Print comparison – Professional Photo Print Quality versus High Street Photo Print Quality

12th August 2016

If you’ve had a shoot with me, you will know that included in your fee are digital files. This is something I did a lot of research and surveys about and discovered that over 90% of the people I asked wanted digital files. To be honest, I was quite relieved, as I am a photographer and not a sales person!
I am perfectly happy to give you access to your web-based album to choose your images, in your own time, and with no pressure or up-selling.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as a photographer I love nothing more than to see my images of your family hanging on your wall (and of course I can supply the wall art if asked) but I also appreciate not everyone has the budget to spend a few hundred pounds on a single item, especially after paying for a professional photography session. Some people (myself included) like to change the images of their little people regularly and as a result, a selection of digital files offers a great alternative. Purchase a really nice big frame and then you have the flexibility to change the image as often as you like!

This then brings me on to the quality of the digital file you receive. While I appreciate I may not be the photographer for you, when choosing your photographer, ask them the size of the digital file they supply.
If you are planning on printing the images yourself, you want to be confident that you can print in the size that you want and there is no restriction on print size (for example nothing bigger than A4).

The file I give is the full resolution file. It is not restricted to a specific print size, oh no, it is the full deal and can be enlarged up to a whopping 40 inches without a single drop in quality!

So, this got me thinking.

Obviously when I print images of my own family, I use my professional print lab. Some of my clients also choose to have my professional lab print their images but there are others who prefer to take them away and print themselves at a later date.

So, to ensure they are getting the best value for money and also the best representation of my work, I had a look around at the places where my clients would get their images printed. I wanted to do a test to see if there was a difference in quality, and colour representation and who offered the closet match to my original finished file. Afterall, if you are going to enlarge an image you want to be 100% the skin tones and background are exactly as the file you view on your computer, so lets pit the pro lab against the high street and see if you really do get what you pay for!

I have chosen an image that has a wide range of colours across the image and also specific key lighting on the subjects face. So as printing goes it has lots of information on the file. I took this image and had it printed with my professional lab, Boots, Snapfish and Photobox and below are the results:

Original File
Original File










1. Professional Lab                            2. Boots                                            3.PhotoBox                                        4.SnapFish









I think it’s safe to say the best quality is from my professional lab with SnapFish coming a very close second. The resolution on the SnapFish image is quite blurry up close, but it is definitely the closest for colour match.

The difference in price is £10 delivered for my pro lab vs £4.60 delivered for SnapFish. While these are 4×6 images, I know that as prints get bigger the colour snags and clarity (sharpness) become more obvious on the ‘high street’ printers.

So there you have it. I must admit I am relieved the pro lab came out on top!

So, in the future, if you are printing above an A4 size, I really recommend you have it done via your photographer. Yes it will be more expensive, but you can be 100% sure the image is going to be exactly like the file you see on the screen and aren’t your family’s photographs worth it?!