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I wish I could remember the location but my parents recently sent their photos to this place for printing. I have never seen worse print jobs in my life. Colours were wrong it was some sort of matte finish and the pictures were not even the same size when printed (4x6).

The store did not leave white borders between pictures so that when they cut them apart they would trim portions of the above and below picture.

My home printer would blow these prints out of the water.

I sent them some coupon codes for free prints at rogersphoto.ca in the hopes they will try it again. For these codes go to redflagdeals.ca. An interesting site.

I personally have used blacks and futureshop (before they got their own service). I found prints to be very good from both locations. I am also impressed with my own photo prints from my printer.
 

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I did a comparison of Photo labs in February. Here is a copy of my comments from another forum.

PS. We had alway processed our film at Black's before we bought a digital camera and had great results.




"A few weeks ago we took the plunge and went digital (Canon S45). I decided to send our first set of 20 indoor pictures to multiple print shops to see if we could tell a difference between them. I was shocked at how different they were.

I decided to try black's and Henry's to see how they compared. I figured that they should produce above average results.

Black's - These were the worst prints. It looked like they pushed contrast with these prints. The dark colours were too dark and the light colours were too bright. The contrast initially looked neat but after comparing to the our photo shops I could easily see that a lot of the detail was washed out in the black's and whites. Faces didn't look natural.

Henry's - These prints were much better than Black's. The lighting and the colours were good except that I noticed there seemed to be an unnatural push of red in the faces of people. This red push was more noticable in some pictures than others.

After these results I decided to try 2 more places.

Japan Camera - These prints were very good. They were not as bright as the digital image on my computer but the color and detail was overall very good.

Loblaws - These prints were also very good. They were brighter than the prints from Japan Camera but the color and detail was very good. For some prints the colour was slightly more accurate than Japan Camera's print while with other prints the Japan Camera prints had slightly more accurate colours. Also, Loblaws was the only one not able to print on a matte finish.

The decision came down to Japan Camera or Loblaws. My wife and I felt that the biggest difference between the 2 was the brightness of the prints. We felt that the Loblaws print had the most natural lighting and was closest to the digital print. The glossy print wasn't any detriment once they were placed in our photo album.

We are still in the early stages of digital prints, so a year from now I may decide to do this again to see if anything has changed. Then again if I were to send them in again tomorrow I may have a different leader. But for now I'll stick with loblaws.

Now if only someone could produce prints that exactly matched my digital images, as they had the most accurate colours and the best lighting. Maybe next year."

So has anything changed in the past year? Maybe I should resend those same 20 pictures to Black's today to see if they have improved.
 

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hoodlum, thanks for your post and good to see that you did your own comparision.
 

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not a comparison, but...

I've been to many photofinishers, trying to find the best bang for the buck. While spending more is no gurantee of quality, I've found that the least expensive choices may not leave operating room for good quality.

Some observations:

Drop off a card for printing (no desktop manipulation):

Wal-mart in my area crops photos heavily. In order to make sure their prints are full bleed they overprint more than I would have expected. I've received enlargements with 10% of the image missing top and bottom. They also apply some pretty generic, hard hitting colour and sharpness corrections. I will not use them again and actively discourage friends from bothering.

Futurephoto developed more reliable results. Not as smooth as taking control into your own hands, but pretty reasonable.

Ezprints.com, while based in the U.S. is cheap, and may edge out futurephoto on quality.

Black's was never able to answer any of my questions about equipment or special orders.

Manage your own process:

If you are going to do your own colour correction and sharpen based on print size, you should find a lab that can intelligently answer these questions without hesitation:

- What printer resolution is your hardware printing natively? The answer is often 320 dpi, and implies operator familiarity with the equipment. If the answer has anything to do with megapixels or minimum recommendations, they're likely blowing smoke.

- Can you print with "no corrections"? This means that for your prints they will turn off colour correction, contrast adjustments (black and white point) and sharpening. If they're not familiar with doing this, they're not good enough to judge appropriate levels for the use of correction tools if you _do_ let them use them.

Find a good local lab that you can upload to, drop off at etc. and use them. If being able to control your process is what you're into, an extra $.05 per 4x6, or $.50 extra for 5x7, is well worth it.

FWIW, for me in the Kitchener/Waterloo region it's shutterbug.ca (Highland Imaging). They can accept special instructions on the photoupload, and generally follow instructions well.

Cheers - Graham.
 

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thanks Graham, some great advice!
 

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guys,

I have a stoopid question (I'm full of them today): Can you buy matte photo paper for printing digital photos and/or can photofinishers finish on matte instead of gloss (we're two days away from a purchase of computer and camera so I...er...my wife needs to know).

J
 

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Johnneeukca said:
can photofinishers finish on matte instead of gloss
Hi Johnneeukca,

It's my experience that most photofinishers have matte paper loaded and that gloss paper is by request only.

I've had to assume that one-hour p-finishing will generally be matte and allow an overnight with my local labs if I want gloss (which I generally do, as I prefer the perceived (or real) sharpness that's available. That said, if they're snapshots for passing around I'll go matte.

Cheers - Graham.
 

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I have some comments. If you're not printing a "huge number" of prints, cost should probably NOT enter the equation. What should enter the equation?

- use prints of the proper size for the "negative" so that there's no cropping, unless you want cropping.

- I find "matte" best because you can see it without reflections. I always use good matte glass on my frames too.

