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As high-quality cameras continue to become more and more accessible (think cell phones), there’s never been a better time to turn those digital pictures into tangible keepsakes.
Gone are the days of point, shoot, and hope for image quality. Today’s online printing services give customers total control over which images they want to pay to print, as well as artistic controls like cropping and color correction.
Along with the increase in image quality has come a rash of websites devoted to printing gorgeous keepsakes, from personalized photo albums to ornaments to luggage tags. It’s never been easier to create (or gift) your meaningful images. We evaluated the best photo printing services based on several factors to help you choose your best option.
Best Overall: Printique
Why We Chose It: Printique offers high-quality prints in secure packaging for the overall best experience in ordering prints online.
Reputation for quality printing and shipping
Large variety of papers
Can upload photos from a variety of hosts
Excellent for art prints
On the pricier side
Formerly known as AdoramaPix, Printique has long been relied on by the pros to do the job right. This Brooklyn-based company with a national online presence offers among the widest variety of paper stock printing options, including Kodak Endura in luster, glossy, matte, silk, and metallic finishes as well as Fuji Deep Matte. It also offers giclee fine art prints in low, medium, and heavy texture.
Printique’s standard photo print sizes range from 3.5x5 to 12x36, with prices varying depending on the size and paper chosen. A 4x6 print on Kodak Endura luster paper starts at 31 cents, while a 12x36 on the same paper costs from $17.84. Printique offers uploads from desktop, Google Photos, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, and Lightroom, giving it a boost over similar competitors in terms of convenience.
Printique’s editing software will flag a photo if its resolution is too low to print at the desired dimensions, which is a helpful feature for non-photo buffs. In addition, the website will suggest the appropriate dimensions if your first pick isn’t ideal.
Best for Photo Books: Artifact Uprising
Why We Chose It: Artifact Uprising produces high-quality printed goods like books and cards that are perfect for memorializing special moments.
Lots of creative control
Commitment to post-consumer waste materials
Only supports .jpg and .png files
When looking for an innovative way to display images and preserve moments, Artifact Uprising’s selection of custom-printed photo books, cards, and other specialty prints rise to the occasion. The brand is particularly known for its high-quality softcover photo books (from $15), hardcover photo books (from $69), and layflat photo albums (from $149).
The brand’s user-friendly website makes it easy to create beautifully arranged photo books and albums. Its specialized editing software not only guides users through the process of uploading photos and organizing the books, but also gives them the utmost creative control over aspects like layout and text. The brand’s style veers minimal, letting the photos shine through.
Artifact Uprising offers its hardcover books in a variety of colors with the option of a full photo dust jacket or half photo dust jacket. The books are made with 100 percent recycled, 100-pound Mohawk Options paper that lends them a premium feel. Softcover books come with 100 percent recycled Mohawk Options paper in a matte finish.
Best for Prints, From Small to Large: Nations Photo Lab
Why We Chose It: Nations is known for its superior printing and sturdy, quality packaging, making it a great choice for prints.
Can upload photos from Dropbox and Facebook in addition to desktop
Doesn’t offer advanced photo editing beyond color correction
Clunky photo uploading interface
Nations has cultivated a reputation as a go-to for beautifully printed photographs that are quickly delivered in packaging that stands up to the perils of shipping. For this reason, it’s an excellent choice for customers looking for frame-worthy prints of any size.
Nations allows customers to upload photos from their desktop in addition to Dropbox or Facebook, which gives it a leg up on similar photo printing services. It offers three different kinds of paper—luster, glossy, and metallic—in addition to metal prints, and the price per print varies depending on the paper. A 4x6 print on luster paper (which is akin to matte) is 32 cents, while a 20x30 runs $31.99. Prices are similar for glossy paper, at 37 cents for a 4x6 and $31.74 for a 20x30. Prices for the metallic paper (which provides a high gloss finish with chrome undertones) run higher, at 54 cents for a 4x6 and $38.35 for a 20x30.
