Buyer's Guide 2008: Web Services
Boost your digital darkroom with specialty printing and image storage online
Legions of professionals use the services of Mpix as an extension of their own digital darkroom, and it's easy to understand why. Mpix is a division of Miller's Professional Labs—the largest professional photo lab in the country. They have been serving professional photographers for decades (Miller was founded in 1939) and have the experience to deliver the highest-quality prints at reasonable prices and shortest turnaround times (usually 24 hours). They also offer a broad assortment of services, including bound photo books, calendars, greeting cards and gallery wraps. And they offer true digital black-and-white services using Ilford professional black-and-white paper.
If you click the About Us link on the West Coast Imaging website, you'll see images of people instead of a traditional marketing blurb. Customers can call and talk to the person who will be printing their order. "We love to talk to our customers," says Rich Seiling, company president. "Our goal is to build long-term relationships with photographers so that we can make the lab part of their business easy. Our printmakers are experts at learning to 'read the mind' of our customers, to know what they want in a print, so that jobs can be completed with minimal effort. We work with anyone, amateur or professional, who's interested in getting the best prints they can. We'll work just as hard to make a great print for the occasional customer as we do for our regulars. We hate seeing ugly prints!"
Bay Photo was founded in 1976 with the single-minded intention of providing the highest level of quality and service possible. Like every lab mentioned here, they offer a full range of services and use the most modern, sophisticated equipment. Pros working in the San Francisco Bay area can take advantage of their delivery service, and the rest of us can use their Remote Order Entry Software (ROES). It allows one to manipulate images in several ways including crop, rotate, colorize and adding borders. You also can select from hundreds of print sizes and templates, greeting cards, calendar pages, collages and many other formats. Additionally, they offer other related finishing services, such as mounting and protective coating.
If you've never tried an online printing service, it's time to give it a try. You're better off setting up an account and getting the mechanics in place early. Then when you need that mural-sized print for your office lobby, you'll be only a few mouse clicks away.