We compare 6 online photo books printer to see which offers the best product and service. Before that, you should check few things.
5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR
- There’s no need to convert your RGB images to CMYK color before you upload them.
- Most companies offer online browser-based book creators for speed and simplicity.
- Edge-to-edge printing boosts a photo’s impact, but the borderless look will slightly crop your shot
- A lay-ﬂat binding avoids the problem of images disappearing where pages meet the spine
- The glossy paper helps boost color vibrancy, whereas a matte ﬁnish can hide ﬁngerprints.
We opted for Lustre Photographic pages with a lay-ﬂat binding. This costs a reasonable $12.47 over a 26-page Classic hardback book, and it’s well worth it. The 300gsm paper weight feels more like a card, and the luster ﬁnish is sheer class. Then there’s Bob’s print process, which is a cut above all but Loxley’s. There’s no sign of individual ink droplets, and images are the sharpest here.
Colors are vibrant yet accurate, skin tones near-perfect, and monochrome images are free from color casts. We couldn’t even spot any issues with our tricky printer test pattern image. 5 book design options are available. We went for the slick, easy-to-use online creator tool, but there’s also downloadable software, an iPad app, and even a professional design service.
This size of photo book starts at just $34.63, but a photo-printed hardcover adds an extra $6.93, and we also specced lay-ﬂat premium pages, which carry a 25p-per-page surcharge. However, like Photobox and Snapﬁsh, Bonusprint often runs generous discount codes.
Book creation using the online designer is effortless and is almost on par with Snapﬁsh’s software. The book itself arrived in a swift four working days, and it looks the part. Cover image quality isn’t quite as crisp as with Bob Books but comes very close to color saturation, contrast and overall punch. Inside, the thick lay-ﬂat pages have marginally less luster than Bob’s, but are just as thick and feel equally luxurious. Like the cover image, print resolution is ever so slightly lower than Bob’s, leaving individual ink droplet patterns visible on larger areas of solid color, and causing very ﬁne detail to appear slightly grainy – but we are nit-picking.
Where most of the printers here cater to the mass market, Loxley is a high-end outﬁt for enthusiasts and pro photographers. To that end, you’ll need to download the Loxley Designer Pro software to compile your book. Compared to online creators, this is ﬁddly, with an archaic interface design.
Thankfully, the ﬁnished book is far more impressive. It’s 3:2 aspect ratio is ideal for DSLR images, while the Fujicolor Professional DP II Lustre paper has an identical ﬁnish to Bob’s paper, but is even thicker: it’s stunning. Print quality is equally gorgeous, with sumptuous color and contrast, the best skin tones on the test, and excellent monochrome quality.
There’s no ink droplet patterning visible under close scrutiny, and our test pattern image printed ﬂawlessly. Unfortunately, Loxley can’t take top honors, due to a matte cover image that lacks punch (gloss is also available, though), while the images aren’t quite as sharp as those in the Bob book.
Photobox is an online printing giant that almost always has discounts available, so there’s a big chance you won’t pay the full price we’ve quoted. It also offers polished online book creation software that’s very easy to use, with a basic but helpful 3D book preview, plus plenty of background, layout and cropping choices.
We went for Photobox Personalised photo book, which comes with a printed hardcover in A4 or A3 size. In standard spec with 170gsm paper, it lacks some luxury, but this can be boosted with 230gsm premium paper. Print quality is also a mixed bag, with a relatively low resolution that leaves ink droplet patterning visible under close inspection.
Consequently, the ﬁne detail in our test pattern isn’t the best, and even regular photos are visibly less sharp than those in the Bob or Loxley books. On the plus side, skin tones are well-reproduced, while black-and-white shots are free from color casts.
We had high hope for this as the design process was one of the most painless we tried. The online Snapfish book creator is fast intuitive and a pleasure to use with plenty of useful page layout templates and none of the gimmicky looks ﬂaunted by some. Delivery was quick, too, taking four working days. Sadly, the book wasn’t worth the wait. Our hardback gloss cover image, though vibrant, is far too dark, completely obscuring any shadow detail. To add insult to injury, the image is misaligned, leaving an unsightly tapering white border along the top and right edges of the cover.
Delve inside and things don’t get much better. The matte lay-ﬂat paper is very nice, but the dark, underexposed print quality affects every image, obliterating shadows and causing skin tones to appear sunburnt. Monochrome photos are murky and show a slight cyan cast, while our test pattern had signs of gradient banding.
The well-designed manual design process is almost as convenient. Once ordered, the book arrived in a joint fastest time of four working days.
In Standard Landscape size, the book is close to a 3:2 ratio, and you can spec up to a whopping 252 pages. The 170gsm Standard Silk Matte paper is relatively thin and not particularly luxurious, though: we’d recommend stepping up to the 250gsm premium paper, as the price difference is negligible. It’s a pity there isn’t a lay-ﬂat option.
Print quality is very good, with excellent color and contrast, an attractive cover print, and neutral mono reproduction. Our tough test pattern is presented extremely well, although the outright print resolution isn’t quite as high as Bob’s. Skin tones could also be warmer.