Friday, October 22, 2010

Printing Photographs

Photographs printed by Mpix and Mpix Pro.Over the years I have taken a lot of photographs, but almost 100% of them never end up on paper. There are only two that cases I can think of when we actually had printed photographs — our wedding (the studio printed them for us after the wedding) and a bunch of pictures of friends and family members to pin onto our clipboard.

Everything else goes onto the web or just is stored on our HDs and DVDs. I started thinking however that I have a large empty wall in my office at work and I could just print out some of my photographs and put them up. I remembered that before we used Snapfish for printing, but I just couldn’t take the website UI this time around, so I gave up before I started.

Boxes from Mpix.A day later I saw an ad for Mpix in Popular Photography and I gave it another try. Even though UI wasn’t a huge jump it was more usable and I was able to complete the process without too much pain.

A day later I decided to look for reviews and see what other people were using. A lot of good things were said about Mpix Pro and I was happy that I picked them. However soon after I realized that Mpix Pro and Mpix are actaully different sites, owned by the same company however. In addition to that Mpix Pro offered to print 5 shots for free as a test upon account creation. So I did that as well.

Opened boxes with cellophane wrapped packages.I ended up with 2 orders of 5 photographs each. From Mpix I ordered prints in the size of 12 x 8 inches (3:2) for $2.99 each with a single matboard attached to the back for $3.50 each additional. I selected E-Sureface paper — matte paper — the cheapest choice.

From Mpix Pro I ordered prints in the size of 10 x 8 inches on the same paper, but without mats on the back. As I said before these were given to me for free.

Prints are in envelopes.For this size I had to crop the selected photographs as most of my shots are closer to 3:2 format. I also made an unpleasant discovery that for some reasons until a recent time I used to only save a processed photo in 1024 pixels size without saving the actual original Photoshop file. So if I wanted to print a high resolution image I had to do the processing work again — a very silly thing to do.

I placed both orders late night Wednesday and I had 2 boxes in my hands early morning Friday, delivered by FedEx. The prints themselves came out gorgeous.

Photos and a catalog from Mpix Pro.Lately I have been worried that my factory calibrated monitor makes photos look much better than they really are. Since most people see them through the browser they probably do see them in a worse “light”, but the prints came out exactly as I see them, which made me happy. This actually reassured me that I should stick to the same post-processing process that I have now.

Photographs were carefully packaged and sealed in cellophane wrap. Each print was placed in an envelope. Mpix Pro has included a sample of their papers and a catalog. Some of those samples look amazing — Metallic paper leaves an impression.

Side by side prints from Mpix Pro (left) and Mpix (right).It looks like that both sites use the same print lab. I can’t really see a difference in quality. Landscape shots came out looking sharp and clear. On the portrait the details are more visible and I should pay more attention to skin in the future.

Either way, I’m very happy with the results. Next step is trying to order a bigger format print and seeing how 12 megapixel images hold up. Maybe I’ll try 36 x 24 and a frame next.
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