I am often asked from clients, friends and family, where is the best place to have their portraits printed. I do offer prints and products for my clients to purchase, but as I do include a USB with personal printing releases for my clients, it’s important to make sure you choose your photo lab carefully.
So I decided to order a test print from assorted labs around Saskatoon, and then also from the professional lab that I order my products from, and then compare it against the digital file I have to see which lab offered the best quality. I really was surprised by the results… and if I’m being honest, not in a good way. I was really disappointed.
This affirmed to me that it is really REALLY important to choose a good lab to have your photos printed. These are your prints!! These will be in your family albums, hanging up in your home, or even gifted out to family and friends…. you want them to look their absolute best.
Here is the original file (now, this may vary on different computer screens, my monitor is calibrated):
And here is the test prints that I got back:
(I scanned the actual prints to create the collage in this post, so there is a bit of extra distortion, but you can really get a sense of the variations between all the labs. I do have the prints in my office, and can always have them on hand during a consultation if you would like to take a closer look for yourself)
1) London Drugs: I was really disappointed with what I got back from here…. you can see the lines from the printer…. honestly, I fell like this turned out worse than if I just printed it off on my own inkjet printer. The contrast is too high, and saturation is up, and definitely darker than the original.
2) WalMart: Saturation is up, and the whole image is soft and unfocused. I only ordered the one print, but I have also heard that each photo kiosk can vary greatly.
3) Costco: Contrast is up, the whole image is darker, and the yellows are too prominent.
4) Shopper’s: The contrast is much lower compared to the other labs. The image turn out very nice and sharp though.
5) Don’s Photo: Very happy with how this one turned out, as I do always recommend my clients print their photos there, and print most of my own personal prints through them as well. Comparing Don’s Photo to the pro lab image is VERY similar, the only difference I would mention is it is a little cooler in the color tones. (You can order online as well!)
6) Pro Lab: This is the company I use regularly when clients are ordering prints and other products through me. This one is definitely the closest match to what I see on my monitor, so I am confident when ordering through them that the quality is going to be great.
I hope this helps you when choosing a lab to order your prints through, and to get the best quality that you can for your family’s prints!
I’d love to hear what you think, if you’d like to leave a comment!!