Out of the box:
Anticipating my exhibition (this time next year), I’m beginning to test various photoprint services. I’ve just recieved a few test prints from www.photobox.co.uk, a service which exposes digital images onto archival photographic paper. On Sunday I uploaded 6mb’s worth of JPG images to Photobox, and ordered two 10″ x 8″ prints (one B&W, one colour) and one large 12″ x 10″ (B&W). (Note for those in the UK who have an inkjet; 10″ x 8″ is roughly an A4 paper size, and 12″ x 10″ is roughly A3.)

Today my prints arrived by Royal Mail, so Photobox get full marks for speed. The matt B&W images look great, feel great on nice thick photo paper, and it’s almost impossible to tell they came from digital images. But the colour print has moved a blue sky towards a noticably darker hue. This could probably be cured by calibrating my monitor to a supplied calibration print, and then ordering a tiny 99p print first to test the colours. The largest print came from my old Fuji Finepix 3.1mpx compact digicam; some details do look slightly fuzzy when compared side-by-side to the pin-sharp shot from my new 6mpx Canon 300D. Each 10″ x 8″ cost £2.50, and the total cost for the three matt prints was £12.84 including postage.

I chose photobox because of several recommendations on blogs and message boards. Having seen what a Fuji Frontier printer can do – and not being able to afford the £400k to buy one – I now think I’ll try a local service, Cornwells, which also has a Frontier. Advantages over Photobox: (1) the local service can accept TIF files on a CD-R (Photobox expects uploaded JPG’s – and the JPG compression process changes the color values), (2) prints won’t have to be sent in a tube (Photobox’s prints came rolled in a sturdy tube), (3) I don’t loose control of where my “digital negatives” are, since I can be assured of getting my CD back with the prints. Disadvantages: their 12″ x 10″ prints are gloss only (but significantly cheaper than Photobox, so I can live with it).