Mpix is a well-known, high-end photo printing service that offers specialties like giclée prints and claims the fastest turnaround among photo finishers. Pro photographers will also appreciate that it’s one of the only major photo print services that still develops film. Its prices are higher than those of some competing photo finishers, but the website interface, printing options, shipment packaging, and photographic results are second to none, not only making it PCMag’s Editors’ Choice winner for high-end photo printing, but also earning it a rare 5-star rating.
How Much Does Mpix Cost?
For fewer than 11 4-by-6-inch prints you pay 33 cents per photo, but for 11 or more, that per-print price goes down to a reasonable 27 cents. The photo finisher also offers Economy 4-by-6 prints at 24 cents apiece, but those don’t include color correction, and you won’t get free reprints if colors are off. Nations Photo Lab and Printique charge 32 cents and 31 cents, respectively, regardless of the quantity. Snapfish, Walmart, and York Photo Labs all charge just 9 cents for 4-by-6s, while Amazon charges 15 cents for the same.
Larger-size prints are similarly on the high end, but not the most expensive: 5-by-7s cost $1.39 ($1.27 for orders of more than 11) and 8-by-10s are $2.99 ($2.60 each for orders of more than 11). That compares with just 58 cents for 5-by-7s at Amazon Prints and 69 cents at Walmart Photo. Closer competitors Printique and Nation Photo Lab both charge $2.49 for 8-by-10 prints.
Unlike RitzPix and Target Photo, Mpix requires you to set up an account before you can start your order, which is actually a good thing, since this step helps you keep track of your orders. Creating an account also got me 25 percent off the first order.
Photo Gifts and Cards
Compared with the other premium-level photo printing services, Mpix offers a wide variety of objects that can be emblazoned with your photos. You can get cards, calendars, and photo books, but Mpix also offers bag tags, personalized baseball cards, blankets, holiday ornaments, and keychains. One of the more interesting options is the cutout statuette (starting at $16), but for truly odd choices like shower curtains and dog bowls, head to Shutterfly.
Mpix offers over 400 designs for holiday photo card options, as well as premium features like decorative shapes and foil printing. Unfortunately, there are almost no designs for folding cards. A company representative told me that most customers provide their own custom design layouts. You’ll pay $3.44 per card for a 5-by-7 double-sided card, but prices are often heavily discounted, and you pay less per card for larger volumes. For comparison, Walmart charges only 67 cents for 5-by-7 flat cards and offers same-day pickup, while Amazon charges 99 cents but doesn’t offer that convenience. Printique and Nations Photo Lab charge $1.75 and $1.31 per 5-by-7 card, respectively.
Ordering Photos on Mpix
Mpix has a clear, well-designed website. The service lets you upload photos from your computer, and you can also get photos from your Facebook account. Mpix saves your uploaded photos in folders for later use. One limitation is that you can only upload JPGs—no PNGs or TIFFs. The uploading interface does support drag-and-drop from computer folders.
After you upload photos, you see a filmstrip across the top and each image is displayed large in the center with all the size options in a column on the left. Cropping, zooming, rotation, text overlay, and effects like black-and-white are on offer. You can also choose a paper type (standard, metallic, or black and white), luster or linen texture, and matting/mounting.
Even after you choose all your print sizes and quantities, the next page gives you another chance to make changes to your order, in a view that shows either all images or a clear order summary showing all the products and quantities.
On the last page before finalizing the order, you can see the final image preview or add photo retouching of several varieties: Facial, Glass Glare Removal, Stray Hair Removal, Red Eye Reduction, Braces Removal, and Teeth Whitening. These are not services offered by your run-of-the-mill photo printer, but they start at $8 per service for one head.
At the checkout stage, you can use a credit card, PayPal, or an e-gift card. Shipping options for my order of 26 prints included a $3.95 Economy option, $7.95 for Standard (3 to 8 business days), and $14.95 for Expedited (2 to 5 business days).
If desktop computers aren’t your thing, Mpix offers a mobile app, Tap to Print, that lets you order from your phone, using photos shot on your phone. You get all the same capabilities as you do on the website, including cropping and mounting options.
Shipping and Print Quality
In terms of packaging, Mpix is right at the top alongside Printique. Those are the only two services that sent our order in a hard, cardboard box rather than an envelope of some type. Mpix also cushioned the order with plastic foam, with the invoice clearly stating the contents on top. Our box had a stain on it, but that wasn’t Mpix’s fault, and the sturdy packaging made it a non-issue. Below you can see the shipping package comparisons, with Mpix second from the right:
The print quality from Mpix, too, is excellent. All our test prints came on Kodak Endura paper, which is the best, most professional-level paper used by any of the services tested. One issue, however, is that the standard E-Surface paper option that the service suggest has a slight marbled, matte texture. That’s fine for most uses, but it can get in the way of fine detail compared with glossy prints we use for testing. Most services offer an entry-level glossy option, but Mpix charges more for its two glossy options. One of these, Metallic, costs 59 cents in 4-by-6 size, compared with 29 cents for E-Surface. In the larger standard sized, Metallic 5-by-7s are $1.65 and 8-by-10s are $3.52 compared with $1.29 and $2.79 for E-Surface. The Metallic paper is frankly stunning, and almost gives images a 3-D appearance.
Even with the texture, you can see above that the color balance produced by Mpix was among the best of the results for the portrait shot we used in testing. Note how the red hat isn’t washed out like the Amazon Prints result, and the skin tone isn’t overly red as in the Snapfish and York prints. Mpix also turned in an excellent performance with a landscape test, as you can see below. The sky isn’t too bright or too dark, and the detail in the valley is preserved.
Even though Mpix isn’t an online photo sharing service like Flickr, you can have the service create an email invitation for others to view your online hosted photo galleries. A side benefit of this is that you can offer recipients the option to purchase your photos, though you don’t get a commission, as you do with SmugMug. The recipient can view the images as gallery thumbnails or as a well-presented slideshow with large images.
A Top Photo Printing Choice
We were impressed with the Mpix experience from start to finish. The ordering pages are clear and packed with options. The price is far from bargain-basement, but it’s reasonable. The delivery packaging is among the most protective of any services we’ve reviewed, and the photo print quality is excellent, printed on high-quality professional paper. Mpix joins Printique as a PCMag Editors’ Choice high-end photo printing service. For lower costs and decent print quality, check out our value Editors’ Choice winners for photo finishing, Snapfish and Walmart Photo.