As promised from a previous post, here is the information about online photo services compared. The people from Smart Computing magazine did a test of four online photo services. The services that they compared were KodakGallery, Shutterfly, Snapfish and Mpix.
First, they uploaded test photos to each site, to see how the color quality would vary, from site to site. They used images of a bouquet of flowers, a pet portrait, a regular portrait and other images with a wide range of sharpness and colors. They also sent some photos that were deliberately underexposed or that had unusual color casts, to see how each site would deal with these situations.
They had two sets of prints made from the sites (KodakGallery and Mpix) that offered automatic color correction, one with the correction and one without. One set of prints was ordered from Snapfish and Shutterfly, since Snapfish does not offer a color correction option, and Shutterfly’s optional color correction isn’t apparent when you place an order.
What they found was that Snapfish and Mpix had the best balanced color in the test prints, but none of the services offered prints that were just right. So, they took the prints and adjusted their monitor to match the prints. Then they used one photo editing tool (Levels) to correct brightness and color problems.
The second set of test prints was much better. What they discovered is that with a little work on your part, your experience with any photo finisher can be very enjoyable. Of course, there will be times when, even after you have done all you can to match your monitor to your prints, that you will receive a bunch of photos that you do not like.
One very important aspect of doing business is customer service. If you know there was nothing wrong with the images that you uploaded, contact the customer service department and request reprints. How they respond will affect which service you will use again.
For the test that Smart Computing did, Shutterfly and Mpix responded to a reprint request within and hour, and agreed to reprint the orders. Mpix then requested more information to be sure to rectify the problem, and Snapfish and KodakGallery replied after 12 hours. Kodak replied with an automated response that said someone would look into the request, and then replied with a lengthy refund/reprint form. They never did fill out the form, but Kodak then responded two days later that the order had been reprinted and shipped.
When using an online photo printing service, be sure to look over and read the terms and conditions first, so you are not disappointed later. Most sites should have a customer service link, or an easy way to contact someone if there are problems. Find a site that you like, and stick with them for the best consistency in the finished product.
And if the service you use is doing a good job, let them know, and tell all your friends about them. A lot of the time, they only hear from customers when they are unhappy. Let them know that you are very happy with their service. They may be encouraged to continue to do great work.