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Snapfish are an online digital photo printing service that allow you to upload your digital photos onto a website, organise photos and order prints and enlargements, as well as a range of products printed with your images. I think that Photobox is their main rival to Snapfish and they offer pretty much the same service and pricing, so I have to admit that my choice was a little arbitrary. New customers currently receive 40 free prints on both websites (and a few others), so it is tempting to go round them all and paying nothing for prints. In the end, this doesn't actually save money as you have to pay P&P with each order, but you can get free prints by introducing friends.
The order process
To begin, you need to register on Snapfish and then upload some photos. The website looks good and is easy to navigate, with a useful page upload for multiple prints. Time taken to upload pictures can vary greatly and occasionally I have given up an tried again another time due to slow upload speeds. Photos can be organised into folders, for example a folder for you holiday snaps. The photos don't need to be deleted as Snapfish offer unlimited online storage, allowing you to return and purchase more products without have to upload again. You can then go into the folder and choose which images to order as prints, or simply add the whole folder to your basket.
As well as the standard chocies of prints and enlargements, Snapfish offer a wide range of 'gift' products which display your choice of photo(s), including large acrylic and canvas prints of your images, which look great on a wall in your home. The main product they offer is probably the wide range of 'photobooks' you can create. these are designed to replace the traditional photo album. You can choose the order and write captions for each photos in a photobook and choose form of sizes, styles and covers. They also offer many other items including calenders, mugs, clothes bags, posters and stationery. They all look good and make excellent gifts, but I haven't actually bought any of the above because I find them too expensive.
I have found the pricing to be reasonable and competitive for internet services of this type,and significantly cheaper than digital photo printing services found in shops (e.g. Boots and Jessops)
To get the cheapest 6x4 prints possible, I used their photo pre-order service. By purchasing 500 prints in advance for £25 it reduces the price from the normal 9p to a a fantastic 5p per print. You can use them whenever you want - they never expire, but I was surprised how quickly I used them. The different prices for 6x4 and 7x5 prepaid print are as follows and can save you up to 44%. Once you have payed for prepaid prints, you can order as many or few as you like. However, be warned that you have to pay for P&P each time you make an order.
Pre-paid Prints - Price each 250 6" x 4" prints - £0.07 500 6" x 4" prints - £0.05 150 7" x 5" prints - £0.18 300 7" x 5" prints - £0.17
P&P for prints is as follows: 1-50 prints - 99p 51-500 prints - £1.49 501+ prints - £1.99
The 500 I last ordered prints arrived within the 2 - 5 working days quoted on the website (although after my estimated delivery time). The prints were all in good condition and reasonably packaged in several ordinary photo envelops inside a cardboard box. this is satisfactory, although I've heard that high volume Photobox print orders are presented in nicer boxes.
Problems & Solutions
In the options for prints, they offer a 'border' option - I don't recommend this as many of the prints I ordered had thick, wonky white borders and looked unprofessional. The colours of the prints are not always the same as in the digital photo and most of the prints came out darker than I expected. I tweaked the exposure on all my prints, so this dark tone could be something to do with my screen calibration, so next time I will brighten the images before uploading. The last problem I had was with a few pictures that had been heavily cropped to a low resolution or taken with a very low (about 3) megapixel camera. The resulting prints looked much more noisy and pixelated than they looked on the screen , at the same physical size. So, I recommend using Snapfish for high resolution prints and you will have no issues over quality.
Snapfish is a quick and easy way to order prints of reasonable quality on the internet. The folder system is useful and 520 prints later, I plan to go back for more, despite the odd problem with print quality. The 'gift' products are very appealing, but too pricey for me.