Good photo book printer for image quality

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Nearly A Moose
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Nearly A Moose » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:39 pm

Calling all photographer BHs. I’m looking for recommendations for a good photo book printing service to use for higher quality photo books. I take around 3-4,000 digital photos a year, and the reality is they don’t get seen much on my computer. I’ve decided to start creating an annual photo book for our family. I read some general interest reviews and tried using Motif, a plug-in for the Apple photo software. It’s apparently the same company that did the Apple branded photo books that are now being discontinued. I just received my first book today, and I was ... underwhelmed. Photo quality seemed very poor - grainy, lots of detail seemingly lost. It felt like I had tried to use a ten year old color printer to DIY. I can understand why a cropped iPhone photo might look grainy, but not a full frame photo shot using my Nikon D3300 (I’ve done some very large prints from it that are in a different league). It was $144 for 90 pages. So I’m looking for recommendations from serious and semi serious photographers.

My primary interest is print quality- I’d love for these to become our family albums that get cherished over the years. Based on print photo experience, I don’t think Snapfish and like competitors are the right service for this. I use Lightroom CC Classic to manage my photo collection, so I’m considering trying their built in Blurb tie in under the “book” module. I’ve read some poor reviews of the Blurb Bookify consumer product but it seems this might be a different product? Any experience?

Ive also had good experiences with Nation’s Photo Lab for prints, so I’m considering them, although I understand you have to work somewhat carefully into get pages sized right if you use Lightroom to export a pdf for printing at a third party. Experiences?

My primary criteria is print quality. If there is an amazing layout program (Motif had some quirks but also some useful features in the layout tools), that’s a plus, but I have access to decent functionality through Lightroom and more in photoshop, so that’s not essential. I don’t care about additional graphics and embellishments, which seems to be one of the big selling points for a lot of consumer focused photo book services.

Any experience with the providers above, or any other suggestions?
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

HereToLearn
Posts: 200
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2018 5:53 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by HereToLearn » Fri Sep 07, 2018 10:48 pm

I have not found a source beyond the traditional consumer options. I started using My Publisher 13 years ago. Their print quality improved over time, as I migrated from the Nikon D70 to 90 to 600. Their leather and linen covers with or without the front window cut out were always high quality. Unfortunately, My Publisher closed more than a year ago, and I have not printed a book since.

I have also used Shutterfly and Snapfish but their product seemed a bit more whimsical. Shutterfly is trying to occupy the space My Publisher abandoned, introducing higher end finishes. They are constantly running promotions, so you may want to try ordering a book for grandparents as a gift, just to see the finished product.

I have never tried Costco's photo books, but I am very happy with Costco's print quality.

Hopefully someone else will have more useful suggestions. Good luck!

Freefun
Posts: 381
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:55 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Freefun » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:48 am

I like Blurb.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

LifeIsGood
Posts: 683
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 8:43 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by LifeIsGood » Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:43 am

I’ve been using Adoramapix for quite a few years and really like them.

Lay flat books
Nice quality thick paper
Easy web based design interface
Reasonable prices
Good customer service

User avatar
tuningfork
Posts: 399
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:30 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by tuningfork » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:49 am

+1 for Blurb. I use the Photo Book module in Lightroom and submit directly to Blurb. Print quality is excellent.

Marylander1
Posts: 150
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:18 pm
Location: Baltimore & DC

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Marylander1 » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:12 am

Years ago, I used Shutterfly, but wasn't impressed by their quality: their printing resolution but also they paper and binding. I searched for a higher quality printer, and found MPix. Their focus has always been photographers who care most about quality. I've used them ever since.

I use Photoshop to lay out the pages, and know plenty about image resolution. Some photo book printers don't even provide recommended resolution for their printing process, a clear warning they don't care about photo quality.

