the highlights are again blown out.  Sharpness is good.  There is a small piece of the print missing in the upper right corner of the print.  It’s not printed on archival paper.

Our Prints
Grade = A+

Pros:
Great Color
Correct Brightness and Contrast
Sharpened for print size
Professional Archival Paper

Cons:
Price – Yes, it costs more than printing yourself.

Just about everything we picked on the other prints for lacking is correct in our print.  The color closely matches the digital file.  There are no blown out highlights. The print is made with professional archival paper.  The print is sharp because we sharpen each print based on the print size.  While we do retouch all the images we deliver to clients, we go through each print again making sure they are perfect to print.   This is how you want to print your photos!

 

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