We got so much feedback on our original Photo Print Comparison that we knew it had to be expanded on. Previously, we ordered one 4×6 print from eight different labs most often used by our customers to see who stood their ground and who missed the mark. We revisited the top four rated labs, making use of all the features available from each site, and ordered more prints. This time, along with another color 4×6, we ordered 4×6’s of a black and white image and a picture taken with a camera phone as well as a 5×7 color enlargement. Our hope was to test the quality of each lab in its entirety instead of just on one aspect. The results were interesting.
The first image we will compare is a professionally edited color 4×6 print.
The first thing that we noticed with all four prints was that, despite the original image already being set at a 4×6 ratio, each lab chose to crop down the image.
The print that was the most accurate representation of the original was from mpix. The color was excellent and there seemed to be no loss of detail. Surprisingly to us, Target‘s photo lab offered a great print as well. There was very minor loss of detail, however the print had a slight brown hue that wasn’t present in the original though it wasn’t overwhelming. The print we received from adoramapix was a close third behind Target, but had some definition and detail loss as well as a slightly dingy tone. All three were certainly better than the print sent from their competitor ritzpix. Having placed them as the runner up in our last post, this single print was enough to make us question how they could have made it so far up the list just a few months prior.
The second 4×6 image we compared was a professionally edited B&W photo.
When editing this B&W image, we added a low opacity peach filter to give a little pop of color to this special moment. None of the prints perfectly brought out the subtle peach, but mpix again produced the closest out of all the labs. Target‘s print lost some of the details from the original while adoramapix retained very little of the original’s details and the print seemed blurry. Ritzpix failed to send us the print we ordered at all and have yet to contact us back regarding the missing photo.
Today, practically everyone carries a camera around with them everywhere they go in the form of their cell phone. We thought it would be important to test the quality of camera phone images printed at these labs. This picture was taken and edited with the Camera+ app on my iPhone.
There seemed to be less variance in quality with the camera phone 4×6 prints. While mpix continued to tower above the rest, Target put up a good fight. The print from adoramapix was slightly stretched and once again blurry while the print from ritzpix was much darker destroying details in the image’s shadows.
Lastly, we opted to order 5×7’s of another professionally edited color image.
We chose this photo because it was much lighter than any of the others we had printed. The enlargement we received from mpix maintained the detail of the original, but lost a little of the color in the skin tones. Both adoramapix and Target were much lighter, causing the subject to look relatively overexposed. Although the lighter color didn’t result in loss of detail of adoramapix’s print, the same cannot be said for Target’s print. Ritzpix‘s was dark, the detail and color in the subject’s eyes was lacking to say the least, and the print had streaks.
Mpix once again stood out as ruler supreme. They have, by far, the most printing options available on their site and offer free color correction to ensure you have the best looking image when it arrives at your door. The paper they print on is thicker than any of the other labs which reinforces to us the quality, not only in their work, but in their product itself. The cons? At $.73 per 4×6 after adding a Lustre coating that the other labs included in their base price, this lab has the heftiest price tag at more than twice what its competitors (if you can call them that) charge.
Target surprised us this round and we will gladly present them with runner up after seeing these four prints. Although not exact representations of our original images, without carefully examining their product against a company like mpix, you won’t know what you’re really missing out on.
Adoramapix followed closely behind Target this time around. They, too, offer free color corrections to get you the most out of your money. They have the best packaging to prevent any damage to your prints, but also took the longest to arrive at the door (1 week to be exact).
From what we saw this time, we don’t know how ritzpix even made the original list. Albeit, they are a better choice than either Walmart or Walgreens (shudder), I would gladly pay the extra $.09 per 4×6 to get a quality print. They had the most expensive shipping out of the four labs and their website is difficult to navigate.
What do you think about how these labs stacked up against each other? Are you surprised by the outcome? Tell us what you think!