I’ve seen the ads for so-called “metal prints” on lots of sites, and I’ve always thought, “Why?”. And then a woman on one of the astronomy groups showed what she’s doing with them — basically noting that they are “ultra thin”, she can use the adhesive hangers, get rounded corners, and they don’t stick out from the walls.
She’s hanging her astro photos in high traffic areas and they almost sit flush to the wall. Plus no frames to buy or put them in. Hmm…maybe that’s worth considering, see if I like them.
It’s the era of Covid, so everyone is advocating buying local, whereas for photo books, I’ve pretty much stuck with Shutterfly. The prices for these prints is not cheap, so there’s definitely going to be a quality factor bisecting the price factor. Let’s see what’s out there somewhere around the 8×10 size.
PosterJack.ca ~ $37
Like almost all online sites, their initial prices go one of two ways. Often, if you “join”, you get initial discounts. Which are “okay” level discounts, but not exceptional usually. 15-20% is the norm. But if you make an order, you start getting regular offers in your email, and Shutterfly often runs offers of 40-50% plus free shipping. Anything else seems like a markup as opposed to a smaller discount, but I digress.
PosterJack lists an 8×8 HD metal print at $40 (all prices will be in Cdn unless otherwise noted). And just by hanging out on the site for 5 minutes, it gave me a pop-up for 20% off. So $32. Like I said, not exactly cheap when a paper one through a place like Costco can get that down to a few dollars and some simple frames through Michaels go on sale regularly. Call it $15 and I’m being generous. An 8×8″ Classic White matte print will drop it to $27. They also have a Classic Silver, and with the discount, it would bring it down to about the same price as the Classic White’s existing discount, so $27.
Shipping looks like $10 now, and they’re 100% Canadian. Well, Torontonian, but close enough. 😉
They have a deal right now on 8×8″ for $10. Great price, and shipping would be $15 for the first item, free after that in the same order. They’re not Canadian, even though they have a Canadian domain, everything is shipped from the US. Worth a consideration.
Vistaprint.ca ~$22 (foam)
They actually don’t have metal prints, but they do have foam board. It too is light and would be fairly flush to the wall without needing a frame. Not exactly what I’m looking for, but the price is decent (11×17″ runs $20 marked down to $14). And about $8 for shipping.
I know, you’re thinking, “Black’s is still in business?”. Yes, not the old Black’s with stores in malls per se, but you can order online for processing. It lists the HD gloss options for $34.99 with some sort of “promo” to be applied at checkout. Free shipping if you spend over $50, and the discount looks like up to 25%, so would likely cost you two prints to get it. But it is all Canadian. About $13 for shipping.
Canvasndecor.ca ~ $41
They have two options — HD Gloss and Brushed Aluminum. The woman who inspired me to consider this noted that on her prints, particularly her astrophotography prints, she finds anything except the gloss tends to dampen the colours too much, almost washing them out. And she doesn’t find too much “shine” on the gloss since they sit flush.
They’re based in London, Ontario, and so shipping is standard ground shipping costs from there. A 8×10″ portrait starts at $28.99, but that is without any discounts applied. With the order, you can get a free 8×8″ extra metal print though, so that’s attractive. Often places like Shutterfly will include a free option where they’ll print a new product, you pay the shipping, and you get to try it out with obviously the company hoping you’ll buy more in the future. The front page suggests they have free metal prints which LOOKED like a similar offer, but no, it’s as an add-on to an order. Probably about $13 for shipping.
PhotobookCanada.ca ~$25-$37 (cheaper with a membership)
PBC is a lot closer to the standard offerings when ordering from pure photo sites. Their list price for an 8×8″ is a whopping $54.99, but oh look, there’s a 45% off coupon to bring it down to $30, everyone else’s standard price. And you can get another 10% off if you’re a special member i.e down to about $25 but you also get free shipping (their special memberships are like Amazon Prime memberships). And if you act now, operators are standing by, for a limited time blah blah blah. Not quite, but it feels like that using some of these sites. Of course, if I was planning to print a whole bunch of photos, free shipping is a nice perk to offset the membership upgrade. Otherwise, an 8×8″ print is about $12-13 to ship (standard).
However, as an aside, one of the benefits of going with a true photo printing site is that they know you may have something in mind other than a standard 1 print/1 image layout. So PBC has a BUNCH of layouts, all designed to help you do layouts quickly and easily. So “gifts for Mom” are an obvious popular choice, and they have layouts for 2-5 prints that can be arranged in a perfectly aligned collage with some writing over it saluting Moms. Or just nice layouts without any text.
An 8×8″ is $17.72, which seems easy enough, and then your world explodes. They have options for single prints, wall displays, collages, split designs, mosaics, lyrics, digital painting, something called a bus roll, or putting quotes on metal.
The single print is what you expect. Wall displays? They have 24 different layouts so you can choose 3-10 pieces that after printing will all align properly into say a rectangle on your wall and look like it is perfectly designed to do that. Because it is. Not cheap obviously, printing say 10 separate metal prints, but the only place I’ve seen it as an option.
The photo collages are just layouts for multiple images in the same print but they have decent options. Split metal are designed as panels that hang in parallel (quite common) but goes way beyond that with 2-8 layouts that come a lot closer to the “wall display” layouts, but slightly different, and generally designed for a single image shared over all the pieces.The photo mosaic also works with a single image and has up to 21 “tiles” in various layouts (3×7, 4×5, etc.).
