Best Photo Printing Service for High Quality & Affordable Prints
This is a guide to the best online photo printing services for high-quality prints of your most cherished memories.
There are plenty of printing services to choose from here in 2021, but only a handful produce sharp results with accurate colors.
If you’re printing a lot of photos or canvas prints, you’ll need a service that’s affordable too!
We’ve researched the options that offer the best balance of image quality to affordability, perfect for beginners and hobbyist photographers.
(If you’re a professional, it’s likely you already have your own large format printer or use a specialist photo lab.)
Whichever photo printing service you choose, just make sure you get your digital photos made ‘non-digital!’
Being able to hold a print in your hands is priceless, and gifting photo books or other photo products is a wonderful feeling too.
So let’s dive into the recommendations.
Table of Contents
Best Photo Printing Services in 2021
1. Printique (ex Adorama Pix)
- Special service for business (bulk orders)
- Special services for professional photographers
- Multiple paper choices (all archival)
- Wide variety of formats and products
- Free unlimited storage
- Only ships to the US and Canada
- Free shipping is not available for all products nor all destinations
This online photo printing service is part of Adorama, so you have a professional and reliable company behind it that’s been offering printing services for over 20 years.
With an average vote on Trustpilot of 4.6/5, it has 87% of the reviews qualified as excellent and 6% of them as great.
The cost for standard size photo prints start at US$0.31 with four types of papers to choose from – other papers such as metallic or fine art can increase the price up to $10.99.
You can upload photos stored on your camera and phone, or directly from online platforms such as Instagram or Google Photos, making ordering photo prints and canvases from Printique simple and fast.
To create books and albums, you can use their intuitive templates or upload a PDF with your design. The costs range from US$9.99 for a 20-page mini book up to a starting price of $146.79 for a leather album.
There’s also the option to print cards, calendars and presents, and you can also have your prints framed or mounted.
If you’re a professional with special printing needs and a large number of orders, you can pay a membership plan to access free rush processing, 50% off samples, and other perks.
The production time ranges from 3 to 21 days depending on the product (standard size photo prints have a 5-day turnaround).
A rush process is available, and they have four shipping options. Note that they only ship to the US and Canada, though.
Printique is our choice of best photo printing service of the year, despite fierce competition from other companies.
It’s great for both amateur and professional photographers, with great print quality of regular and canvas prints, as well as multiple print sizes and services for power-users.
- Low prices
- International Shipping
- Wide variety of products
- In-store pickup available throughout the US
- Not fine-art quality
- No free shipping
Snapfish is one of the most popular online printing services because of its low prices. They even offer a Lowest Price Guarantee where they refund your purchase if a competitor has the same product cheaper than they do.
(Just keep in mind this policy has many restrictions and only applies to eight of their photo print services and products.)
Standard size photo prints start from US$0.09. However, the low price doesn’t mean the prints are low quality – Snapfish is rated with 4.5/5 on Trustpilot, with 79% of the reviews qualifying it as excellent and 10% as great.
There are four shipping options with this online photo printing service, and international shipping is available.
If you’re based in the US, you can avoid the shipping cost by picking up your order in different locations such as Walgreens Photo and Walmart Photo.
The array of products on offer from Snapfish remarkable, and you can print anything from wallet size photos to Christmas ornaments.
That said, the normal prints don’t have many choices in paper and material – you can only choose between glossy or matte photo prints.
You can upload your photos from storage or directly from social media like Facebook and Instagram. The easiest way is to download the Snapfish app to manage your order and easily create photo books and personalized gifts.
Snapfish is one of the tip online photo printing services available in 2021 and continues to be enormously popular with amateur photographers wanting to order affordable photo prints as simply as possible.
3. Amazon Prints
- Good variety of products
- Low cost
- Connected with Amazon Photos
- Free delivery with Amazon Prime
- Available only for US customers
- Credit card is the only accepted method of payment
Amazon Prints are only available in the US, although this will probably change in the future – hopefully, the photo lab service will become available to all countries where Amazon is located.
The prices are very competitive. For example, a standard size print starts at $0.15 with a processing time of three to five days. You can choose from three delivery options, and there’s free shipping if you have an Amazon Prime membership.
Although Amazon’s photo service doesn’t offer the widest variety of products on the market, it still carries all of the most popular choices, such as multiple print sizes and formats, home decor and coffee mugs.
To print your images, they need to be in Amazon Photos, which is a 5GB cloud storage service that Amazon offers for free. With it, you can share your images in private groups or use them as a screensaver for an Echo device or a Fire TV.
You can also increase the storage space with plans starting at just $1.99/mo, making it a great option as an online photo storage solution.