Nations doesn't have the number of editing choices that other sites do. It offers an option to choose color correction but doesn’t give the customer control over the outcome. In addition to simple prints, Nations also offers photo books, cards, and ornamental printing on objects like keychains, luggage tags, coasters, and more.
Best for Ordering From Mobile: Mpix
Why We Chose It: Like its competitors, Mpix offers an easily navigable desktop website, but it has a leg up in offering an iOS app that allows users to order photos right from their camera roll.
Can upload from a variety of hosts
Develops digital and film photos
Mpix is reliable for producing quality prints ordered from a desktop, but it sets itself apart with its Mpix Tap to Print app, which as of December 2020 has 4.8 stars based on more than 19,000 ratings in Apple’s App Store. The app doesn’t compromise any of the services that Mpix offers on its website, like the ability to rotate, crop, and color-correct photographs as well as the option to create customized photo goods.
The app is easy to navigate, especially when it comes to laying out different paper goods. It allows users to visualize what photographs will look like on different card templates and photo books before committing to a particular layout. When it comes to printing off the mobile app, existing Mpix users can pull photos from their already-uploaded galleries. Customers can also choose to upload images from Dropbox, Facebook, or OneDrive in addition to their camera roll.
Mpix has also gained notoriety among the quality-obsessed for its sturdy shipping that ensures no bent corners or kinks in the prints.
Best Budget Option: Snapfish
Why We Chose It: Snapfish offers worthy prints at exceedingly reasonable prices.
Easy photo sharing
Lower quality prints
Snapfish, a subsidiary of equally well-known photo printing site Shutterfly, has built its brand on providing reasonably priced prints and easy online photo sharing. Snapfish’s standard prints start at 9 cents for a 4x6 with the option of glossy or matte paper. Its largest print offering, of 20x30, is $21.99 unframed. All told, Snapfish’s prints are far less pricey than more premium photo printing services like Printique and Nations.
Snapfish only offers one kind of paper with two different finishes (matte and glossy) for simple prints, which may contribute to the site’s lower price point. It doesn’t have the same kind of quality as other brands, but it passes muster as a provider of printed memories. Snapfish also makes it easy to upload and share photographs digitally with its online galleries.
Snapfish's photo packaging has had its share of detractors online due to reports of damaged products upon delivery, but the brand offers some support in getting replacements or refunds.
As image quality continues to improve alongside electronics like cell phones and point-and-shoot cameras, online photo printing services have diversified their offerings far beyond prints alone to include photo books, printed cards, tokens, and other photo memorabilia. Artifact Uprising and Nations excel at giftable photo items like albums, keychains, and mugs. Snapfish cannot be beaten regarding value. But when it comes to producing beautifully printed, substantial photographs that are delivered in protective packaging, Printique cannot be outpaced.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Photo Printing Services?
Traditionally, photo printing services offered prints on photo paper from film rolls, and later also from digital photographs. As the accessibility of high-quality cameras proliferates, many photo printing services have expanded to include not just prints but also photo books and albums and other items like t-shirts, keychains, and mugs with personal photographs printed on them.
Who Are Photo Printing Services Good For?
Photo printing services are great for those who want a tangible keepsake in a photograph rather than a digital photo. They also make sharing photographs with those who are less technologically inclined easier. Printing services are wonderful for gifting personalized items and remembering special moments.
How Much Do Photo Printing Services Charge?
There is no fixed rate for photo printing services, but of the brands included on this last, prices begin at 9 cents for a 4x6 print and go up from there. Brands that feature higher-quality paper, better depth of color, and more secure shipping are often on the pricier side. For instance, a 4x6 print from prestige brands Nations Photo Lab and Printique are 32 cents and 31 cents, respectively. The larger the print, the more expensive it will be.
How We Chose the Best Photo Printing Services
We placed emphasis on brands with a robust online presence in order to ensure that they serve a geographically wide range. We researched many photo printing sites and strove to include brands that covered a variety of services and price points. Snapfish stood out for its affordable pricing, while services such as Mpix earned a spot on our list for its easy-to-use mobile app.