For the lyrics on metal, it is touted mostly as a “first year anniversary” gift (why? I don’t know, first year is “paper” but sure). The examples are some sort of sheet music default or a separate image (like a wedding photo) and then printing the lyrics to the first dance song over top. Awwww…okay, it’s not a completely stupid idea, and if you’re a guy looking for a “sweet” gift, sure.
Digital painting was a weird title, and what it actually does is offer you a bunch of standard filters you see in a lot of picture processing apps. You can take a “real” photo and make it an oil painting; or apply a charcoal filter to it to make it look like a charcoal drawing; or some sort of “knife” drawing; or a comic character. Now, just to be clear, YOU aren’t doing it, they are. You submit the photo, they work their techno magic and creativity. It’s a customized work of art, presumably. Are they likely using the same techniques of PhotoShop? You make the call!
I had no idea what a “bus roll” is, and it wasn’t until I saw the templates that I saw what they mean. On old buses, there literally was a bunch of destinations printed one above the other — so the driver would “roll” through the list changing the sign. Most of that has gone digital now, of course. This is similar, but the default is basically five lines of text, fully justified, above each other. Often you see this with signs that people have in bars, family rooms. “Excuse the mess, my children are making memories” or their template “This family runs on LOVE, laughter, and strong coffee”. For the first one, memories is almost always the last line and it’s the largest font going the full width of the image; for the second, LOVE is the word that stands out. Often the image has slightly different fonts, not just sizes, or some words are italicized. Some are even custom tweaked within a line. This isn’t that fancy for the default, but some of the templates are decent and add a LOT more options / lines to work with. Cool options. I have no idea what I’d use it for, but a cool option. Maybe a list of the planets with pictures of them around it? I could see someone using it to make a list of all of someone’s grandchildren.
The last option, quotes on metal, is pretty straightforward. It takes the previous “limitations” and throws them out the window. You upload a background image, pick your size, enter text, change fonts, etc. I was actually quite disappointed with it because there are no sample templates. Such an obvious place where people could benefit from some assistance in design. I know, I have done a lot of quote memes, and finding the right format / layout can be challenging if you want the combo to have impact.
So I said it was the last option, but I was wrong. While they don’t list it on the first page of metal prints, when you’re in the tool, you also get a WORD ART option. If you don’t remember what those are, it’s where you insert a whole bunch of words and the computer generates a picture with those words turned every which way and adjusted for size so that when you’re done, it looks like a jumble. Often the words are all about a single theme, and you put that theme in much bigger prose. For the “image”, it is usually a simple shape. The tool here offers butterflies, diamonds, hearts, hexagons, home symbol, pentagon or round. It’s not the most sophisticated tool, but it will handle about 10 lines up to 20 characterr each line.
I have little use for most of the options, but nice to know they exist. Assume $13 or so for shipping on a basic order.
PrintPartner.ca ~ $41-$52
An 8×8″ runs $39 and the page says “If you order, we’ll give you 30% off next time”, standard practice. So let’s call it $28 for future orders. They have matte or gloss. Nice, clean, simple. Standard shipping costs.
PhotoHop.ca – $58
OMG, there’s a photo printing place that has a frog as a logo? And it’s Canadian. As a PolyWogg, I have to take that as a sign, right?????
They have brushed or white aluminum (as well as plexiglass, interesting). Put in all my options, $40. $18 for shipping. Ouch. That is one expensive frog theme.
Henry’s.ca – $?
I saw that they had ordering options, but it isn’t something I would normally choose with Henry’s. Hardware yes, beyond that? Not sure. Their price list was a bit odd. They listed aluminum “panels” and metallic paper. Hmm.
Loblaws.ca – $?
Loblaws has a photo processing studio, as does places like Shoppers Drug Mart (and shocker, even before Loblaws bought SDM, it was the SAME studio company behind the scenes). And they’re all closed for COVID apparently. Odd. Even for shipping and pickups?
Shutterfly.com ~ $49
I already mentioned that I use Shutterfly for my photobooks, and so I’m eligible for a range of regular promo codes. A friend who uses them won’t even consider ordering unless it’s 50% off, which is what she considers their REAL normal price. I’m not QUITE that harsh, but I tend to agree.
As I mentioned with PhotoBook Canada, going with a real photo site explodes the options. If I click on a simple 8″x10″, there are 51 different layouts I can choose from there, with multiple photos or multiple prints arranged on a wall to fit together. If I go with Glossy, it starts at $65 with an “up to” 40% code down to $48.74. Umm, yeah, probably no. 40% would drop it to $39, and even then…but it has free shipping right now, and it is good quality. Still no. Maybe if they have a metal print sale. They’ve eliminated brushed aluminum from their options right now too. Interesting.
I saved Costco for last because I’m likely to go with them. Most of the printing places aren’t going to vary widely in their metallic printing (at least according to some more knowledgeable reviews online), I don’t have big needs, and one of the huge costs is shipping. But I can pick up CostCo products locally. And I’m already a paid member. Not quite a fair comparison, I know.
Their smallest size is 11×14″, a bit bigger potentially than I might want as a default, but even then, the price is only $29. Yeah, basically the same printing price as most of the other places but for a larger print and no shipping cost to add on.
They have 9 different layouts, including collages and some with some extra formatting over top (although usually you can remove that at the design stage).
It’s not as fancy as some of the other options, but it looks decent enough at an okay price, and free shipping. I need to pick a couple of astro photos to work with, and then I might try a couple of the above sites. Stay tuned!