With a hard drive stuffed with images, I’ve begun to investigate digital photo printing options. My old HP color printer just isn’t up to the task (it’s not up to much, actually … it’s offline more than it’s online). While I hope to get a suitable desktop digital photo printer one day, it doesn’t look like that will be in the cards anytime soon. So I’ve started to look into the many online digital photo printing services, as well as the options available in the bricks & mortar world.
There’s a whole raft of digital images from my new book that I’d like to get printed for promotional purposes. And I have a slew of great shots that I just took at the beach. Time to go shopping! I’ve heard that our local Target and Walmart stores have cool do-it-yourself digital photo printing kiosks. But seeing as I have never been (nor will I ever go) into a Walmart store, I’ll have to limit my big box photo experiment to Target. Wouldn’t you know that one of my favorite soccer moms gave me a coupon for 25 free digital prints a while back … but alas, the coupon has expired.
Thankfully, there are a host of free digital photo print offers online …
Special introductory offers are the norm. Any one of these online photo companies may offer 10, 15, 20 or more free 4 x 6 prints to entice you to sign up and use their services. Sample all the services and you’ll end up sitting on a big stack of prints … but don’t forget that you’ll probably have to pay shipping charges.
Shipping’s perhaps the biggest downsides to online digital photo printing … you’ll likely have to pay shipping charges and you’ll have to wait for those prints to be delivered. If you can wait, that’s great. But if you’re in a hurry, you’ll probably head off to a local store.
There’s a huge difference in technology between what you can do on the desktop and what can be done with conventional photo processing. In most cases, conventional prints will look a whole lot better.
Basic desktop inkjet printers use four colors of ink (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) to spray out the image. This limits the image quality, when compared to more expensive methods. Higher-end inkjets add additional inks for more vibrant colors. But if you’re really serious about printing digital photos at home, you’ll probably opt for a specialized dye sublimation printer.
No matter which home route you take, you better be ready to shell out for some expensive supplies. Specialized ink (or dye) and paper isn’t cheap. The great thing about digital photography, of course, is that you’ll only print out the great photos. You’ll save tons of money by not printing out all of the crummy shots … whether at home or with a photo printing service.
There seems to be no end to the online digital photo houses.
Just like in the real world, there’s a place to print your photos on every block. The best-known players include Shutterfly, Ofoto, Dotphoto, and Snapfish. There are moms & pops as well as big corporate entries. Sony, for example, is behind ImageStation, while Ofoto is a Kodak company. And Agfa, as you might expect, is the proprietor of AGFAnet.
And those local moms & pops? If they don’t offer digital printing services now, they better get on the stick or get ready to shut down.