Photo-Book Results: Printing-1

This is the second (and final) post about the Printing-1 photo book printing service. Last month I wrote about the ordering process, here I discuss the finished product and draw an overall conclusion comparing it with the books I saw last year ((The ordering process, the results from Apple, PhotoBox and MyPublisher.)).

The time-line looks something like this: the order went out on the evening of the 17th April; the dispatch notice email arrived on the 25th April; and the finished item arrived at lunchtime on the 30th April. This, by the way, is with express (DHL) delivery. It looks like it was printed in and dispatched from Germany. I still find it slightly surprising that, of the four services I have tried so far, only one has a full operation in the UK.

The book arrived well-protected in a thin, white packet and shrink-wrap. It looks good. I really like the spiral binding. It’s great for keeping it open at a particular page without worrying that you’re going to break the binding by pressing down too hard.

The editing tool did a good job of rendering the book and, largely, what I saw on-screen is what I got in hard-copy. In fact, in the places where they differ it’s the book that gets it right. In the ordering process I noted that some pages were blurry despite the images being of a sufficient resolution. The good news that it was just a rendering problem in the Windows application.

On the other hand, the preview didn’t prepare me for the low resolution of the finished product. I made the same complaint of my iPhoto book of Vietnam, however most people looked at me like I was crazy when I mentioned it. That’s to say, the quality is fine, certainly good enough, but it’s not as sharp as a normal photographic print or the output of a decent ink-jet.

The other issue is one that I probably should have been expecting as it comes up every time I transfer images from my Mac to a Windows machine: the images were very dark. It’s true that many of the pictures were very dark anyway — such is the case of Iceland in winter — but they still had plenty of detail when viewed on my MacBook.

Overall, though, I think most people would be very happy with the results and much of what I’ve said is me being pretty fussy. The end result, the actual photo book, is very similar whichever service you use. Some offer you more bindings or colours — and Printing-1 do very well here — but the finished products generally look very similar. Delivery times are all within a week of each other so, again, there’s little to distinguish one above the others. You’re not going to get any of them as quickly as you’d get a standard 6×4 print.

So, really, the main reason you’d pick one supplier above one of the others is the ordering process. And, unfortunately, while using Macromedia Director has allowed Printing-1 to quickly make a cross-platform application it does have more idiosyncrasies than either PhotoBoxes web site or iPhoto. Maybe on Windows — where iPhoto is not available — it is more compelling, but next time I want to order a book I will probably return to Apple’s solution.

One thought on “Photo-Book Results: Printing-1”

  1. I got bitten by that, too. The default gamma in Mac OS X is 1.8, which gives brighter images than the 2.2 gamma typical of Windows machines (and most printers, apparently). What look bright on your MB will certainly turn up darker from the print-shop.

    I re-calibrated my MBP display, re-edited some pictures and had test prints made. The results are much more accurate now. As much as I like the brighter gamma under Mac OS X, I’m having to use “that other one”.

    Good luck,

    — Eddy

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