UK online lab printing review

Started Apr 5, 2001 | Discussions thread
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angelman Regular Member • Posts: 166
UK online lab printing review

Following my earlier post requesting info on UK printing labs I have now come back with some results. They are fairly subjective but I hope that these brief impressions will help people make a decision.

It has to be said that at present there seems to be fairly few facilities in the UK for lab processing of digital media.

In no particular order...

All price quotes are for the smallest print size available

First off, Boots

Time taken: 1 hour

Cost: 1.49 per single print of 4 pounds for 24 (most shops are unsure how much to charge and tend to overcharge. Don't let them!)

Quality: Very good, certainly finer and richer than most inkjets. The photographic process by which they are recorded seems to dull down imperfections in the print, such as blown out whites, yet the picture is very nice and clear.
Media: Just the usual sizes and formats
Website design: n/a

Second: http://www.photobox.co.uk
Time taken: two days
Cost: 49p per print - 5.69 for 24 prints not inc. postage.

Quality: Very similar to boots, slightly richer colours, seem to use the same paper, so probably the same equipment.

Media: as many formats as you can imagine including prints with a white border which is welcome. Big 20"x30" prints at 16 pounds seem good value.

Website design: very good but a little cluttered. Could do with a slightly cleaner and clearer web site. A confirmation email is sent upon ordering and another is sent when order is despatch. There is also a tracking system too. All very efficient.

Third: http://www.fotango.com
Time taken: three days

Cost: similar to photobox but cheaper on postage. They will also process conventional film and put the results on the web + prints + photoCD if required
Quality: Again very similar to photobox
Media: even more formats including a chocolate bar with edible ink!!!
Website design: nice and clean. Very clearly laid out.

Fourth: http://www.digipics-ni.co.uk
I was given the opportunity to sample some free prints on this occasion
Time taken: next day
Cost: 1.15 for single print, 16.80 for 24 prints

Quality: excellent. These came as matte prints but had rich accurate colours and a slightly more 'professional' quality to them. They are more expensive but aim to cater for a more professional market.
Media: prints only upto 18x12"

Website design: crude but effective. Rather more "home made" than the others with few if any frills. The website is still work in progress and you cannot upload images yet. Also it has a tendency to stall or not load at all. Hopefully they will iron out these problems.

Not much to choose from in a way.

FOTANGO offers the biggest range of things to print on, everything from posters to chocolate. They also have a nice web site but took longer than the others to send the photos.

PHOTOPOINT is probably my favourite. They were fast and efficient. The website is slightly cluttered but the photos arrived in a stiff cardboard envelope with a hefty piece of card inside to prevent folding and creases.

DIGIPICS offer a more individual and professional service. They were very helpful and friendly.

BOOTS win points for being on the high street and offering a 1 hour service which is great. You put your smart media or CF card in the machine and press print and collect the prints an hour later. Unfortunately,most of the staff have no idea how the machine works (you will probably have to show them). Also the setup is really poor. You HAVE to have all the prints on your card printed and then you can select individual ones for a reprint. Why its so hard to just select a few individual prints and have them prints on their own is beyond me.

Overall the quality seems to be excellent and really noone would ever know they came from a digi cam. I think you would be hard pressed to beat them on a home printer. The cost certainly for rolls of prints, ie. 24+ pics must certainly be lower than an inkjet, however you lack the flexibilty of trying things out at home easily.

Hope this is useful, I am not a professional reviewer so please feel free to add to this review with your own thoughts, corrections and ideas...

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