The paper and printing at MPix feel and look better than other photo books, and several people have told me they switched after seeing our books. https://www.mpix.com/

Marylander1
Last edited by Marylander1 on Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
GoldStar
Posts: 601
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 10:59 am

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by GoldStar » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:33 am

tuningfork wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:49 am
+1 for Blurb. I use the Photo Book module in Lightroom and submit directly to Blurb. Print quality is excellent.
+2
OP: since you are a lightroom user you should try Blurb - you can do all your work right in lightroom and just upload. With many other sites you have to switch between lightroom and their web'based or client based tools. Lightroom/Blurb integration is awesome. Every few weeks they have 35 or 40% off sales so do all your work when you want then wait for the sale price to print.
I can't comment on whether other sites might have better quality. I don't know what Blurb bookify is - I have just printed normal glossy finish photo books with them - typically 10×10 size.

User avatar
tuningfork
Posts: 399
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:30 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by tuningfork » Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:03 am

Marylander1 wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:12 am
The paper and printing at MPix feel and look better than other photo books, and several people have told me they switched after seeing our books. https://www.mpix.com/
Before I started using Blurb I used Mpix for several photo books. One book arrived with streaks across the pages. To their credit, they quickly reprinted and overnighted the replacement book, but such an obvious defect should not have passed their quality control. Otherwise the books from Mpix were fine, but I'm happy with Blurb now and will stay with them as long as their quality remains high.
GoldStar wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:33 am
OP: since you are a lightroom user you should try Blurb - you can do all your work right in lightroom and just upload. With many other sites you have to switch between lightroom and their web'based or client based tools. Lightroom/Blurb integration is awesome.
The best part of the Lightroom/Blurb integration is that while you are laying out your book in Lightroom, you can continue to edit the photos. For example, you might decide two photos on the same page should have similar color treatment, so go to the Develop module and adjust the color, and the change is immediately reflected in the book. With other services, you would have to export a new JPG and upload it to replace the previous photo.

User avatar
oldcomputerguy
Posts: 3453
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:50 am
Location: In the middle of five acres of woods

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:10 am

DW just put together a Shutterfly book for the pics from our 40th anniversary beach trip, it's IMHO pretty good.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

User avatar
MN-Investor
Posts: 277
Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 9:04 am
Location: Twin Cities

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by MN-Investor » Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:36 am

For what it's worth, Wirecutter's review of photo book services.
The key to success - Save early, save often, invest well.

Nearly A Moose
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Nearly A Moose » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:34 pm

Thanks, all. Sounds like I sure give Blurb a try. I'll start with something small to see how it goes.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

Nearly A Moose
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Nearly A Moose » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:35 pm

MN-Investor wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:36 am
For what it's worth, Wirecutter's review of photo book services.
Yes, that's what actually led me to Motif in the first place. I generally like Wirecutter and check their recommendations, but I feel like a quarter of the time they really miss the Mark, at least for me.
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

Nearly A Moose
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Nearly A Moose » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:36 pm

tuningfork wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:03 am
Marylander1 wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:12 am
The paper and printing at MPix feel and look better than other photo books, and several people have told me they switched after seeing our books. https://www.mpix.com/
Before I started using Blurb I used Mpix for several photo books. One book arrived with streaks across the pages. To their credit, they quickly reprinted and overnighted the replacement book, but such an obvious defect should not have passed their quality control. Otherwise the books from Mpix were fine, but I'm happy with Blurb now and will stay with them as long as their quality remains high.
GoldStar wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:33 am
OP: since you are a lightroom user you should try Blurb - you can do all your work right in lightroom and just upload. With many other sites you have to switch between lightroom and their web'based or client based tools. Lightroom/Blurb integration is awesome.
The best part of the Lightroom/Blurb integration is that while you are laying out your book in Lightroom, you can continue to edit the photos. For example, you might decide two photos on the same page should have similar color treatment, so go to the Develop module and adjust the color, and the change is immediately reflected in the book. With other services, you would have to export a new JPG and upload it to replace the previous photo.
Thanks. Do you have a suggested paper for something like this?
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

PugetSoundguy
Posts: 203
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:46 pm
Location: Seattle

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by PugetSoundguy » Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:12 pm

LifeIsGood wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 1:43 am
I’ve been using Adoramapix for quite a few years and really like them.

Lay flat books
Nice quality thick paper
Easy web based design interface
Reasonable prices
Good customer service
Another vote for Adoramapix. Great results over the years. They are real pros.

