snapfish vs shutterfly / by Isaiah Winters

So like many photographers who are just starting out and want to start making prints, I found myself trying to decide between arguably the two largest companies Snapfish and Shutterfly. Luckily for me both companies were running promotions for the holidays that allowed me to have some 4 x 6 prints made for free if I paid shipping and handling. So I set out to order two sets of the same pictures and compare them. I found that when I looked for information online there weren't too many places where potential customers could really get a good look at the differences between the two companies. Snapfish is the cheaper of the two, but most times this means that the work may not be as good as the competitor. After having both sets of photos for over and week, and going over them with some fellow photographers I have made my decision over which company I will be going with. Let me show you some examples and explain why below. 

Left: Snapfish (Matte Finish w/ White Borders) Right: Shutterfly (Glossy Finish)

In this first pair of pictures I wanted to show two images that are Black and White. The first thing that I noticed when I compared the images was the the contrast and color seemed like they had been sucked out of the Shutterfly images on the Right. While the ones from Snapfish really kept the contrast and drama I was going for when I took the shots. Not everything with the Snapfish pictures was perfect though, as I noticed that the images were a lot softer than they originally were. Shutterfly seemed to retain it's sharpness, and you can really tell this if you look at the Woman's collar in the corner of the Top Right Photo and compare it to the one in the Top Left. 

Left: Snapfish (Matte Finish w/ White Borders) Right: Shutterfly (Glossy Finish)

It wasn't until I moved to this pair of images that I really started to see some of the issues that I had with Shutterfly. Since it is $0.15 a print vs Snapfish $0.09 a print I really expected better quality from them. Shutterfly uses Fujifilm Crystal Archive while Snapfish uses Kodak Paper. The picture in the Top Left looks almost exactly the way it did when I took it, and when it was post-processed. The one on the Top Right looks as though it was really faded and the image lost some of the power that made it popular with some of my followers. I would not feel comfortable showing someone a copy of the Shutterfly print. Moving to the images on the problem, the Bottom Left is a tiny bit softer than I would like but it shows the original image for the most part. The Bottom Right actually seems like it has a little bit TOO much contrast. This goes against some of the problems I had in the first set of images and leaves me confused as to why there isn't consistency if they were printed together. Shutterfly prints also seemed to pick up fingerprints extremely easy, but I know that most Glossy photographs do. 

Left: Snapfish (Matte Finish w/ White Borders) Right: Shutterfly (Glossy Finish) 

When I got the the last pair of images I really wanted to compare, I found that I was having the same exact problems that I had while looking at all the others. I have no doubt that Shutterfly produces good images and has some amazing products but for what I am going for they are not for me. I would absolutely not feel right showing a potential client prints from them. Snapfish is the company I decided to go with and I ordered a number of larger prints from them. They came in and look amazing, even better than the 4 x 6 images I got with my trial. The only problem I noticed is that the Matte Finish on the Snapfish images can scratch easily so make sure you get them in your portfolio/album/frame as soon as possible! I probably did more damage than the average person would while I was trying to make my finish decision though. I also want to note that these are pictures taken of pictures so there are things I may have notice that will not translate well on a computer screen. Both companies regularly have trials for free prints just like the ones I received. I urge anyone that may be on the fence to give them both a try and see what you think!