costco vs others printing

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Keebler, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. Keebler macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    Hi there,

    I was at a black's today buying some nicely discounted frames. I overheard one of the salespeople talking to a lady discussing the quality of prints from Costco (price club) vs Black's Photography (photographic chain here in Canada). The price difference is $0.20 per (black's - $0.39 and costco $0.19 per) for 4x6's. price varies for other sizes too with black's being more. the black's person was saying that the quality of their prints is far superior to costco's. now, i didn't want to jump into a conversation b/c my 2 young boys were wreaking havoc in the store, but I was wondering if that was the case or was this guy just pumping his store. his quote to the lady was, "well, if we sold tires and other stuff, we could lower our price too".

    So, my question...does anyone know if costco indeed uses lower quality equipment and services? Is Black's superior?

    I personally have not had any major issues with my prints. there was 1 print that was iffy, but i'm going to reprint it at black's just to see as i'm not sure if it was the printing or maybe i wasn't focused enough with my camera.

  2. Buschmaster macrumors 65816


    Feb 12, 2006
    I thought Blacks was acquired by Browns was acquired by Proex was acquired by Ritz?

    All Black's (or whoever ;) ) does is photography. Costco's may be good, and maybe as good. But as far as me, I've noticed better (film) prints from Ritz/Proex vs. say a place like Walgreens.
  3. GnarleyMarley macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I was actually in Sam's Club (similar to costco) getting some prints. And I overheard some lady asking this question. The guy working in the photo dep. said that places like walgreens and what not use better paper and that's why there prices are more than sam's(16 cents). My prints came out nice, but were not that glossy. 16 cents though, can't complain.:)
  4. Keebler thread starter macrumors 68030

    Jun 20, 2005
    thanks. i think i'm going to try a run of my favourite prints and compare them with the eye.

  5. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    I've generally had good luck with Costco's in-store printing. It does seem to depend on how busy the photo department is though. I've had less excellent results when they've been unable to keep up with demand and still deliver prints in 1 hour. In that case, I usually tell them to hold off until the crush is over.

    EDIT: FWIW the prints I've had from Costco are on the same Fuji Crystal Archive paper that seems prevalent in Fuji based processors.

  6. GnarleyMarley macrumors 6502a


    Apr 23, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    My prints were also on Fuji Crystal Archive paper.
  7. spitfirejd macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2004
    Magnolia, Delaware, USA
    I disagree

    I had a friend that I shot several rolls of film for at Aberdeen Proving Ground. He said he was going to have copies made at Costco but I told him to get them done at a local photo lab. He didn't believe me that there was a huge difference in quality. So I selected half a dozen pictures representing various lighting, contrast, etc and had them printed at both places. The Costco prints looked okay until you put them next to the lab photos. It was definately a case of night and day. He is totally color blind and could see the difference! :eek: He paid the extra for a couple of hundred prints at the lab. I suggest you do the same and have some printed at Costco then have the same pics printed at the other place and see for yourself, but I'd bet you won't go to Costco again (for picture printing).
  8. hana macrumors regular

    May 23, 2003
    Los Angeles
    I've found Costco to be pretty good, but I also caution on using them during busy times... like the Thanksgiving to Christmas period where people are generating their Holiday Cards...then it can be a zoo. :eek:

    For the past two years, I've used their online service to upload (I have DSL so no problems doing that) and then pick them up at the local Costco.(some costcos do this, but others do not) I always print out the "your prints are ready" e-mail and take it with me. One thing good about having the photos uploaded online (they use something like the Snapfish online service) is that once you've uploaded them, there's no need to upload them again.

    Also at my local Costco, you can go to the kiosks and upload via memory card, USB stick, or CD.

    The one hour thing only works for up to so many photos. Also the ones uploaded via the kiosk need to be paid before processing.

    Hope this helps.
  9. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool
    Sams Club is great. They use the same Fuji system as any professional lab. Only Sams calibrates once a week and the lab does it once a day.
  10. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Most mini labs are the same these days. I often get 8x10 prints made at WalMart, they use a Fuji Frontier and print on Fuji Crystal Archive. Most Frontier operators will just leave the machine on auto. If you can get the files in early after a chemical change and test strips, then you'll be ahead of the game. If you also profile yourself and have them run the files straight, you can get exactly what you want if your system is profiled.

    The WalMart I use has two techs who're willing to go the extra mile for me, and also will reprint on the spot if I don't order my prints prepaid. In that regard it's like any other lab, if the folks running the machine are (a) careful, (b) professional and (c) care about their work, then you should be getting great results. I've been told who does and doesn't calibrate and what the best time to come in is- I wouldn't expect the exact same results at a different store though.

    It's so cheap to shoot a shot and send it to multiple labs these days though that the best answer is really "Try it." Don't expect all labs in a chain to have consistent quality though.

    Pro labs tend to do more work on each file, and that's where you pay the premium- mini labs from any chain will vary with the operator a lot more than a pro lab.
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    We are not talking about custom prints here. Custom means where you talk with the printer and explain that you want some of the highlights in the background taken down a bit and that you like the crop from 3:2 to 5:4 to be done a certain way. I've done this a few times and brought in a proof print with notes. If the work is for display it's worth the $25 or $50 per print price to hire a pro's expertise.

    For low priced prints made on an automated machine, price varies. What you hope is that the smaller lab that does not also sell tires and janitorial supplies will take time to carefully monitor their automatic Fuji printer. They might actually look at the prints the machine makes and calibrate the machine frequently. And the person looking at the prints as they come off the machine may have a trained eye In other words they do good quality control so you can expect the same exact results day to day. The cheaper services may not do the same quality control.

    That said. A small lab may be quite poor and the lab at Costco might be run by a manager who is very fanatical about details. I don't think you can make blanket statements about who does what best. Chances are best at a place that caters to pro's but you will pay for that.

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