The taste test
We ordered six photos printed 8x10 inches, usually seven times over a two-month period from a dozen labs. Color correction was on (the default at Mpix).
Then we conducted more than 50 double-blind preference tests under varied lighting conditions with customers who ranged from soccer moms to pro photographers.
The many colors of Mpix
Our plan was to conduct the taste test among six labs, but in the case of Mpix the results varied so wildly we decided to choose 3 samples from their prints: the midpoint and two extremes.
That meant two labs got bumped from testing. Studying prints from McKenna, however, it's our belief they would have scored well in the taste test.
Prints from the pro labs didn't vary much between orders. We ordered under different customer and file names to foil their efforts to make prints from previous color corrections, but they stayed consistent.
The acid test
We sent a stream of reprints first through Mpix and later through Bay Photo.
Reprints for color are tough because it usually means the photographer missed the white balance or exposure on the originals and there are serious corrections to be made.
Our confidence in Bay Photo has grown to the point that we send most color correction work to them—thousands of prints—with (so far) no returns.
Given the test results, we're confident we could do the same with WHCC. We had returns using Mpix.
Packing at every lab we tested was far superior to consumer labs. Prints are packed flat, shrink-wrapped, and padded.
We've read that WHCC has had some growing pains. We did receive one batch of damaged 8x10s from them.
Bay Photo's packages stood out. They're packed with surgical precision and shippers will have a very tough time damaging them. The only complaint we can imagine is the determination it takes to break into your own box.
They're all fast. Once we didn't receive an Mpix shipment during their normal upload-tonight-we-ship-tomorrow promise, but it was for framed and mounted prints, which understandably take longer.
- All labs produce similar prints if the color adjust option is off.
- WHCC and Bay Photo have the best color correction (and maybe McKenna).
- Bay Photo has the best packaging.
- They all have great turnaround.