In August this year, Flickr brought back its photo printing service. Alex (a.k.a. Shaka1277) ordered two prints to see what they look like, and he kindly shared his impressions with DIYP and our readers. But, many people wanted to know more about prints from Flickr and about the ordering process itself. So, we ordered a bunch of them and here we bring you a truly in-depth review.
I printed some of my photos: color and black and white, digital and film; in different finishes and different sizes. You’ll see what they look like, and I even did some torture-testing. I got everything in photos, videos, and of course – in writing, so you can get a full picture. So let’s get right into it!
Ordering prints from Flickr
Methods of ordering and ease of use
When you decide you want to print some of your photos, there are two ways to order:
- Go to “Prints” at the top of the page. You’ll get to choose photos from your photostream, but you can also upload a new one, which will be added to photostream as private. Proceed to choose print type, size, and finish.
- Open the photo you want to print and click on a cart under it. Again, proceed to choose print type, size, and finish.
With the first approach, you can’t select multiple images, which I found to be a drawback. If you want all your prints in the same size and finish, it would be much faster to select a batch and then choose the size and finish of your prints. I wanted different types and sizes of prints, so I chose the second approach: I opened the photos I wanted to print in new tabs and clicked on the cart under each of them. It sounds complicated, but it’s not: it worked really fast for me.
Whichever method you opt for, you’ll get a clean, very intuitive page. It’s fast-responsive, easy to use, it clearly guides you and tells you what to do next. All in all, it’s really difficult to get confused and trust me, I can get confused easily.
It’s also worth noting that I didn’t prepare my photos for printing in terms of editing, cropping, etc. You may need to do it if you want to get perfect prints, but honestly, mine turned out perfect even without any additional steps on my side.
Print types and sizes
Even though we tested paper prints, they’re not the only option. You can also choose wall art, desk art, and even keepsakes!
I selected paper prints and was offered image sizes in four groups: standard, special, panoramic, and square. The standard print sizes range from 6” x 4” (15.2 x 10.2 cm) all the way to 40” x 30” (102 x 76.2 cm). Then, there are three finishes to choose from: lustre (matte), glossy, and metallic. When I placed the orders, I noticed that the metallic finish is a bit more expensive. For example, glossy and lustre 9×6 prints cost $1.5 while you’ll pay $2.24 for the metallic finish. The smallest, 6×4 prints cost $0.67 in lustre and glossy, and the metallic one is $1. In my opinion, the higher price is worth it in some cases, but more on that later.
Whichever finish you select, the paper type is disclosed for each: your photos will be printed on different types of Kodak paper. Some of you were curious about the processing labs. This information is not mentioned when you order prints, but Flickr isn’t secretive about it. Back when the company announced this service, it disclosed the names of the labs too: Bay Photo, Loxley Colour, and WHCC.
What I’d like to note here us that, once you add photos to the cart, you can only edit the crop. You can’t choose a different finish or size of your print. So, if you change your mind or you make a mistake, you need to delete the item and start over. Personally, I didn’t find it to be a problem, due to the ease of use and speed I mentioned earlier.
Shipping duration and packaging
Shipping costs around $9 for Serbia and the photos are shipped from Scotland. After ordering my prints, I got a confirmation email with my order number. I also received an email when the prints were shipped. I waited for seven days, and my prints arrived in Serbia.
As for the packaging, my prints came packed in a firm cardboard envelope. When I opened it, my prints were packed in a plastic bag with adhesive sealing, and everything was reinforced with a piece of cardboard the size of the largest print. So, they arrived safe and sound and ready for review.
My first reaction when seeing the prints was something like this: “Wooooow!” I love the feeling of opening an envelope and seeing my photos printed. But the reaction wasn’t like that only because I saw some of my images printed for the first time. Some of them truly looked amazing.
As I mentioned, Flickr uses three different types of Kodak paper with lustre, glossy and metallic finishes. In terms of thickness and quality, I’d say these look more or less like any standard prints. However, they seem a bit thinner than some prints I have at home, printed on Fuji paper.
My preferred finish in almost all circumstances is lustre, but that’s just a personal preference. I generally don’t like a glossy finish, but some photos look great printed even on this paper. I think glossy generally works better for color images, but I like lustre in all cases.
When it comes to the metallic finish, this is the first time I’ve seen photos printed on this kind of paper. My impressions are somewhat mixed. In some photos, it looks amazing! It made me find a new appreciation for one of my black and white photos even though it’s not my favorite one. On the other hand, in other images, the metallic finish doesn’t really add too much, so it’s not worth spending the extra buck for it. Generally speaking, I think it works best for black and white photos.
