Endorsement: Snapfish

I got my first digital camera, “Cammy” the Cannon Elph, two Christmases ago, and ever since I’ve been on a search for the perfect online photo store. Early in ’03 I hit upon Snapfish.com, which at 19 cents-a-print was a bargain — by far and away the cheapest. The 4x6s looked decent and always arrived within a week, so I was happy. But as time wore on, I began to question my initial decision. After all, the only reason I was drawn to Snapfish was because a colorful internet ad. Nobody I knew could vouch for the site, and surely paying half the price of other stores must involve some trade-off. Besides, everyone else I knew was using Ofoto and Shutterfly.

It took the simultaneous purchase of an iBook and post-wedding photo sharing to get me to try other vendors. The prices were steep, but, alas, none of the wedding guests were ponying up hard copies (just email links), so I ordered up batches of prints from Ofoto and Shutterfly. Both services took longer than I was used to–due, no doubt, to their being in California, while Snapfish is in Maryland–but the quality seemed decent enough. And they both had pretty much the same editing and sharing capabilities. Shutterfly, it turned out, had one major edge: It was the only service that supported a fast-upload service for Mac. So I used that site for some non-wedding family photos in the Fall, too.

I was starting to get really steamed that Snapfish required one-by-one uploads from Macs, especially irritating because I had 250 pre-purchased prints which it seemed like I’d never use in my new isolated Apple world. By mid-November, I was already planning an apology to my family, explaining how sorry I was that I’d gotten them hooked on Snapfish, a site so obviously out of touch with the tech world. But then three things happened. We got our holiday cards from Shutterfly, and a bunch were printed with a hideous blue cast over the black-and-white image (sorry to those of you that got the skunky blue thank-yous). Then in early December Snapfish launched a quick-upload tool for Macs, which I found to work flawlessly (something that couldn’t be said of Shutterfly’s). And finally, during my family’s pre-Christmas Christmas in upstate New York, my Dad unwrapped a personalize calendar, full of Mann-family babies in seasonally themed clothing, that my sister had created at Snapfish. The pictures were such high quality, and the paper was so sturdy and vibrant, and the cost was so low ($11 or $12, I think), that my doubts about Snapfish were immediately dispelled. Another way to look at the calendar: The pages are each 8.5×11 and high-res, so if you trimmed the edges you’d have about 12 huge, frame-able photos — all at a price of $1 per 8×10.

Having just spent a fortune to develop 5×7 wedding photos at a traditional photo store (damn you, Ritz Camera!), I hereby resolve to never go off-line for photos again. And given Snapfish’s outstanding quality, price, speed, and Mac functionality, they’d have to do something awfully offensive to lose me again.

Incidentally, another good use for Snapfish is just storing photos. Rather than clogging up Andy’s server with all the images I put onto Turkeymonkey, I just upload ’em to Snapfish and copy the links into the blog.

(Not to be a shill or anything, but … If you’re looking for a digital photo store, too, and in the giving mood, please click on the link below to set up a Snapfish account. It’ll give me a handful of free prints, and in exchange for hooking me up I’ll happily send you links to my ever expanding library of photos.)