Photo developing – how do you do it for a reasonable price?

Find out how to choose an Internet site that specializes in photo developing. You’ll be able t develop more photos for less money without sacrificing quality. Also, understand your options when it comes to using your home printer and get some recommendation for Internet sites that develop photos.

Online photos developing

Digital photo developing – with your printer, on the Internet, and even at the local photo store

The words ‘photo developing’ is a bit of a misnomer. In case you’re too young to remember, it comes from traditional photography terminology. In the not-so-far past you had to take your camera film to be ‘developed’ by a professional lab that has a dark room, or specialized equipment. The photo developing stage was done with chemicals, and then the printing was done with negatives and photographic paper. Even though there’s no need for any ‘developing’ these days, the term stuck and is used in our digital age.
Developing digital photos, or printing digital photos, can be done in several methods. The home printer is a simple and accessible tool that anyone can use, you can also upload photos to Internet sites that will print them for us, and you can even go to your neighborhood photo lab with a thumb drive or a CD loaded with photos. Most home printers do not produce prints that are on par with the prints of a photo lab (the ones that do cost a lot per print). For that reason, we recommend buying a photo printer for the home only if it’s critical for you to see and print your results right away.

Before you run off to print – here are a few photo developing tips:

There are things that can help you when you are ordering prints (whether it’s from a physical store, or from an online one):
  1. Choose your photo paper – most people don’t know that they can actually pick the kind of photo paper they want. Stores will usually choose a cheaper (and lower quality) kind by default. There are significant differences between kinds of paper stores use. The three most common brands are Kodak, AGFA, and Fuji. They differ from each other in the warmth they produce in the resulting photo – some prefer to have ‘warmer’ photos and some prefer colder tones. We recommend doing some experimentation by ordering a batch photos printed on a variety of papers, so you can see the differences for yourself. Some stores use old stocks of paper for printing, so you really have to see for yourself and choose a store and a paper that you like best. By the way, some stores don’t carry more than one brand of paper, so asking for a different kind is out of the question. In this case (if you insist on doing your photo developing there), you can request that they do some color-correction, which is done with filters or by changing the settings in the machine. Do a test print before you order a large batch of color-corrected prints. Don’t worry about pestering the store employees – if the test photo doesn’t look right ask them to try different parameters.
  2. Match the print size to the resolution – don’t print in poster-size if the resolution is not high enough, because it will result in a grainy photo – where you can see the color pixels (just like when you look in the newspaper with a magnifying glass).
  3. Choose between matte and glossy – photo labs let you choose either a matte or a glossy finish to your photos. This is a matter of taste, but be aware that it might be too much to put a glossy photo framed under a glass or in a plastic sleeve in an album. The gloss of the photo will combine with the gloss of the glass and will not look great. Professional photographers usually prefer a matte finish.
  4. Choose the size of the print – digital photo developing, just like traditional photo developing has its standard print sizes. You can choose any size you want, but remember that the price goes way up as the size goes up. Also, most photo albums only work with certain sizes of prints (no bigger than 5x7).
  5. Crop your photos – working with digital photos lets you zoom in and print a particular part of a photo. If, for example, you took a picture of your kid, but didn’t see the unsightly garbage cans in the background, you can crop out the garbage cans and not have them in the photo. Modern cameras shoot at such high resolution that you can do such cropping without significantly reducing the quality of the final picture. You can crop (and do other editing) at kiosks stationed in photo stores and department stores, or at Internet sites where do your photo developing, or just ask the employee at the local photo store.
Don’t forget – it’s okay to bring photos back to the store if you are not satisfied. If the photos came out truncated, or with strange coloration, or for any other reason, bring them back and ask that they develop them again.
If you love photography like we do, put some effort into it and you’ll become a better photographer - read the many articles we have in the photography lessons section, and discover the secrets of digital photography. Even simpler, click here to sign up for a free email photography course that includes weekly lessons with tips and exercises.
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