User avatar
DaftInvestor
Posts: 4064
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:11 am

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by DaftInvestor » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:35 am

Nearly A Moose wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:36 pm
tuningfork wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:03 am
Marylander1 wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:12 am
The paper and printing at MPix feel and look better than other photo books, and several people have told me they switched after seeing our books. https://www.mpix.com/
Before I started using Blurb I used Mpix for several photo books. One book arrived with streaks across the pages. To their credit, they quickly reprinted and overnighted the replacement book, but such an obvious defect should not have passed their quality control. Otherwise the books from Mpix were fine, but I'm happy with Blurb now and will stay with them as long as their quality remains high.
GoldStar wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 8:33 am
OP: since you are a lightroom user you should try Blurb - you can do all your work right in lightroom and just upload. With many other sites you have to switch between lightroom and their web'based or client based tools. Lightroom/Blurb integration is awesome.
The best part of the Lightroom/Blurb integration is that while you are laying out your book in Lightroom, you can continue to edit the photos. For example, you might decide two photos on the same page should have similar color treatment, so go to the Develop module and adjust the color, and the change is immediately reflected in the book. With other services, you would have to export a new JPG and upload it to replace the previous photo.
Thanks. Do you have a suggested paper for something like this?
I've always gone with Premium Lustre wtih 10x8 in books on Blurb. The integration is nice - allows you to make adjustments to photos while working in the book and also quickly add additional photos you may have not initially selected. If you compare this to having to export to jpegs, and then upload to some other website, before even getting started with a book - its night and day on how much better the workflow is.

User avatar
midareff
Posts: 5800
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:43 am
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by midareff » Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:45 am

Just a thought... do the book in Lightroom as others suggested and then burn it to CD and distribute that. I suspect the CD will go unlooked at as much as the book.

User avatar
tuningfork
Posts: 399
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:30 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by tuningfork » Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:20 am

DaftInvestor wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:35 am
Nearly A Moose wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:36 pm
Thanks. Do you have a suggested paper for something like this?
I've always gone with Premium Lustre wtih 10x8 in books on Blurb.
That's exactly what I use too. I think it may be the default.

Mom 2 Groms
Posts: 39
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:57 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Mom 2 Groms » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:25 am

I use Picaboo. I like that I can choose all of the options for the photo books, and not have to use a predetermined layout or number of pages.
They also have a layflat option, and very thick pages. They monitor the resolution, so if you are zooming too much in a picture the site will tell you that the picture might be blurry.
I usually order the seamless lay-flat in 11x14. I have had a picture spread seamlessly across both pages and still look good.

I usually order a book every year with all of our family photos. Every once in a while, my kids love to pull the books out and go through them page by page. I was surprised by how much my kids were interested in these books.

David0518
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2018 8:53 am

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by David0518 » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:23 am

That's unfortunate your book from Motif came like that! Did you reach out to them about it?

I used Apple Photos a lot and I found Motif's extension a lot easier to work with. My book came out with no issues though, it looked good and pictures were great.

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3518
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by lthenderson » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:31 am

I use Lightroom and Shutterfly to create our books. I've never had any problems with the photo quality. If you like one of their dozens of premade templates, creating a book is extremely quick and easy. If you customize everything, it takes quite a bit longer but it pretty intuitive. Really the only snag I have had using them is if you have an odd picture size. You only get a choice to crop out part of the picture to make it work. I deal a lot with very old photographs that are odd sizes so I have to edit them in other software to add sidebars so that I can get the entire picture without cropping. But with modern picture sizes I don't have any problems.

Nowizard
Posts: 1593
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Nowizard » Tue Sep 11, 2018 9:23 am

Personally, a photo book completed for a granddaughter was fine from Shutterfly. As the son of a professional photographer, I would use a high quality printer when interested in precision. The Jack Robinson Gallery does wonderful work in Memphis, Tennessee.

http://robinsongallery.com/

Tim

User avatar
GoldStar
Posts: 601
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 10:59 am

