Review of the transaction through Zenfolio.com & print from Mpix.com
I host my site, photosew.us
, using zenfolio.com
. It’s been up for a little over a month now, and I’ve been enjoying creating my “gallery.” I don’t expect sales, nor do I expect to really do much with it except put my favorite images in it. It does also let me provide special client albums when I do little side projects and photo sessions with friends and family, so that is very fun. Feels official when I tell my friends and family to enter their “Client Access Code” lol.
What I wanted to do is review the entire process when ordering prints using a site hosted by Zenfolio. Mainly because I wanted to see what the user experience is like and to see the final prints from Mpix, which is the vendor used to do the prints. I can’t deny I really wanted to see some of my pictures on print as well.The ordering & transaction process
The process of selecting and ordering was very simple considering the options you have. You are not required to create an account, and the information requested is not overbearing.
When you select a photo to purchase, you are presented with a good number of options:
- Size (including suggested best fit for the image)
- Manual cropping & centering if you wish
- Type of paper (Color, Metallic, B&W)
- Lustre coating (UV protection)
- Color correction (Each image is adjusted by a person @ Mpix)
- Color conversion
Everything is handled though a very sleak UI that displays the preview image and cropping guides. You can also choose frames and mounting with a preview of the frame. Very neat. Once that’s done and added to cart, the rest of the process is fairly uneventful, which is really nice.
One thing to note, when you order, Color Correction and NON-Color Correction orders are processed separately, meaning you pay separate shipping. One improvement I wish they would make is to have details the items in the 2 shipments, because it took me awhile to find the “rogue” picture causing an extra shipment.
From an administrative perspective, I can set orders to be sent for processing automatically or manually approve each order that comes through. I can easily see the charges and fees taken by Zenfolio and the profit. Good if I ever get a customer I guess?Waiting for the prints
Processing was quick. It took 1 business day to ship. I ordered on Sunday, and my order was shipping Monday. This included a mix of prints, 5 - 16” x 24”, 3 - 4” x 6”, and 1 - 12” x 24”, on various papers.
I happen to choose next day because it was a very reasonable increase in price. Only $5 dollars more than the standard shipping rate. Pretty nice to see that.The packaging
Prints are handled through Mpix.com, which is a feature available with the “Premium” ($100/yr) & “Premium Business” ($250/yr) packages. Although ordered through Mpix.com, the actual packaged shipped listed the name as Photo Products and shipped from Pittsburg, KA. (There’s a Pittsburg in Kansas? Never knew that.)
Prints were packaged very carefully and included a sheet that included the names of the people @ Mpix who inspected and color corrected the photos. The boards used to reinforce the images had handwritten messages, which I think is very cool even if they were just order numbers and paper type.
The large print, 16” x 24” & 12” x 24”, photos were taped carefully to cardboard. The 3 metallic paper photos were taped into one bundle, and I did have to pull them apart, but I’m assuming that’s because the ink used won’t leak on to other images when placed together like that. Each photo also had a sheet of thin foam to protect it from the next cardboard backing.
The smaller prints were placed in a separate sealed cardboard package with photos in their own wax paper envelopes. You can clearly tell this was all hand packaged, as the envelopes were carefully folded to fit the photos, one was placed into another wax envelope.
I enjoyed opening the complete package and seeing the images one by one.The prints
Probably the most important aspect of this experience is the final print results. I tried to test multiple combinations of products so that I can get a fairly good feel of the type of quality of workmanship I can expect from Mpix.
- Metallic with Lustre coating
All of them had color correction. I will probably place another order in the future to compare one with and without the correction.
Before I go into detail about each paper type, I must say, these prints are much, much better than anything from Costco.Color Paper
Kodak Endura Professional paper is used again. Back says, “DO NOT COPY”.
The finish is a semi-gloss, matte finish, that really looks good. Details are very good. Paper feels like the standard weight for photo paper. Colors gradients shift very nicely.Metallic Paper
Kodak Endura Professional paper is used. Oddly, back does not say do not copy like the Color paper. I was really impressed with the colors. It just popped, just as described when ordering. You can clearly see the metallic when looking at whiter areas of the image. If you’ve seen car paint that has metallic pigments in it, that’s similar to what I see with this paper. It really gives the lighter colors a depth that’s hard to achieve with plain paper. The contrast between light and dark is much more evident on metallic paper. I love it...I’m not sure when I would not use metallic over plain paper in the future. Maybe on occasions when my print is sepia or a very mellow/desaturated image.B&W Paper
Has no branding on the back. There’s a different feel to this B&W. If you’ve ever seen black paper used by artists, that you scrape away the black to reveal the white, that’s the impression I get from this. Maybe this is what they mean when the description of the print indicates “archival qualities.” In fact, if I didn’t need this print, I might try and experiment to see if the ink comes off the same way that artists paper works. The edges of the photo show a small white border between the printed black and the real edge of the paper. Maybe it was the cut of the paper that caused it to show the very fine border. The gradient is very smooth.Things I’ve learned
You can see the images associated with this post for more details if you’re interested.
Prints are amazing. Seeing your image on a large print is a very gratifying experience. It’s like seeing your vision come to life beyond digital. I’m not quite sure how to describe the feeling other than being able to hold something...a materialization of what you captured.
A couple things left me still curious, and I want to try and compare this next:
- The same B&W image on color, metallic, and B&W paper.
- The same color image on color & metallic paper.
I also found out that an image that looks sharp on screen doesn’t always translate to sharp in print. I need to remember to really blow up the image on screen to determine if the sharpness will be adequate for large print. I was a little disappointed in my horse print because it clearly wasn’t as sharp as I thought.
Whether or not this hobby generates income for me in the future, I’m really enjoying this because it’s an extension of photography, which I know I love. I’m not sure how much more in depth I will go, maybe when the time comes that I need to look at prints more closely, I will. But for now, I’m just excited to have quality prints for the first time. The next step? Framing. :D
If you are interested in signing up for Zenfoilio, my referral code is D7D-PAB-EAZ.
Thanks for reading! Any thoughts or comments?
FULL DISCLAIMER: I am not getting paid or sponsored for writing this review.+Zenfolio +Mpix
Thank you Vickie, Eric, Ronda, and Frank @ Mpix :)