The quality of printing and color accuracy is fairly good, although not enough for fine art or professional purposes. Print quality is what you’d expect for this price, with images looking vibrant and sharp, but a way off the premium online photo printing services.
The main appeal of Amazon Prints is convenience – many people already have an account on Amazon for other services, so you don’t have to create more accounts and manage your data elsewhere.
If you already have a lot of images stored in Amazon Photos, using their online printing service is a no-brainer.
4. Artifact Uprising
- Fast processing time
- International shipping
- High-quality products
- No free shipping
- Higher than average prices
While the photo printing is good and varied, I feel like the real perk of this small company is all the related products.
Artifact Uprising offers a huge number of gorgeous-looking photo books and album choices – plus design services so you can have an expert create the album with your vision.
The gifts are categorized by theme and occasion, which makes them easier to navigate.
For example, there’s a wedding section with everything you need (print-wise) to organize your wedding – from save-the-date notes to the table numbers.
The standard size photo prints are not sold individually. Instead, you’ll find them as sets starting from US$9 and ranging up to US$60 according to the size and amount of pictures.
You can’t see the final price unless you log in and simulate the purchase, which can be a turn-off, but with regular use, you quickly get an idea of what the final cost will be.
The interface to upload images and design your products is very straightforward. It’s easy to use but it doesn’t give much leeway to your creativity – a compromise made in exchange for an elegant and minimal design that’s curated in every detail.
Shotkit’s founder Mark has ordered several photo books from Artifact in the past, and loves the look and feel of them – more of an artisinal-style product than some of the budget online photo printing services out there.
They’re definitely pricier than alternatives, and shipping outside the US quickly adds up, but you’re left with high quality prints with great color accuracy from a photo lab you can trust.
- International shipping
- Easy to use, customizable templates
- Good quality
- Fast turnover
- No standard size prints
- No free shipping
Mixbook offers a wide variety of prints and products, although you won’t find the normal standard size print. Single prints are available in larger sizes or different materials (such as metallic print and canvas print).
Other products include photo books, calendars, cards and magnets. To create them, you’ll find many easy-to-use and widely customizable templates to make the process fun and creative.
The image quality and customer services of Mixbook are highly ranked in Trustpilot with a vote of 4.8/5, where 84% qualify it as excellent and 10% as great.
Mixbook offers four shipping options worldwide – free shipping is not available by default, although you might run into promo codes every now and then to get a discount and/or free shipping.
The processing time is three or four days depending on the product. If you’re a business, you can benefit from their bulk order prices and policies – you just have to fill a bulk discount request form.
Mixbook regularly runs promotions on its site (see the image above, for example), making them one of the more affordable online photo printing services available to photographers in 2021.
- Affordable prices
- Wide variety
- Free shipping on orders $35+
- Upscale to boutique packaging available
- Basic photo retouching is available
- Only ships in the US
One of the things that differentiates Mpix from lesser online photo printing services is the high quality and care they take with their photo prints.
Mpix offers a wide variety of photographic products, including some gift ideas that are not as easy to find with its competitors, such as dog tags or statuettes.
Speaking of gifts, you can upscale your order to boutique packaging to send any of the products as a present to your loved ones or delivered as a final product to your customers.
Amongst the services offered by Mpix, you’ll also find some basic photo-retouching such as teeth whitening, red-eye reduction, skin retouching, color correction etc.
There are also custom framing options or the possibility to mount and print on canvas, which they advertise as being “hand made in the heartland” – it’s nice to see online photo printing services employing locally.
The Mpix interface is very intuitive and easy to use. You can upload photos from your computer or online platforms such as Facebook.
It has a quick turnaround, and you can choose from four delivery options with the high-quality prints arriving on your doorstep ready to be added to albums or framed yourself.
- Free unlimited storage
- International shipping
- Wide variety of products
- 1-hour pick up available for 4×6” prints
- No free shipping
- Low rank in Trustpilot
One of the perks of Shutterfly is that you have free unlimited storage – they offer to keep your photos and never-ever delete them!
The prices are very competitive: a standard size print starts at US$.18. On the downside, there aren’t that many papers to choose from. You can order canvas, metal and wood prints, though.
Shutterfly does offer much more than prints, and the photographic products are full of choices – from the traditional coffee mug to a more unique wind chime.
If you want to give one of these personalized products to all of your clients or the guests at your wedding, you can benefit from bulk-order deals.
To save some money on your prints, you can also buy in bulk ahead of time and make your prints throughout the year.
Shutterfly delivers worldwide and has different shipping options. In the US, it’s also possible to order standard size prints for 1-hour store pick up!
