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Phil Bamber's picture

Budget Prints vs Pro Lab Prints

Printing represents the final step in the journey of a photograph. I have just written a comparison blog post, looking at the differences between a print ordered from a budget lab and one created by a pro lab.

The same 300dpi, sRGB jpeg was sent to both labs (which, to save any embarrassment shall remain nameless) and the resulting prints were photographed in the most controlled way that I could be bothered doing. That is to say, same camera/lens, same lighting, custom white balances, incident light meter readings and zero post-processing. I'm sure that I could have got even more accurate results from using a proper prints test chart, but I feel that this 'real world' example more than adequately shows the differences between the two. So, the results:

Sharpness: by far the biggest difference between the two. It's like comparing a 4K TV with something from the 1980s.

Blacks: deeper blacks in the pro lab print (though this might be more obvious in person than on screen)

Colour: a noticeable orange/warm cast in the budget print. I more colour-neutral image, such as a print test chart, would have been more accurate, but there you go.

Price Difference (UK Prices): Budget Print: £3 for 15x10" - Pro Lab Print: £10.95 for 16x12"

Conclusion: for general purpose snaps, the budget printer does the trick, but for more important, professional work, the Pro Lab wins by a mile.

For the full blog post, please visit


Phil Bamber

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