Digital photo print services review (part 1)
[Home] -- [review part 2 - June 2004]

Introduction -- Test photos -- Cost -- Ease of use -- Delivery time -- Image quality -- Compare scans -- Cropping -- Final results

Ease of use

Each online print service offers software to organise your photos, do simple editing, upload them to their server, order prints, etc. The software is either downloaded and run on your PC as a Windows application or you interact with it remotely via a web browser.

Some companies offer more features than others - e.g. red-eye removal, or on-line photo albums for friends/family to view or order their own prints. I have not considered this additional functionality here as it is not important to me - I can edit my photos with my own favourite applications and I can use my own webspace for sharing photos with friends.

The important issues for me were how easy it was to upload my photos and whether I could choose how a 4:3 aspect ratio image would be cropped to 3:2 for printing at 6x4 or 7x5.

Note that most companies also offer to print your images at 4:3 which results in either larger or smaller prints (e.g. 6x4.5 or 5.3x4), but these may not fit into some photo albums or frames. Most companies also offer the option of not cropping 4:3 images but to print the full image with white borders on the short edges to pad it out to 3:2 - but I prefer the image to cover the entire print.

Download Pix software - easy to select white borders or crop, easy to crop. Score: 4/5.

Download Boots Image viewer - easy to select/crop. Note that the Boots, Colab and digi-prints software was almost identical, differing only in skin and logo. Score: 4/5.

Canon i850
Need to do cropping in photo editing software. Need to experiment with printer driver settings to get best print quality. Score: 3/5.

Download Colab Image Viewer - same as Boots and digi-prints. Score: 4/5.

Download Media Storehouse Viewer - same as Boots and Colab. Score: 4/5.

Peak Imaging
Download Peak Imaging Online software - not possible to crop 4:3 aspect ratio images - need to do this in another package before selecting image. Quality indicator is useful. Score: 3/5

Upload images to photobox via ftp client or web browser. Cropping done via web browser after upload. Can select white borders or crop. Can also select arbitrary crop anywhere in the image. Easy to use. Ftp upload is great for bulk orders. Score: 5/5.

Download Photodeal Internet Printing software. Cropping done by zooming in/out and moving image - slightly less friendly than selecting crop area from full image. Score: 4.5/5.

Upload via web, email, Java client or download Pixum-Up software. Not possible to crop photos via web browser - if you want an exact 6x4 you need to edit it beforehand to the correct aspect ratio, otherwise you will receive a print 4" high and a width of between 4" and 7" depending on the aspect ratio. The Pixum-Up software can crop the images to the correct aspect ratio before uploading them, though. Can disable photo optimisation by Pixum. Score: 3/5.

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Bonusprint -- Boots -- Canon i850 inkjet -- Colab -- Digi-prints -- Peak Imaging -- Photobox -- Photodeal -- Pixum

© David Griffin, November 2003