lab print comparison | toluca lake lifestyle portrait photographer

i realized not long after starting akeiganphoto that i wanted clients to have the highest quality prints and products available.

because of this, i only send out the digital print files after they’ve added an album, wall art gallery, image box, etc to their home.

i do a lot of research into the products i offer and vendors i use, and only work with pro-only labs who have proven to be excellent at what they do and in the service they provide.

i also only sell items i myself would be excited to own.

therefore,  the files (“negatives”) are intended more as insurance to be stored safely on a client’s hard drive rather than actually be used to decorate a home or share with others.

and here’s why!

after seeing many fellow photographers post comparisons like this using every consumer lab imaginable, i decided to randomly test a few of my local spots to try it out for myself.

and ewww.

i expected it to be bad but…seriously, eww.

i will skip the paragraph where i explain the why of it (monitor and printer calibration, difference between professional and consumer lab chemicals, printers, and process…) and go straight to the results.

each image was sent in the exact same jpg size with the exact same RGB color profile.

in this image, we have (left to right):

walmart (too red and contrasty), walgreens (too green and yellow), and mpix (a little too yellow but much closer to correct and the place i recommend clients use if they plan to print beyond what they purchase from akeiganphoto).

in this image, the top photo is printed by my professional lab of choice and is also mounted, textured, and uv-coated as all my prints are. this is how it was intended to look.

below it you can see how “off” the consumer labs were in their printing of the same image.

(left to right):

costco, walmart, walgreens, mpix.

the difference in color is really obvious with the red hair. and here we have a beautiful girl with beautiful skin who is not at all jaundiced like the walgreens photo below makes her look. 🙂

so there ya have it – a little crash course in “what you get when you don’t use a professional lab for your prints”.

i found this to be a fun and interesting little experiment – even after seeing the comparison done by others, it’s so different seeing my own photos printed badly!

and this isn’t to say there’s never a time when quality isn’t that important.

there are definitely times when you just need a little 4by6 for this or that, maybe you want to put together a calendar using family images or print the photos on a cake (one of my graduation clients did that!). there are times when the digital print files are nice to have, which is why i offer them as a gift at certain price points.

but if you’re a client of mine, you can be assured you will have something gorgeous and quality in your hands first and foremost. and because you now know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed when you go to print additional images at one of the consumer labs. 🙂



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by alej

show hide 12 comments

Sarah Metz Great comparison! Professional prints are a must-have. Love this!

Kimberly Whipps WOW…these are really great examples of why people should trust the professionals.

Christy Johnson Such a great idea, and what a difference! Wow!

teri mason It’s always interesting to see the differences! Great example of why you should trust your memories to a professional 🙂

Corey Sewell Very interesting and such a great example of how clients should leave it up to the professionals!

Heather Puett Thank you! Sharing this on my page. Good work!

Yvonne Yes! Such a big difference. Thank you for sharing this!

Julie Tauro wow, what a great post. its so easy to see what a difference having a great printer makes to an image.

Lina What an eye opener, thank you for sharing!

Jeff Drongowski Great post! I’m so glad you did this.

Ania Fields I love the comparison, Alej! I must do the same and share the difference with my clients, thanks for the idea 🙂

This is a great read. I always recommend my clients use mpix to get their prints… | Newborn Photographer | Newborn Photographer | Baby Photography […] This is a great read. I always recommend my clients use mpix to get their prints through if they don't order through me. Here is why… […]

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