I’ve written elsewhere on here of my immense dissatisfaction with the online print ordering procedures for Adorama’s AdoramaPix service, as well as that offered by Mpix. Having put up with Adorama’s user-unfriendly interface for some time, I decided it was only fair to give Mpix’s equally unfriendly service a try.

The results were less than impressive.

Mpix is extraordinarily irritating to use, and their cropping software is both extremely stupid and doesn’t run correctly on my (Win XP, Firefox) computer. Even uploading presized photos isn’t enough to work around this annoyance. Despite offering three types of paper, one of my biggest irritations with Mpix is that they only let you choose one paper type per order. I haven’t tried the black-and-white paper, and probably won’t; the other two choices are Kodak’s “metallic” Endura paper in a pearl surface, and regular Endura in the “E”, or finely pebbled, surface.

The metallic Endura, frankly, looks awful, and I can’t imagine any demand for this for any serious or professional use. This is a garish “gee-whiz” paper for the snapshots of the masses. The E surface is the traditional paper of pro wedding and portrait labs, a market that Mpix is clearly trying to compete in. For other sorts of photography, however, it’s a pretty poor choice – though not, admittedly, as bad as the metallic stuff.

Irritating paper choices – you can only have one per order – are exacerbated by poor printing quality. Prints on E paper lose an immense amount of fine detail; great for (some) portraits, bad for most other things. Contrast, too, is flattened, and colors are muted. Attempting to liven up the appearance a little by having Mpix lacquer some of the prints – for an extra fee, of course – backfired, as the thinly-applied “gloss” lacquer does little to change the paper surface, instead merely muddying the color even more.

On the plus side, they pack really, really well – better even than Adorama. That’s about the best I can say.

Clearly Mpix wants to target the shamateur or prosumer portrait and wedding markets, where sharpness, detail, and accuracy of reproduction are to a great extent optional. Really, though, you’re paying more than other general labs – like Adorama – and more even than a lot of “real” portrait and wedding labs, but getting an inferior service.

Lest anyone think I’m being unfair, the photos I had printed from them were made from 2K DPI scans (on a Nikon Coolscan) of Provia 100 transparencies in 6×4.5 format, shot with a coated Zeiss lens, all on a tripod… the very same files look amazing when printed at Adorama, but at Mpix they look like they were taken on ISO 400 color print film in a disposable camera.

Not, needless to say, a company I’ll be patronizing again…

Published in: General | on December 3rd, 2005| Comments Off on Mpix…

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