We’ve been talking here at IDPN about wanting to do some additional product reviews, and when we received a Catalina coupon at the grocery store for $20 off a Shutterfly album, we knew it was time to take on this giant. First of all, the fact that Shutterfly is handing out grocery store coupons says something about their omnipresence- they’re betting the average person has heard of them, even if they’re not using their services yet. Shutterfly has an unrivaled market share in the world of online photo fulfillment, and with their assumption of Kodak’s online printing that percentage just keeps growing.
We’ve looked at Shutterfly products here at IDPN before. When we did our huge 8×10” print review, the images we received from Shutterfly were subpar and fairly expensive, especially for the quality. However, Shutterfly offers a vast catalog of products, and press printing (the kind used for magazine style albums and cards) is a very different animal from photo printing. All in all, we found their press album to be a decent value for the $24 we spent on a 20 page book.
The Design Process
Putting together a design through Shutterfly was relatively simple. They had a lot of nice, modern designs to choose from that complimented the photos from our contributor Ash Marie Photography, and even if their wedding catalog doesn’t do it for you, their other designs can be amended to fit with wedding photography. It was easy to manipulate elements and pictures- we could add, subtract, and move them around without issue. The only thing we never figured out was how to duplicate an image within the design- we couldn’t seem to use the same image on the cover and then later in the design of the book itself.
Quality of Construction
The book feels sturdy and the cover is thick and glossy- it probably would resist small spills. The paper weight is nice and thick for a magazine style album. The pages do not lay flat, so some of the design is lost in the gutter. Still, it doesn’t feel like an heirloom album. In our opinion, we’d be more than happy to give this album as a gift copy for parents or have as a brag book copy of a wedding album to hand around at the office, but it doesn’t feel like an official Wedding Album. Even Shutterfly calls these products “photo books” not “albums.”
Press print pictures are never going to be as dynamic as photographic prints, but still the image quality was decent. There was some loss of detail in the shadows and some loss of sharpness, but for small gift album copies it was wholly appropriate.
The album is barcoded twice and imprinted with the Shutterfly logo. I can understand one barcode, but two? It’s possible they’re necessary for the pages and the cover to be combined on the factory floor, but it still feels tacky, especially for a wedding album.