If you don’t have a photo printer at home or if printing your own photos is too expensive, you can fall back on some alternative print providers. Either the self-printing machines in specialist shops or an order from an online photo service. But which is better, which is worthwhile for whom – and when?
Ordering photos online or printing them in a shop?
With the advent of digital photography, two new business sectors for printing photos on paper have gradually emerged. On the one hand, there are so-called print consoles in relevant IT markets or large drugstore chains. These allow digital photos from various storage media or even from social networks to be printed directly in the shop.
A second option for capturing one’s photos on paper is offered by so-called online photo services, which one commissions to print photos via the internet or via order consoles in relevant shops. The quality is basically the same, because (photo) paper remains paper – we show where there are nevertheless striking differences and which option is better for you.
In-store print consoles
You can find them more and more often in IT stores or drugstore chains, the print consoles for paper prints of digital photos. Here you can find out what you need to bear in mind and what the approximate costs are.
During a small research round in the area around Munich, we took a look at the equipment of some typical specialist shops with consoles for self-printing photos, which can be found all over Germany. The print consoles, regardless of the manufacturer, work according to the same basic principle. You load your pictures from various storage media (e.g. memory card (all common types), USB stick, CD/DVD or mobile phone) into a selection view on the integrated touch screen monitor.
There, you can select the pictures to be printed with the touch of a finger, make one or two quality, cropping and format settings and have the selected pictures printed. Payment is then made directly at the checkout using the price voucher provided. To avoid spending too much time at the console, you should already make a rough photo and format selection at home on the PC or directly on the memory card with the camera. Some print consoles even offer the option of calling up and printing photos from a Facebook account via the Internet. Of course, this requires the appropriate authorisation for the corresponding Facebook access.
Special features and prices
Prices vary from print station to print station. The equipment of the self-printing areas and the range of formats is also not the same. While one shop only offers simple photo printing, we found an almost complete print lab at a dm drugstore, where you can choose from a wide range of output options, from large posters to photo books and photo calendars. In this case, an extra trained staff member is on hand to help if needed.
Conclusion – in-store printing consoles
So if you want to avoid printing photos at home, but still need paper photos quickly, a self-printing console like this is a good choice. Plus, the prices per photo are about 10 to 20 cents cheaper than at your home ink or dye-sublimation printer. The spread of locations of such self-printing consoles is quite large due to the many different providers, and you are sure to find a branch with a printing console in an IT or drugstore near you.