back to top

“Where is the best place to have my images printed?”

We’ve heard this question several times recently, and we believe it’s a good question for everyone to ask. Why take the time out of your busy day and spend the money to have a photographer take high resolutions pictures of your family only to end up with subpar prints? Sure they look great on the computer, but there is something about having a beautifully matted and framed picture on your fireplace or hanging on your wall. Because of this, we have spent the last couple weeks gathering information and ordering prints from eight of the most popular photo labs across the country to see how they stack up against each other. The results were surprising to even us.

***update 01/13/14*** Check out Photo Print Comparison Part 2 for a more in-depth look at our top four rated labs.



Although we were somewhat unfamiliar with this company, we saw this name come up again and again when searching for popular labs. They had, by far, the best shipping packaging out of all the competition (can’t blame them for the mail carrier leaving the box out in the street) and were the only company to ship via UPS instead of using the postal service.

Original vs AdoramaPix


The Facts:

  • Price: $.24 per 4×6
  • Shipping Cost: $3.00
  • Shipping Speed: 4 days
  • Package Quality: Study cardboard box, photo in waxpaper sleeve shrink-wrapped to sturdy cardboard backing
  • Paper Type: Kodak Professional Endura Supra paper
  • Picture Quality: Although the coloring was only slightly muted, the subject appeared blurry which caused a loss of detail in the image.



This has always been our go-to lab to order prints so we were really looking forward to see how they compared to the others.

Original vs mpix

The Facts:

  • Price: $.29 per 4×6
  • Shipping Cost: $3.95
  • Shipping Speed: 5-10 days
  • Package Quality: Very sturdy cardboard packaging, photo in plastic protective sleeve.
  • Paper Type: FujiColor Crystal Archive Professional Paper
  • Picture Quality: True to color. Slightly darker than original. Very minor to no loss of detail.



We have used Ritz Camera in the past and were always impressed by their quality. We were excited that they offered online print ordering through Unfortunately, the website is not nearly as user friendly as any of the other sites we used.

Original vs RitzPix

The Facts:

  • Price: $.15 per 4×6 ($.27 to have printed in store)
  • Shipping Cost: $2.99
  • Shipping Speed: 5-10 days
  • Package Quality: Very sturdy cardboard packaging, photo in paper sleeve.
  • Paper Type: FujiColor Crystal Archive Type II
  • Picture Quality: Slight yellow tint. Very minor loss of detail.



We’ve seen a lot of smack-talk toward Shutterfly in online photography forums so we were looking forward to seeing what they had to bring to the table.

Original vs Shutterfly

The Facts:

  • Price: $.10 per 4×6
  • Shipping Cost: $1.79
  • Shipping Speed: 3-7 days
  • Package Quality: Somewhat thin cardboard packaging, photo in thin cardboard sleeve
  • Paper Type: FujiColor Crystal Archive paper
  • Picture Quality: Slight pink tint. Image was cropped even though the file that was uploaded was already to 4×6 dimensions. Very Minor to no loss of detail.



Snapfish fans have a lot to say when it comes to the quality of their prints. They were usually the ones found in the forums trashing Shutterfly. It was interesting to see the results for ourselves.

Original vs Snapfish

The Facts:

  • Price: $.09 per 4×6
  • Shipping Cost: $.99
  • Shipping Speed: 3-5 days
  • Package Quality: Somewhat thin cardboard packaging, photo in paper sleeve with sturdy cardboad backer
  • Paper Type: Kodak XTRALIFE (claimed to be printed on “top quality Fuji photo paper” on their website)
  • Picture Quality: Muted colors with brown tint. Loss of detail.



Since Target has everything, I should have known that it had a photo lab. While only one of the Targets in the area offer kiosk prints, you can order from their online lab at anytime.

Original vs Target


The Facts:

  • Price: $.15 per 4×6 online ($.19 at kiosk)
  • Shipping Cost: $1.75 (or free pickup in store)
  • Shipping Speed: 7-10 days
  • Package Quality: Slightly thin cardboard envelope, photo in thick paper sleeve
  • Paper Type: Kodak XTRALIFE
  • Picture Quality: True to color although slightly faded tone. Very minor to no loss of detail.



Walgreens is probably one of the most famous photo labs. We were interested in seeing if this was due to clever marketing or for the quality of their work.

Original vs Walgreens


The Facts:

  • Price: $.12 per 4×6 ($.20 in store)
  • Shipping Cost: $.99 (or free pickup in store)
  • Shipping Speed: 5-7 days
  • Package Quality: Thin cardboard envelope, photo in very thin cardboard sleeve.
  • Paper Type: FujiColor Crystal Archive paper (Only glossy available in store)
  • Picture Quality: Dull, dark color with brown tint. Major loss of detail.



Walmart prides itself in that they offer everything you can imagine. It’s convenient to do all your shopping in one place. We were interested to see if you had to sacrifice quality for convenience by printing your photos at Walmart.