- Past experience may come into play - some 'cheaper' chemicals don't last very long. I have prints that are over 30 years old that still look like new (always went to a pro photo lab for enlargements (8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 20x24, etc) , or Kodak, or someone else reputable for 4x6 prints). I see friends' prints from several years ago that are fading.

- I just bought my first digital camera to experiment with. Bought a new Nikon 3200 for the equivalent of C$140 before tax, via US e-bay.

In a year or two, I'll probably buy a digital camera with 2-3 times the pixels to replace my film cameras, having learned what I need/don't need.
 

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Some additional resources

I love this thread - and hope more feedback comes in on direct reviews. I ran across some additional resources that may help some people decide what to try (and hopefully they'll post their experiences here).

A very thorough set of links for someone who's trying to find out all they can:
http://www.chebucto.ns.ca/~rakerman/digiphoto.html#Print-Online
He also describes the services he's tried, but in terms of functions/options, and not quality of prints.

http://www.hubcanada.com/story_11215_37
Reviews FutureShop, Wal-mart, and Shutterfly (plus AOL) for price and quality.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&call_pageid=971358637177&c=Article&cid=1076281808840
Toronto Star article a year back, with prices and ratings for: Walmart, Loblaws, Japan Camera, Fut. Shop, Black's.
 

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This is an interesting thread. I have been printing a lot of digital pics on my Canon i860 photo ink-jet printer and the quality of prints that I get are fantastic. It is, however, starting to get expensive printing at home. I want to try out some of the photo labs but have been hesitant because I am unsure of how they process the pics and whether they will ruin my setting for each pic. I shoot in RAW and process all my photos in photoshop, so I don't want to spend all that time just to get crappy prints.

Does anyone know if the photo labs (Blacks, Japan, Future, etc.) use a standard/template/default setting for all their processing or is done manually by a technician for each photo. If the latter, then it will be pointless to compare any of the photolabs as they will differ from shop to shop depending on the technician.

Another thing I am unsure of is what colour space they will be using; Adobe RGB or sRGB? I find that printing photos processed in Adobe RGB using sRGB produced "washed-out" pics.
 

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ipfree said:
Does anyone know if the photo labs (Blacks, Japan, Future, etc.) use a standard/template/default setting for all their processing or is done manually by a technician for each photo. If the latter, then it will be pointless to compare any of the photolabs as they will differ from shop to shop depending on the technician.

Another thing I am unsure of is what colour space they will be using; Adobe RGB or sRGB? I find that printing photos processed in Adobe RGB using sRGB produced "washed-out" pics.
I think you're approaching the somewhat complex territory known as colour management...

Here's a good site for overviews:

http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Learn/resources.htm

They discuss profiles, and their usage:

http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Learn/profiles.htm

And also provide example instructions for how to crop and instruct a lab not to mess with your corrections (more than Fuji Frontier examples are given, scroll down):

http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Frontier/using_printer_profiles.htm

For example, at Phoenix Pro Labs (Toronto) you can download the .icc profiles for their Noritsu printers:

http://www.phoenixprolabs.ca/accountServices.php *then click the downloads button).

I haven't printed there yet, but appreciate their attempt to calibrate their printers through DryCreek so that I can get what I see on screen. I'll report results once I print there later this month.

Other good reading: RGB Soft Proofing in Photoshop:
http://www.computer-darkroom.com/ps6_softproof/ps6_softproof_1.htm
 

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Thanks for the links which I'm certainly gonna check out. I've done this whole process with regular SLR and honestly found the only consistent thing was inconsistency! i'd finally got it down to a round of various stores in my area and found a couple of really enthusiastic people who were willing to spend the time to give me good prints - surprisingly from London Drugs and Overwaitea. What I like about both - in Vancouver - is that they're cheap but good. The trick was to find the right person and stick to them until they get fed up with you, then try someone else and give them a rest for a while! Trouble is, there's not the expertise with digital yet and so I have to do the same thing all over again. London drugs cropped or gave me weird borders and when i asked what was the best size for me to shoot at so that I could get my whole picture into a 4X6 they didn't know and I still don't - anyone help me on that?? As for the matte thing - I always ask for matte - I love it and find most labs will change from matte to shiny as you like, so I don't think you'll have a problem.
 

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marilyn said:
when i asked what was the best size for me to shoot at so that I could get my whole picture into a 4X6 they didn't know and I still don't - anyone help me on that?? .
A 4x6 picture has a size ration of 1.5 (6 divided by 4). The picture taken by my wife's Nikon 5900 has a ratio of 1.3 For example (in pixels)
2592x1944
2048x1536
1600x1200 etc

So as you can see there is no right size for a 4x6 as all sizes have a ratio of 1.3.

If you want to contol what your picture will look like then you'll need to use some photo editing software to crop the picture before sending it to the finisher.
 

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Hello

Bents Camera in Waterlo is where I get my photo processing done.
Been going there for years.
It is not the cheapest place for prints, but I have always been satisfied with their service and quality of work.
 

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Yes, you can upload files for processing.
I downloaded the software from the fotosource web site.
As far as what equipment, I do not know.
They do not have a web site but their e-mail address is below.
mailto:[email protected]
 

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Thanks Bobsy - I sent an email with a few questions - I'll edit this response if/when I receive a reply from Bent's.
 

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Lens & Shutter offers excellent Kodak photofinishing and had good online submission software. Free pickup in the nearest store.
 
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