I promised you a few of weeks ago that we would be having a full review of printers for both layouts and albums. I know we all have our favorite printers (I did before trying them all out). But, there have been a few new printers join the market in the last while and maybe you have been wondering how they would measure up. Today, I will be telling you all about the results I had when I printed the same layout at several different sites.
Please note: THE DAILY DIGI does not have paid sponsors, we do not accept paid (or traded) forms of advertising on our site from other sites, services, or designers, nor do we have affiliates. No coupons or discounts were asked for or used in the printing of these layouts. I have only ever printed at Costco and Winkflash before printing layouts for this review.
I set up accounts at each printer under a different name and had the layouts shipped to a different address other than my own. All, in the hopes, that I could provide you with the most accurate and unbiased information to help you pick the best printer for you.
On every layout, I ordered a matte or lustre finish, this is just my personal preference. I also chose the “no correction” or “auto correct off” option at each site.
This is the layout I had printed, all supplies are by SirScrapalot:
These printers’ results are in alphabetical order. I rated each site in the following ways:
Intimidation Factor: How intimidated I felt about the site in general, before even setting up an account or uploading. None = not intimidating Mild = mild intimidation High = I was very intimidated and if it would not have been for doing a review for TDD, I would have quit.
Ease of upload: How easy was it to find the upload area and select the photos for uploading. 5= Awesome very easy, no problems 3= okay 1= Pretty bad,, lots of problems
Photo colors: How true the colors printed compared to my calibrated monitor. 5= perfect 3= somewhat different 1= very different
Paper/element details and colors: How true the paper and element colors were compared to my calibrated monitor. 5= perfect 3= somewhat different 1= very different
There will be some other information included in each review, such as amount of time for uploading and the amount of time it took me to complete an order from start (getting to the site) to finish (hitting submit). I am also including bits of information that I think you might want to know. Let’s get started…
Intimidation Factor: mild, there are so many products on the homepage that it was a bit overwhelming.
Ease of Upload: 2, it took me forever to find where to upload the photos and how to purchase individual layouts. I finally found them in the canvas printing section.
It took me 2 minutes and 13 seconds to upload a 3600x3600 layout. It was 20 minutes to place the order from the very start to the finish. Choices on finishes were glossy or matte. I printed an 8x8 matte and 12x12 matte. 8x8’s are $1.99 and 12x12’s are $2.99. The shipping charges were $6.98.
Photo colors: 4, photos were a little darker.
Paper colors: 4, colors were a little less saturated. Detail on all paper colors was kept (even white).
Other information: The prints came packaged in a tube and I didn’t think I would ever be able to flatten them. They did flatten out when I set them inside my scanner for awhile but are still wavy.
The most odd thing to me was how they trimmed my layout. The borders on both sides of my layout were the same, but on this print it was wider on the left side than the right. The border on the top and bottom on my layout were the same as well, but the border on the print was slightly larger on the bottom than the top.
Note: I have been printing at Costco since they started offering 12x18 prints in my area…at least 4 years. So, I can’t really rate the intimidation factor. However, almost two years ago, they went through a site redesign and I have had problems uploading ever since. I usually select the one-by-one upload option and do okay. You also need to select the high-resolution option because the “faster” option (low res) is selected by default. Because of these things, I would have to give Costco a 2 on ease of upload because it’s not easy and I have been using them for a long time.
It took me 1minute 23 seconds to upload a 3600x3600 layout. I always pick my orders up. They contract out orders that are shipped, so this review does not include orders shipped. 12x12’s are $2.99 each, 8x8’s are $1.49 each. When I place an order for layouts, I usually put 3) 12x12’s on a 12x36 canvas for $4.99 ($1.66 per 12x12) and take the CD in to be printed, then I come home and trim. I have also been known to print out several 6x6’s at one time (on a 12x18 canvas or a 12x36) for my kids to have copies.
Photo colors: 4 photos were darker and seemed off on the hue a bit as well. They also seemed blurry.
Paper colors: 4 colors were a little less saturated, detail on papers were kept, however they seemed blurry.
Other information: Being able to upload and then go pick up layouts the same day is really wonderful!! The flexibility of sizes is a bonus too, not to mention the prices! I was a little surprised at the blurriness especially when compared to the other prints.
Intimidation Factor: none
Ease of Upload: 3, I didn’t like having to enter ALL of my information (including shipping) before even uploading anything.
It took me 1 minute and 56 seconds to upload a 3600x3600 layout. My only option was a 12x12, no finish or paper options, these prints are 99cents. It took me 11 minutes from start to finish to place an order.
Photo colors: 1, photos were very, very washed out and looked like they had been lightened quite a bit
Paper colors: 1, just as the photos, the papers seemed to be washed out, but not as bad as the photos were. There was no texture detail on the white paper behind the journaling.
Other information: The paper is a cardstock quality (matte). I don’t think the paper would have bothered me if the images would have been closer to what was on my computer, because once it is in a sheet protector, it’s not that noticeable. Overall, there was a really big difference in appearance though.
Intimidation Factor: mild, because it is a site directed at professional photographers and it was a little intimidating at first. Once I got going though, it was not too much different than any other site.
Ease of Upload: 5, no problems at all
It took me 2 minutes 10 seconds to upload a 3600x3600 layout. It took me 15 minutes to place an order from start to finish. It was $5.95 for a 12x12 on “e-paper”, $2.75 for an 8x8 on “e-paper” (which I think stands for endura) with lustre coating, and $1.99 for an 8x8 on “e-paper”.