When it comes to colors, I’m impressed. When printing in local labs I often end up with prints where the colors are inaccurate and there are some weird color shifts. All the prints I ordered from Flickr have rich and accurate colors, and I really enjoyed seeing the scenes in the images as vividly as I saw them with my eyes.
Take a look at the photos below. I have included both the prints and their digital counterparts, so you can compare. It’s worth noting, though, that lighting conditions in my flat are beyond tricky. Because of this, photographed prints have a bit cooler tone than digital images.
Some of our readers commented that it would be useful to have a video to compare different prints – so I made you a video. : )
Fingerprints and some torture-testing
One of my worst nightmares when handling prints is leaving fingerprints on them. Because of this, I was extra-careful not to touch the surface of the photos with my fingers as I was showing you the different papers in the video above.
However, once I started testing smaller prints – I was pleasantly surprised. I went all over the photos with my fingers, and no fingerprints were left on the paper. I expected that from the lustre finish, but I was surprised that the metallic and glossy finishes also turned out to be fingerprint-resistant.
Here’s another video, this time showing how each of the finishes reacts to fingerprints. It’s worth noting that my hands weren’t perfectly clean, but they weren’t really sweaty either. Touching them with oily or sweaty hands will probably leave fingerprints on metallic and glossy prints. So, play it safe and wash and dry your hands before handling photos.
I also torture-tested my prints a bit. In everyday life, it’s easy enough to spill something or accidentally put a coffee cup onto a photo. So, I wanted to see how much damage different liquids would cause. I chose coffee, water, alcohol, and vegetable oil.
I tested all three finishes and divided each print into four imaginary squares. Each square had two stains: one I removed immediately, and one I left to sit for 15 minutes. Here’s how the prints reacted:
- Coffee stains: coffee will leave a stain no matter what you do, on all three finishes. So just keep your coffee away from your printed photos.
- Water stains: if you clean them immediately, you’re all good, and this goes for all three types of prints. But if you leave the water to sit for a while or clean the print improperly, you’ll have a bit of a stain. Although, the lustre finish seems to be resilient and there were no stains left after cleaning.
- Alcohol stains: it depends on how long you leave it to sit and how well you clean the print. But in the majority of cases, you’ll end up with a pale stain.
- Oil stains: okay, you probably won’t put a glass of oil onto a print, but I was curious to see how this kind of liquid affects the finish. Well, it doesn’t. After some cleaning, there were no stains left on either of the prints.
Once again, I made the video so you can see what you can expect and how the stains look like after I cleaned the prints.
I also managed an unplanned torture test with heat. Me being me, I left a few prints too close to the radiator while I was editing videos. I think they were there for at least half an hour. The heat made them bend really badly, and I was pretty angry with myself for being so reckless. But once I removed them from there and left them to sit at room temperature, they flattened out again. Whew!
Cleaning your prints
As I mentioned above and in the video, you need to clean your prints properly if you happen to spill liquid on them. I did it in both a proper and improper way, so here are some tips from my experience.
- Clean the prints immediately: don’t wait for the liquid to dry! As soon as you spill it, gently clean it from the print’s surface.
- Don’t rub: when you start cleaning the liquid, don’t rub the print’s surface. Especially not with a paper towel, because it will leave a residue. Instead, gently press a clean cloth against the print so it absorbs the liquid.
- Use a lens cloth: first soak up the liquid really well, let the print dry, and then use a lens cloth to rub the surface… (I told you a lens cloth was a great gift). In my case, this helped all prints to look like new (except when they were stained with coffee).
As I said, this is all from my experience and I learned some things the hard way (such as not using paper towels). The good news is that stains from most of the liquids I used can be removed. I didn’t manage to remove any coffee stains, and I believe that other similarly dark beverages would also leave a stain, but I didn’t try it. Of course, if any of you know how to remove coffee stains, feel free to let me know, I haven’t discovered any good method so far.
The bottom line
Generally speaking, I can say that I’m very satisfied with everything about Flickr prints, from the ordering process to the photos I got to hold in my hands once they arrived.
The ordering process is fast, easy and intuitive. Prints arrived pretty fast, and the package is firm and it kept them safe during shipping. As for the prints themselves, perhaps the paper could be a bit thicker. But honestly, that’s about the only complaint I have (if that can even be called a complaint). I also don’t like the glossy finish very much, but it’s just a personal preference.
Personally, I would also like to see how the prints act in bright sunlight. But it’s winter here in Serbia, or in other words: not much sunlight even on a sunny day. So, I will leave this for summer and perhaps update my review then.
If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to ask me in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer.