Review Photo lab comparison

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#1
I have carried out another comparison of online photo processing labs; unlike last time's subjective comparison http://www.pistonheads.co.uk/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&t=401519 where we picked our favourite photos, this time I am comparing the prints to my freshly calibrated monitor (I'm impressed with my Eye One Display 2, BTW).

Interestingly, the results are quite different to those achieved with the subjective comparison, and I'll discuss some of the reasons for this later.

The photos used were a mixture of my own pics and calibration / test images from various places. The prints were a mixture of 7x5 and 6x4s, ordered a week apart. Note that these results may not apply to larger prints. I know that Photobox for one uses different printers for small prints and large prints.

Anyway, my ranking and comments are as follows, from best to worst:

1st CostCo (in store)
Note: 7x5 prints only
Pros: Most consistent accuracy between screen and prints
Cons: Colours slightly unsaturated. One print had a textured pattern pressed into the corner.

2nd Bonusprint
Pros: Vivid colours, bright prints.
Cons: Prints too sharp. Yellow cast to colours.

3rd Photobox
Pros: Vivid colours
Cons: Red/magenta cast and some prints too dark. EmmaP suggests using a lighten curve: Input>115, Output>140.

4th Canon ip4200
Pros: Vivid, fairly accurate colours
Cons: Unable to print true B&W (green cast to greys). Slightly soft images. Unable to reproduce the tonal range of the labs.

5th Kodak Easyshare Gallery
Pros: Muted but realistic colours
Cons: Some prints slightly dark. Banding on almost all prints. Sticker attached to one print (!).

6th Fujifilm Processing Laboratory
Notes: 6x4 prints only. If you select the 'fit to print' option, the lab physically crops any white borders on the top / sides of the print, resulting in smaller photos.
Pros: Err...
Cons: Overly saturated colours. Very contrasty prints. Yellow/orange colour cast.

So, a different set of results from those posted previously, but that might have been expected anyway. Last time each print was ranked in order of preference by myself and two others in a subjective comparison. The problem was that the images were prepared on my not-as-calibrated-as-I-thought monitor. So although CostCo did a good job of reproducing the images I now see on my calibrated monitor, they are not, subjectively speaking, the most pleasing!

I contacted Bonusprint to enquire as to why their prints were so sharp (too much so) compared to everyone else's. Their response was that they do no post processing but their printers must be set up differently.

Something I didn't mention was that the 7x5 prints from each lab and the 6x4 prints were almost identical to each other despite being ordered a week apart.
 
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482
Name
Jamie Adams
Edit My Images
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#2
Thanks for that. I too found that Photobox produced prints that are a little dark.

Never used any any of the others, but useful info to have anyway.
 
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