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by GoldStar » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:10 pm

tuningfork wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 11:20 am
DaftInvestor wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 9:35 am
Nearly A Moose wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:36 pm
Thanks. Do you have a suggested paper for something like this?
I've always gone with Premium Lustre wtih 10x8 in books on Blurb.
That's exactly what I use too. I think it may be the default.
I do the same. The Premium Lustre is 100# paper. There is a 140# paper (Proline Pearl) option as well - I'd be highly interested if anyone has tried this paper what they thought of it as compared to the Premium Lustre. I'd also be interested if folks feel the "lay-flat" pages are worth the extra cost. I seem to be fine without them.
There was a 40% off sale that ended yesterday but another one will surely come soon.
Note that they recently updated the integration a bit more (so be sure to update your Lightroom Classic CC) - allowing you to resize the cells in all the templates - can come in handy.
When you make the purchase with Blurb do NOT add in the $5 PDF option - you can export the Book to PDF directly from Lightroom.
You you are building your book if you leave the last page as the default which is blank with a watermark that has "Designed using Lightroom and Blurb" or some such thing you get $5 off. If this page bothers you there is an option in Lightroom to remove it before you upload to Blurb.

User avatar
GoldStar
Posts: 601
Joined: Wed May 23, 2018 10:59 am

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by GoldStar » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:22 pm

Nearly A Moose wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:35 pm
MN-Investor wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:36 am
For what it's worth, Wirecutter's review of photo book services.
Yes, that's what actually led me to Motif in the first place. I generally like Wirecutter and check their recommendations, but I feel like a quarter of the time they really miss the Mark, at least for me.
Thanks for sharing this review. However, in my opinion it is a bit flawed for a Lightroom Classic CC user.
The article seems to favor Shutterfly do to their interface. If you are a lightroom user having to switch to shutterfly's interface (or anyone's interface) is a nuisance.
When the author talks about Blurb they give it bad marks for its interface. This is irrelevant to a Lightroom Classic CC User since you aren't using the Blurb interfaces they are talking about. Furthermore - the author talks about "plugins" for Lightroom. It is actually not a plugin but integrated right into Lightroom Classic CC (I looked at the date of the article thinking it may have been written a while ago - appears to have a recent date but some of the statements are definitely dated throughout).

In general - most of the reviews I've read seem to really base the majority of their rating on ease-of-interface which is unfortunate since it is irrelevant to me. I am concerned with quality of the prints but unless any quality is vastly superior to Blurb I don't see a reason to switch to a different interface and have to start importing photos from one place to another when I can do everything I need to do from within a single interface.

Dottie57
Posts: 4655
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:13 pm

Can you add text ne’er or around your pictures?

Nearly A Moose
Posts: 892
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:28 pm

Re: Good photo book printer for image quality

Post by Nearly A Moose » Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:52 pm

GoldStar wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:22 pm
Nearly A Moose wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:35 pm
MN-Investor wrote:
Sat Sep 08, 2018 10:36 am
For what it's worth, Wirecutter's review of photo book services.
Yes, that's what actually led me to Motif in the first place. I generally like Wirecutter and check their recommendations, but I feel like a quarter of the time they really miss the Mark, at least for me.
Thanks for sharing this review. However, in my opinion it is a bit flawed for a Lightroom Classic CC user.
The article seems to favor Shutterfly do to their interface. If you are a lightroom user having to switch to shutterfly's interface (or anyone's interface) is a nuisance.
When the author talks about Blurb they give it bad marks for its interface. This is irrelevant to a Lightroom Classic CC User since you aren't using the Blurb interfaces they are talking about. Furthermore - the author talks about "plugins" for Lightroom. It is actually not a plugin but integrated right into Lightroom Classic CC (I looked at the date of the article thinking it may have been written a while ago - appears to have a recent date but some of the statements are definitely dated throughout).

In general - most of the reviews I've read seem to really base the majority of their rating on ease-of-interface which is unfortunate since it is irrelevant to me. I am concerned with quality of the prints but unless any quality is vastly superior to Blurb I don't see a reason to switch to a different interface and have to start importing photos from one place to another when I can do everything I need to do from within a single interface.

Yeah, most of the reviews I've found seem to focus primarily on ease of use. I guess that reflects the target audience. I fear I know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to know all the good semi pro resources. Looking forward to trying out a small test book using Lightroom and Blurb. Maybe honeymoon photos...
Pardon typos, I'm probably using my fat thumbs on a tiny phone.

Post Reply