Original vs Walmart

Original vs Walmart


The Facts:

  • Price: $.09 per 4×6 ($.19 in store)
  • Shipping Cost: Free
  • Shipping Speed: 3-5 days
  • Package Quality: Sturdy cardboard packaging, photo in paper sleeve with somewhat sturdy cardboard backer
  • Paper Type: Kodak XTRALIFE
  • Picture Quality: Dull, dark color with brown tint. Some loss of detail.



Don’t be fooled into thinking just because a lab prints on a certain type of paper that it’s going to be a quality photograph. Majority of the labs listed use FujiColor Crystal Archive Paper and don’t get me wrong—this is quality paper that has the potential to produce beautiful images with brilliant colors while showing off details, not to mention its excellent resistance to fading (and they’re not even paying me to say this). But the paper isn’t the only factor in producing quality images as seen when comparing RitzPix’s print with the photo printed at Walgreens. Same paper, huge difference.

RitzPix vs Walgreens

As far as the ongoing Snapfish/Shutterfly rivalry, we would choose Shutterfly over Snapfish any day based on the results of our comparison—if not for the difference in quality, for the fact that Snapfish’s website claims that they print on Fuji paper when in fact the print sent to us was printed on Kodak paper. Although Snapfish is slightly cheaper, when ordering prints, you won’t see as big of a difference in your wallet as you’ll see in your photographs.


Ranking by best quality:

  1. mpix
  2. RitzPix
  3. Target
  4. AdoramaPix
  5. Shutterfly
  6. Snapfish
  7. Walmart
  8. Walgreens

full list of prints by location


While mpix certainly had the best quality out of all the labs tested, it also had the highest price per print as well as shipping cost. If you don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of quality for price, RitzPix tested a close second. And for goodness sake, if you have your photos printed at Walgreens, do yourself a favor and stop. There are better and cheaper choices out there. You will thank us.

Have any thoughts or comments? Please let us know. We’d love to hear for you!

***update 01/13/14*** Check out Photo Print Comparison Part 2 for a more in-depth look at our top four rated labs.

P&W Photography are Phil & Whitney Mayhew, a husband/wife team located in Nebraska & documenting the good life throughout the Midwest. P&W Photography are non-traditional, storytelling photographers who specialize in lifestyle & documentary-inspired photography, making it their goal to capture authentic moments & genuine emotions. They are always eager to travel to new places & meet new people. Phil enjoys tacos & cheeseburgers. Probably too much. Also pizza. He loves listening to vinyl records & walking the cobblestone streets of Charleston. Above all, he is grateful for undeserved Love. Whitney is fueled by fashion & essential oils. She's a Southern Belle with the sweetest accent this side of the Mississippi. She loves vintage jewelry & cannot bear the thought of passing a farmers market without stopping. ​Phil & Whitney are parents to two incredible little girls & a sweet Morkie pup. They recently fulfilled their dream of restoring an old, historic building & their love of antiques will likely lead to their television debut on A&E's Hoarders.

Comments: 14

  • Jennifer S.

    September 8, 2013

    Our school has had a professional photographer do the class pics the last few years because she does such a great job (outside) and you don’t get stuck with that one snapshot under a spotlight with a blue background! For $20 we get the CD with all the photos to print where we wish. But I still pay for her to process the 8×10’s for my wall because there is such a difference between the photos that come from her and the 4×6 and wallet prints I get from Costco or Snapfish/Shutterfly to send to the family!

    • Maria Martinez

      September 30, 2014

      Hi Jennifer I would like to know how much you paid for the cd please.

  • Anna M.

    September 8, 2013

    Wow! You told me you were working on this and I was looking forward to the results, but I didn’t think I would be so shocked. I have gotten pics from Snapfish and Shutterfly, and have been very happy with Snapfish and very unhappy with Shutterfly (I only ordered there once…I had ordered like 50 prints of David and I for sending out in Christmas cards and the print turned out so dark and blurry, you could barely tell it was us!) Is there a possibility that there is a variance on which Snapfish/Shutterfly location processes them or something? I will definitely look into RitzPix (I liked that photo better than mpix- it was brighter). Do you know if they ever offer great deals like Snapfish does, like 100 penny prints or free shipping during a special promotion time? I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for this research!

  • Mandy

    September 30, 2013

    That was fantastic! I was able to do 3 senior photo shoots this summer and never had any suggestions for them as to where to print from. I hope you don’t mind me using your suggestions! I have always used Shutterfly, and have had many pics that I was not completely satisfied with. Especially when I am the one taking the picture, I know what it SHOULD look like. But, because of money, I think they do a fair job. Some day I will have to use mpix, but I am afraid I will get hooked on Great looking pics instead of fair looking pics. Thanks so much for all the research!!!!

  • August 18, 2014

    great info, thanks! but I usually print through Costco and am trying to figure out how costco compares. any thoughts?

  • November 16, 2014

    I have ordered from mpix, adorama pic as well as walmart/walgeeens and a few other small labs. I wish I found this article first before all the disappointment trial and error. Well organized and very thorough. Thx!! 🙂

  • January 15, 2015

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: