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Review of Mpix for printing calendars

Mike Keran , Dec 14, 2006; 05:08 p.m.

So often we only write about bad experiences with companies that I wanted to write about a positive experience I've had recently with Mpix. (No, I'm not associated with them, in fact, this is the first time I've used their services).

For the past few years I've printed calendars as gifts for family and friends. In the past I've used Shutterfly, DigiLabs, and now Mpix. Print quality and customization have been a main concern for me, so when I found DigiLabs' custom calendar software, I was very happy. It allowed printing on 12x18 inch paper, bound at the top, which gives me a lot more layout flexibility when compared to the more common letter size (11x17 when opened with binding in the middle) calendars. Anyhow, Mpix also prints calendars using the same software and their prices were a bit better so I decided to give them a try.

I uploaded my calendar to Mpix on Tues morning, it had printed and shipped by Tues evening and arrived on at my door by mid-day Wed! They charge a flat-rate of $9.95 for next day FedEx shipping (or $4.95 for standard USPS). I can't imagine that they can continue this forever without losing money on it -- my order was 19 lbs! Can't beat that.

Mpix seems to use 100# glossy paper for the front and back cover (although you can't print on the back cover page) and lighter, matte paper for the interior pages. DigiLabs uses 80# glossy for all the pages and doesn't include a back cover. While the heavier paper is nice (white parts don't show dark colors from the next page), the glossy paper is hard to write on and ink smears if you don't give is a few seconds to dry. Photos are a little punchier on the DigiLabs calendar, though I'm not sure if that's a factor of glossy vs. matte or printing method. Mpix claims you can get ICC profiles for their printers if you email them, but I didn't do that mostly because I was running low on time. I'm regretting that as I have one month with a lot of black in the image and the blacks are a bit washed out. ("It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black." Sorry, couldn't resist... <smirk>).

Other than that month, I'm happy with the print quality of the Mpix calendar. They don't hold a candle to the same image coming from my 2200 on Ilford Smooth Pearl, but I didn't expect them to. You're basically getting 13 12x18 inch prints for $20 ($17.50 if you order more than 10) so I'm not expecting the same quality. Besides, have you tried to write on Smooth Pearl? <grin>

In the future, I will do the research to get their ICC profiles so I can soft-proof the images before sending them off. Otherwise, they seem to be the best for short run calendar printing that I've found. If anyone knows a place that does regular sized (ie: 12x12 inch, 24x12 open) saddle stitched calendars in short runs (25, perhaps 50?), please let me know as I'd like to try that for next year.

Responses

Dave Powell , Dec 14, 2006; 05:40 p.m.

Thanks, Mike, for the heads-up! I'll also mention that I had an equally positive and fast experience this week, when I create a photo book for Christmas gifting through www.mypublisher.com. It took just two hours to build a 20-page 7x5 paperback (double-sided on heavy glossy stock) containing about 60 images (with one showing through a cover cutout). And I received four lovely copies in the mail two days later...at a total cost of about $50. (They also do larger hardbound books (with cover cutouts), but I stuck with their $10 paperbacks for my first outing.)

Their website also contains links for purchasing additional copies, and for letting friends view one's books online...but my file hasn't yet been posted, due to heavy holiday traffic. Also, their site is still promising to ship books by Christmas, if they are created by 12/17.

Anyway, I thought I'd pass along a similar testimonial (from someone who isn't involved with the supplier).

Next year...Calendars!

Sincerely,

Dave

Louise Heusinkveld , Dec 15, 2006; 09:04 a.m.

When looking around for a printer for calendars, it is always worth considering your small local print shop (I mean the places that do stationery etc). I have been getting a very reasonable quality calendar on letter size paper, metal spiral bound with cardboard back and clear plastic front for $11(cdn) each. Small run of about 50, and they have done this for me for the last 4 years. Of course, you either have to design your own or use a calendar software, they only do the printing and binding. Don't bother with the big chain print shops, they charge too much and (in my experience) produce a very poor quality product.

h d , Jan 03, 2012; 05:37 p.m.

Hey everybody, I want to post a quick reply to this thread to let you know that I am having big problems with Digi-labs (AKA Digilabs, Digilabspro.com, digi-labs.net and "my photo creations" - They seem to have a lot of websites and a lot of different names). I have been printing 12" x 18" calendars in significant numbers every year to give away to my colleagues and customers. As a long-term customer, with some orders in the thousands of dollars, You might think I would get good service if I ever had a problem, but as you will see if you read on, this is not been the case.

First of all, these calendars are a relative bargain, and so my expectations are in line with the cost. We're talking about a relatively large calendar with a cover and 12 pages, each 12" x 18", and the total cost is about $20 plus shipping.
As a photographer naturally I am very focused on image quality. This year, I had significant color banding on multiple images. They are naturally much more noticeable In images with large areas of similar color. If you look carefully they are on all the prints. Basically, the entire stack of calendars is unusable. I can't give badly printed images to my clients! What kind of impression does that make for my business?
So is this a big deal? Well it would've been okay if I got a prompt and helpful response from Digilabs customer service. However, this has not been the case. I have been in contact with them repeatedly (6 emails, 3 support tickets, 5 phone calls) in the past 10 days. No phone call has ever been returned. The only way to get any kind of response is to submit a support ticket.
I have received responses from three different persons, none of which seems to have been in contact with the other two, and I have sent representative images to them on two separate occasions.
So far I have had no satisfaction from Digilabs. As photographers we have a lot of choices including some mentioned in this posting. For the present time, I would avoid digilabs.

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