Even though they have a 100% happiness guarantee, the ranking in Trustpilot is 3/5, where only 67% of people qualify it as excellent and 17% as great.
(Maybe it’d be best to order a small quantity of prints first to see how the service is for you, before placing any bulk orders.)
While not as widely trusted as the other online photo printing services recommended in this article, Shutterfly does often have deals and coupons that might well make it worth it.
How to Choose the Best Photo Printing Service
Despite the fact that we’ve narrowed down your choices, it may still be a tough decision when choosing the best online photo printing service for your needs.
If this is your first time ordering prints or photo products, these 10 tips will help you make the right decision.
1. Review the print sizes
We may not be conscious of it while looking at photos on our computers or phones, but they all have a specific size. To maintain the best picture quality when you print them, you shouldn’t go over that size.
The printing resolution required in most places is 300 dpi – so, for a standard size print (4×6 inches), you should multiply 300×4 = 1200 for the short side and 300×6 = 1800 to calculate the long side.
This means that ideally, your digital photo should be at least 1200 x 1800 pixels to print properly in 4×6 inches.
Most online printing services have a guide with the minimum requirement in size and resolution to ensure good results – make sure you check them before placing your order.
Pro Tip: If your photos aren’t big enough to be printed (you might see a ‘low resolution’ warning when building larger photo books), you can use this software to create a high-quality enlargement.
2. Look for the right format
Back in the days of film photography, frames came in standard sizes. Nowadays, a full-frame is equivalent to a 35mm film frame, but any other cropped format can be different from camera to camera – not to mention the different sensor sizes on each phone.
As a result, the standard sizes of printing papers won’t always fit your photo. Make sure you choose the closest size to your image format – different photo printing services offer a larger or smaller amount of choices.
From the photo printing services listed in this article, Mpix has the largest amount of size formats, followed by Printique and Shutterfly. Others don’t have so many options. For example, Amazon Prints offers only four.
If you can’t match the printing size perfectly, you’ll have to choose between filling the paper or leaving white edges.
Keep in mind that filling the paper with the image means that you are enlarging it, so the quality might vary, and some edges will be cut off.
3. Check shipping limitations
Before you spend your time creating accounts or designing an elaborate photo book, make sure the online printing service you choose delivers in your area.
From the ones listed here, Shutterfly, Mixbook, Artifact Uprising and Snapfish have international shipping. Printique offers delivery in the US and Canada, but free shipping is not available to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands or Canada.
Mpix has only US delivery with four shipping options. However, orders sent to PO boxes, APO/FPO addresses, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands can only be done with Economy or Standard shipping.
Most of the websites also offer multiple shipping options. Review the choices to see if they fit your needs in terms of time and cost.
4. Review the final price before deciding
Often you’ll see super low prices per print or even deals that offer ‘x’ amount of free prints per month. While this is certainly appealing, you should consider other pricing factors before deciding.
For example, sometimes the shipping cost is so high that paying the prints a bit higher on a website with free shipping is more convenient.
Other times, you need to have a minimum amount of prints to make an order – like Artifact Uprising, where you can only buy prints in three different sets: 10, 25 or 50. If you only want 5 prints, for example, it will ultimately be more expensive.
5. Consider the processing time
This is always a good practice, but especially if you need your order in a hurry. It’s easy to just check for the delivery time and even pay extra for an overnight delivery disregarding the processing time.
Photo printing services don’t sell products that are already in stock like any e-commerce business – they need to process your images and print them. This may take more or less time according to the type of print that you’re buying.
Some printers offer the chance to rush your order at a higher price. For example, with Printique, you can choose the rush processing option at checkout for an extra cost or for free if you have a pro membership.
So, before placing an order for prints, review the processing time on top of the delivery time. If you’re going to need rush processing, check with the photo lab if it’s possible and how much it costs.
6. Check the upload methods and requirements
This is another important issue: what you can upload and from where. Most photo printing services support JPEG files. However, this format is a compressed file, and most professionals prefer to print their TIFF files.
Check which formats are supported before making your decision. From our list of online photo printing services, only Printique supports TIFF files at the moment. Snapfish and Artifact Uprising support JPEG and PNG, Mixbook supports PNG, JPEG and HEIC, while Mpix and Amazon support only JPEG.
You should also consider the color profile. For example, Amazon supports 8-bit RGB and sRGB, while Mpix only supports RGB.
Most of the time, your images will already be in RGB, but it’s something to keep an eye on if you’re having problems uploading your images.
Another important thing is the sources from where you can upload the photos. For example, if you want to print the photos from your Facebook page, can you do it directly or do you have to download them to your phone/computer and upload them from there?
