Tag Archives: Shutterfly

Kodak Gallery shutting down—what are the best remaining options for photo prints online?

A recent email informed me that Kodak Gallery, my source for online photo prints for many years, is shutting down. Kodak has sold its Internet-based photo-printing operation to Shutterfly as part of its efforts to recover from financial woes. Kodak plans to transfer customers’ images to Shutterfly at no charge, and it will close the virtual doors to Kodak Gallery on July 2, 2012.

This move does not come as a huge surprise to me. In a January blog post, I noted how customer service was going downhill at Kodak Gallery, and I began my search for a new place to print pictures and create photo books and gifts online.  My research led me to conduct a comparison test of four photo-printing sites: Shutterfly vs. Snapfish vs. Mpix vs. AdoramaPix. Snapfish came out the winner, followed by a strong showing from Mpix. Shutterfly did not receive a single vote. I recommend trying Snapfish and Mpix at least one time each to decide which you prefer.

If you’re a Kodak Gallery customer, I recommended declining the option to have your photos transferred to Shutterfly. You won’t be happy with the quality of photos and photo products you receive. You have until May 28 to opt out of the planned transfer, and you can learn more about the Kodak Gallery transition to Shutterfly online. If you have any unfinished photo projects you still want to order from Kodak Gallery, make sure you do so by noon Pacific time on July 2. Right now, Kodak Gallery is offering 25 percent off all orders.

If you have any photos stored on the Kodak Gallery website that you don’t have anywhere else, I recommend downloading them to your computer or another backup device, even if you are allowing Kodak to move them to Shutterfly.

Have you tried Snapfish or Mpix in the past? What did you think of their photo products?

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Filed under Business news, Customer service, Shopping tips

Photo comparison: Shutterfly vs. Snapfish vs. Mpix vs. AdoramaPix—which online photo prints have the best quality?

Numerous websites offer to print your digital photographs and ship them to your home—but which of those sites offers the best photo quality? As I mentioned in a previous post, Kodak Gallery has long been my go-to site for all things photo, but a recent decline in customer service sent me in search of a new business partner.

It is hard to take a good picture of photo prints, but here are the photos I ordered (click on image to enlarge):
Top left: Snapfish; top right: Mpix
Bottom left: AdoramaPix; Bottom right: Shutterly

I decided to put four photo-printing sites to the test: mainstream competitors Shutterfly and Snapfish, along with two other companies whose names may not be as familiar to you— Mpix and AdoramaPix. Mpix says it is the largest professional photography lab in the United States. AdoramaPix is affiliated online camera store Adorama.

The process

I selected five photos I took on a Canon digital SLR camera. Four were outdoor shots taken on a cloudless day, while the fifth was an indoor shot taken with a flash in mediocre lighting conditions. Before submitting my orders, I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to crop and adjust lighting in the photos. When placing each order, I used the companies’ default ordering options for color correction. When ordering from Mpix, I selected the more-expensive “pro quality” prints; they’re reviewed by color correction technicians and printed on premium paper.

After the photos arrived, I asked four people to review them: two men and two women. I presented the reviewers with one photo at a time, laying the four versions of the photo in a grid pattern for them to compare. I asked the reviewers to look for clarity and color accuracy. I also asked them to choose the the version of the photo they’d most want to put in their own photo album. I reviewed the photos on my own as well, following the same process.

When the reviewers were complete, I gave each company one “point” for each time its photograph was selected as the winner in its group. Then, I totaled the points.

Here's the photo I submitted to the companies for printing.

Here’s the photo I submitted to the companies for printing.

The results

Snapfish received the most votes, with a total of 16 out of a possible 30 points. Reviewers who favored this company’s prints said its photos were clearer and brighter than the others. One reviewer said he was willing to settle for less-than-perfect color in the Snapfish prints because of their sharpness.

Mpix came in a strong second, with 12 points. Reviewers who picked its prints felt they did a better job of delivering true skin tones and vibrant colors.

AdoramaPix finished a distant third, with only two votes. Shutterfly received no votes.

Other considerations for the frontrunners

Snapfish and Mpix had equally fast shipping. I ordered from both companies on a Thursday and received my order two days later.

Snapfish is the clear winner on price. Its prints cost 9 cents each, while the pro-quality version I ordered from Mpix cost 29 cents each. All prints were 4 x 6 inches in size.

Mpix charged $3.00 to ship five photos. Snapfish charged $2.46 to ship 30 prints.

Both companies get high marks for their communication with the customer. They promptly confirmed receipt of my order and notified me when the order shipped. Mpix and Snapfish also provided tracking numbers for my photo print packages.

Summary

Both Mpix and Snapfish offer solid-quality photos, but reviewers rated Snapfish the best by a modest margin. Its lower prices for prints and shipping cement its position as the winner of this photo comparison.

Stay tuned for future comparison tests pitting Snapfish against other competitors.

Update: I recently completed a digital photo calendar comparison pitting Snapfish against York Photo.

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Filed under Customer service, Saving money

Ebates: an easy way to get extra cash back when shopping online

One of my favorite ways to save money on online purchase is through Ebates, a website that gives you cash back on all purchases initiated through its website. When shopping, just go to Ebates, then use the search box or retail categories to find the store where you want to make a purchase. Click the link provided, and you’re done! Ebates sends you to your destination website and initiates a “tracking ticket” that automatically notifies Ebates of your purchase amount at the chosen store. Ebates converts a percentage of your purchase into a cash rebate, then sends your accumulated rebates to you on a quarterly basis. You can get your cash deposited into your PayPal account, request a check for your earnings or give the money to a charity or family member.

Cash back amounts range from 1 percent to 25 percent and are available at hundreds of stores and service providers, including Petsmart, Target, Kohl’s, Barnes and Noble, Toys R Us, Shutterfly, Travelocity, Nordstrom, Teleflora, Crate and Barrel and Vera Bradley. Ebates also gives you coupon codes that can help you save more money on your purchase when entered on the retailer’s website.

Membership in Ebates is free. Just fill out the simple registration form, and start shopping. Right now, Ebates is offering you a free gift card for a major retailer just for signing up.

Keep a few tips in mind to make the most of your Ebates experiences:

    • Make your purchase only in the retailer window opened by Ebates. If you accidentally close it, go back to Ebates and link to the website again to open another tracking ticket. Unless you go through Ebates to get to your store’s website, you won’t earn any cash back.
    • Take advantage of Ebates for big purchases you would normally make in a local store. For example, when if you’re buying a new appliance, buy it through the Lowe’s, Sears or Home Depot website. Purchase a new computer from Best Buy, Dell, HP, OfficeMax and other retailers to rack up more bucks. You can earn substantial cash back on large purchase like these and still apply any discount coupons you have for the retailer.
  • Ebates offers special promotions that increase the percentage of cash back available at select retailers. If there’s an item you aren’t in a hurry to purchase, monitor the cash back percentage to get the most bang for your buck. The Web site also offers a “daily double” feature on its home page that double the cash back for a different retailer each day.

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Filed under Rewards programs, Saving money, Shopping tips