Photo colors: 2, quite a bit darker than what was on my monitor
Paper colors: 2, were darker as well, but the worst was that there was absolutely no texture on the white papers behind the journaling on the 12x12’s. There was a slight amount of texturing on the 8x8’s, but only if you looked really closely.
Other information: Based on price and the fact that Mpix caters to photographers, I thought the printing results would be much better than they were. I thought I would be struggling with the choice of paying so much to print awesome layouts. I was sadly disappointed.
Intimidation Factor: none
Ease of Upload: 5, I really liked that I only had to enter my name, email address, and password to get started. Their uploader is java based and my vista and java don’t play nicely, so I had to do the one-by-one uploader, but not a big deal and not their fault.
It took me 2 minutes and 16 seconds to upload a 3600x3600 layout. The 12x12 premium matte paper was $1.99 ($1.79 after 200 prints). The 8x8 premium matte was 99cents. It took me a total of 14 minutes to place the order from start to finish.
Photo colors: 5 the colors in the photo were almost perfect!
Paper colors: 4, there was some loss of detail on the white paper.
Other information: The black journaling seemed to have a yellowish/greenish cast to it. I checked my black in Photoshop and it was a true black. I’m not sure if this is because of their printing process or just something done differently on my layout. This order was received the quickest out of all of them.
Intimidation Factor: none
Ease of Upload: 2, It took me quite a bit of time and clicking to figure out where to go to upload layouts. Once I uploaded the layouts, it took me a very long time to figure out how to order the different sizes and finishes of the same layout.
It took me 1 minute and 55 seconds to upload on 3600x3600 layout. The 12x12 matte layout was $1.49, a 12x12 pro matte was $1.69, 8x8 matte was 89cents, 8x8 pro matte was $1.49. It took me 30 minutes to place an order from start to finish.
Photo colors: Photos were very dark compared to my monitor.
Paper colors: 4, slightly darker in color, no loss in detail on white paper.
Other information: The pro paper is a heavier weight paper, but the images were more true in color on the regular paper. All things considered, I would skip the extra cost for pro paper and stick with the regular.
Ordering on Scrapbook Picture was the most frustrating of any of the sites. It did not seem to be very intuitive to me. Not only that, but after I received my orders from all of the other sites, but one, I decided to check on my order and somehow, I didn’t send it. I really thought I had sent the order because I had to enter so much information. I finished placing the order, but then when the order came it wasn’t right. I got two 12x12’s on regular matte paper and no 8x8’s. I called them and they had the whole order reprinted and I got it 5 days later.
Intimidation Factor: none
Ease of Upload: 5
It took me 2 minutes and 2 seconds to upload a 3600x3600 layout. It took me 12 minutes to place my order from start to finish. I ordered a 8x8 matte 99cents and a 12x12 matte for $1.99
Photo colors: 5, colors on photos were perfect
Paper colors: 3, colors were almost exact, but there was a total loss of detail on the white paper.
Other information: As I was writing this, I went back to the site to check on something and it looks like you have to install some software in order to upload and order layouts. I clicked on the button for those that would prefer not to install the software and I got an error. I decided to install the software (only because I am writing this, otherwise it would have been a no-go for me), but then it also wanted me to update my browser. At that point, I quit.
note: this site had a total redesign since I ordered Christmas cards there 3 years ago, so it was like starting over.
Intimidation Factor: none
Ease of Upload: 3, I thought at first that I could upload without registering, because the site let me upload when I clicked on upload. Where that layout went, I will never know because they never asked me for my information after that. Then, I had to register and go through the whole upload process again. Instead of taking you to an upload area, it should redirect you to a register/login page.
It took me 57 seconds to upload one 3600x3600 layout. I could only see an 8x8 option (matte or glossy) for $1.49 with 89cents shipping on that one layout. It took me 13 minutes to place the order
Photo colors: 3, darker and more red in tone as well.
Paper colors: 3, darker and some loss of detail on the white journaling paper.
Other information: The trimming on this one was really odd as well. It’s almost as if it were printed full-bleed on the top and left edge and then the right and bottom were trimmed to make the 8x8 because there was more trimmed from those edges.
Intimidation factor: extremely high
I set up an account and they said they would follow up with information on what I needed to do to upload prints. A week later, I received a letter in the mail, telling me that I must submit test prints before ordering anything. After you upload test prints, they mail them to you, you make sure your computer likes their printer (by installing profiles and all of that fun stuff) THEN you can order some layouts. This site caters to professional photographers and I have heard wonderful things about their prints. I was not able to get the layouts done for this post, but will follow-up when I do.
Where will I be printing? I think for stuff that I need right away, I will still be printing at Costco. I will also be saving up my layouts to print with Persnickety. The colors in the photos and the papers were almost perfect!! I really was surprised at the differences from printer to printer and how many of them got it wrong. Persnickety was really the only one that got it all right.
I think I would also like to try Scrapping Simply again, IF they get that redirect fixed so I don't have to install a bunch of stuff. They have some great prices on canvases, from what I could see (couldn’t find anything with a link to them to see for sure).
All in all, I was surprised at how well some of the newer printers did (especially Persnickety). Because so many of my digi friends use Scrapbook Pictures and love them, I expected to love them as well, but the love just wasn’t there... Sorry girls!
Hopefully, this gives you some concrete information that you can use in making your own decisions about which printers you want to try! I will be back, as promised, with reviews on photobooks/albums.
P.S. Your purchases of THE DIGI FILES go toward paying for posts like this. If you found this post valuable and have not ever purchased THE DIGI FILES, you might want to start grabbing them! :) PLUS you get so much good scrapping stuff, how can you lose?