Needless to say that it’s more practical to use photo printing services that allow you to upload your photos from online and social platforms, cloud storage and your devices.
Some printing sites have their own apps to make the upload easier for you – that’s also something you might want to consider.
7. Review the designing possibilities
This one applies mostly if you’re ordering photo books – maybe to some photo gifts such as greeting cards or calendars. In general, you should look for an interface that’s easy to use.
As for the flexibility to customize the template, it’s a personal preference. For some people, it’s important to have the creative freedom to add text, stickers, etc.
If this is your case, Mixbook, Shutterfly and Printique have many fully customizable templates and a wide library of graphic content.
Other people prefer to have a well-designed template that doesn’t require much from them – this ensures constant quality and elegance. If this is your preference, then you’ll find websites like Artifact Uprising more pleasing.
8. Search for specific reviews – whenever possible
It’s good to know the overall performance of photo printing services, to see if they’re reliable, whether they have good customer service, etc. However, the quality might vary across their different products.
A place that delivers great prints and photo books might use low-quality magnets, for example. So, you should look for reviews from people who bought products similar to the ones you’re buying.
9. Check for the payment methods
Not everyone has a credit card or likes sharing their details on every website – that’s where services such as PayPal come in.
Not every photo printing service accepts the same payment methods, and finding out from the beginning can save you a lot of time. If they don’t accept your preferred method, then what’s the point in opening an account and designing a book, right?
- Printique accepts credit cards, PayPal and Printique credits.
- Snapfish accepts all credit cards and PayPal.
- Artifact Uprising accepts credit cards, debit cards and pre-paid cards.
- Mixbook accepts only credit cards.
- Mpix accepts credit cards – except for American Express – and PayPal.
- Shutterfly accepts credit cards, PayPal, gift cards and Apple Pay if you purchase from the app on an iPhone.
Oddly enough, Amazon only accepts credit cards. Other products can be purchased with Amazon gift cards, Amazon credit, and even checking accounts – for their printing services, all those other choices aren’t on the table.
It probably isn’t an issue for most people, as you might already have a credit card linked to your account. Still, they could improve this.
10. Ask for bulk order benefits
This, of course, only applies if you’re going to buy many books or products – perhaps because you’re a professional, you have a business, or maybe you want to give them as souvenirs at a party.
Some photo printing services offer special prices or different deals when you’re buying in bulk. In some cases, such as Printique, you need to have a membership for this to apply. Others, such as Mixbook, offer bulk benefits – but you have to fill in a request.
So, if you’re buying in bulk, it’s better to enquire in advance if they can offer you a better deal than buying single products.
Where Do Professional Photographers Print Their Photos?
If you like to sell prints or earn a living via photography, we recommend using a professional print lab that offers higher image quality than the online photo printing services listed in this guide.
The options here are great for most people, but professionals require the ultimate color accuracy, sharpness, ink longevity, color correction services and a range of quality paper options.
While finding something affordable for pros is still important, the final print quality is the number one factor when choosing photo print services.
Some professional photographers choose to print their photos at home, but this means a large upfront expense (high-quality photo printers aren’t cheap!), not to mention high paper and ink costs, and the complications involved with choosing a printer, setting it up, calibrating your monitor, testing photo paper, etc.
The cost of printing at home will vary highly depending on the printer you use and the paper stock, but in the long run, printing at home can save you money – this is assuming you’re actually selling your prints, of course.
As for the best online photo printing service for professional photographers, there are a number of great options here in 2021.
We recommend selecting a print lab that’s near you (so shipping costs are minimised) and testing the photo print quality before ordering anything for your clients.
Here’s a selection of options:
- Millers Lab – Columbia and Pittsburgh.
- WhiteWall – New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Vienna, Zurich, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Cologne, and Stuttgart. You can also find their services in selected Leica stores.
- Pixel Perfect – Sydney.
- Momento Pro – Sydney.
- Custom Photo (Australia) – East Rockingham, WA.
- Opus (Canada) – Coquitlam, Vancouver, Granville Island, Kelowna, Langley, and Victoria.
- The Artists Print Room – Shropshire, UK.
- Desert Fine Art Printing – Southern California.
- Lumiere Editions – Silver City NM.
I hope this guide gave you everything you need to search and use online photo printing services with confidence.
Remember – if you can’t justify printing all your favourite photos for whatever reason, the next best thing is to use a digital photo frame to display them.
Whatever the case, make sure you display your images in some way to properly enjoy them!
If you have any other questions or you want to weigh in on the pros and cons of different services, please do so in the comments section.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.