Printique is also on the pricier end, but the extra money gets you much better prints. I went for the Kodak Endura Luster paper (which is also what Mpix uses). Colors are very true to life, with rich blacks and good details in both shadows and highlights.
Another place Printique shines is the photo upload process. You can import images from just about anywhere, including Lightroom, Flickr, Instagram, Google Photos, Facebook, and Dropbox, or directly from your computer.
Best on a Budget
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, but you still want good-looking prints, Snapfish delivers. Snapfish doesn’t offer the same quality of prints you’ll find in our top picks, but it’s also less than a third the price and the results are not bad.
You can upload images from your computer, phone, or import them directly from social media (Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos, or Flickr). The web interface is easy to use, though as with most of the cheaper services, you’ll be constantly bombarded with upsells for books, mugs, and more.
I was surprised by the quality of prints from Snapfish considering the price. They’re better than what I got from several other services (not reviewed here) that charged more than double.
Best for Books
I’ve used Shutterfly to create everything from calendars to books and have been happy with the results, but the company’s prints are not the best.
The tonal range is good, shadows don’t disappear into pure black, and at the white end of the spectrum, clouds retain plenty of detail. But the prints have a flat look to them and the paper is flimsy compared to our top picks. I also found the constant upselling on the website tiring. Every time you upload photos, even if you’ve already said you want to make prints, Shutterfly interrupts the purchase process to say “We’ve turned your images into a book” and forces you to dismiss this unwanted dialog just to get to the thing you actually wanted to buy.
Given the subpar purchasing experience and lack of outstanding results, I only recommend Shutterfly for prints if you’re on a tight budget, since it is cheaper than Mpix or Printique. Where Shutterfly excels are those books they’re always trying to sell you on. I’ve been happy with the results of both books and calendars.
Best for Portraits
Nations Photo Lab
Nations Photo Lab prints on quality paper, and the packaging is the best of the bunch. It’s hard to imagine anything ever happening to your images in transit the way the company secures them, although shipping times are among the slowest.
While the prints are high quality, I found that many times, especially with landscapes, colors are washed out. Highlights, especially bright white clouds against a blue sky, lack detail compared to the same images from Printique. The results for portraits are much better. Nations’ color correction does an excellent job with skin tones and produces the best portrait-style prints of the services I tested.
What I really dislike about Nations is the website. It’s slow and sometimes difficult to navigate (and I never could get it to give me a receipt). If you want to upload a lot of photos to Nations, the far better option is to use the third-party app Remote Order Entry System (ROES). It’s a Java-based desktop app that, once set up, greatly improves the experience.