The photo album is dead, long live the photo book. Last year over 10 million photo books and calendars were printed in Europe using the digital Indigo print process; a growing number of them had a hi-gloss varnish applied for a glossy finish.
In addition to the printed books, there is a growing range of photo albums on photographic paper bound as a book. The photo book on photographic paper is more expensive but provides high colour saturation on pages that lie flat. With a fully printed cover, such books look impressive on a coffee table or book shelf.
The technology and infrastructure for editing and publishing photographs and documents is constantly improving. Laying-out photo books with hundreds of high resolution pictures is easier offline with a software client. Photo book software can be downloaded free from the websites of many photo book services, in the case of Printing-1 it installs together with Adobe Air. The photobook software can optimize the images, create the print files and smoothen the data exchange between the user’s PC and the lab’s server. There are many photo book services, in this photo book review we have compared two leading services for Windows, Mac OS and Linux:
|Web||UK: http://fotoinsight.co.uk/cewe-photo-books.htmlIE: http://fotoinsight.ie/cewe-photobooks.html||http://printing-1.co.uk/|
|Telephone number||01926 463117||support by email only|
|Formats, WxH, cm||Small photo books(300 dpi):
– Photo booklet 14×13 cm
– Compact 19×15 cm, landscape, softcover or hardcover
– Square Photo book 21×21 cm, with soft, hard or linen cover
Large books(200 gr/m²; 300 dpi):
– Booklet, portrait 20.5×27 cm
– Portrait 21 x 28 cm, with soft, hard and/or linen cover
– Hardcover panorama 28×21 cm
– XL 30×30 cm with picture hardcover, linen or faux leather
– XXL portrait 28×36 cm
– XXL panorama 42×30 cm
– XXL pan. faux leather 42x30cm
Glossy Photo Books
– Large Landscape
Photo paper albums(400 gr/m²)
– Square 21 x 21 cm
– Landscape 28 x 21 cm
– XL 30 x 30 cm
|Photo books (200 dpi):
– Pocket: 14.8 x 10.5 cm, staples or spiral
– Compact20.4×15 cm in hard- or softcover
– Original18.5×18.5 cm, staples, spiral, hard- or softcover or in leather
– Classic20.4×27 cm, hard-, softcover or leather
– Panorama29.7×21 cm, hardcover or in leather
– Maxi30×29.4 cm, linen, hardcover or in leather
– Premium40×30 cm, hardcover or in leather
|Number of pages||Booklets from 26 pages to photo books with up to 154 pages||12 pages pocket booklet to 250 pages books|
|Prices from||£5.99 / €7.95 (26 pages)||£7.95 (12 pages)|
|P&P||£3.99 / €3.99 per order||£4.90 per order (Europe £6.90, World £9,90)|
|Volume discounts||from 5 copies 3%
from 10 copies 5%
from 20 copies 10%
from 50 copies 15%
|from 5 copies 3%
from 10 copies 4%
from 15 copies 5%
|Additional pages||In steps of 8 pages||In steps of 12 pages (varies)|
|Image file formats||JPG, TIF, PNG, BMP||JPG|
|Photo book software||CEWE PHOTOBOOK S/W||myphotobook software|
|Delivery time||Varies from 3 to 8 working days depending on book type.
Hardcover arrived within 4 days, linen- and soft cover 3 days.
|Say “about 6-8 working days after payment with standard shipping”.
Needed between 6 and 7 calendar days.
|Print costs p/150cm²(surface of a 6″ x 4″ print)||14 – 39 pence
Economical: Photo booklet square and large, 26 pages
|10 – 64 pence
Cheapest: Photo book Classic with 144 pages, soft cover
|Pro||+ Best print quality
+ Crisp, easy to read text
+ 310 different formats (by cover, shape, size and paper type)
+ Photo Paper Albums
+ Free style and/or Layout Assistant (photo book in 3 minutes) options
+ All images are copied into a separate project folder, convenient for batch processing.
+ Share photo books on Facebook option
+ Imports pictures form Flickr, locr etc.
+ Can use all TrueType Fonts on the PCs
|+ Paper feels strong, good touch
+ Easy to use templates
+ Largest books with up to 250 pages
+ Outstandingly strong bound
+ Option for matt or glossy covers
+ Free online photo book sharing with direct print ordering
+ Ideal for presents: ships to different countries, including the USA
+ Most economical photo book in this review
|Contra||– From 26 to 154 pages max.
– Limited hi-gloss photo book range
|– Less flexible design
– Limited cover editing
|In general||Very easy to use and order. Completely free to lay-out and design, suitable for beginners and professionals. Convenient: the tools in the software can be used for photo calendars and gifts. Mid price segment and reasonable delivery times.||Template based layouts. Strong bound should make the books last forever. Sharing the photo book online and allowing others to order makes this the option for weddings, club and family events.|
The costs of a photo book compared to a 6″ x 4″ (10×15 cm) print: from 10 pence
Those photo books costing the least are the most expensive and vice versa … In order to compare the costs of photobooks with those of traditional photo prints based on a print area of 150 cm² (that is the area of a classic 6″x4″ or 10×15 cm print), we divided the cost of a photo book through the number of pages and broke it down to the comparison area of 10 x 15 cm. With FotoInsight the photo booklets are the most economical, costing £0.14 (per 150 cm²) for the booklets in square (21×21 cm) or large (20.5×27 cm) (from £9.99 per book). The most costly photo books at £0.37(per 150 cm²)are the ‘Square Photo Album Books’ on photographic paper in a hardcover(21×21 cm)with 26 pages (£29.99 per book). Printing-1 offers both, the most economical photo book at a cost of £0.10 forthe 150 cm²print area(the ‘photo book Classic 20.4×27 cm with 144 pages in a soft cover’) and the most expensive photo book in this review is at £0.64 printing costs (for the 10×15 cm comparison print area) in format ‘Pocket with 12 pages’ (price £7.95).
One may argue that comparing the cost of the print area of a traditional 6″x4″ fails to take into account all the editing features, endless flexibility to present images and choice of coversthat photo books provide. However, the print cost comparison proves that it is possible to create a large photo book with a durable cover, but that creating a photo book with few pages in an elaborate cover can be expensive. As a rule of thumb: additional pages reduce the relative printing costs, specially at Printing-1, where additional pages invariably reduce the relative costs.
The right book format
Choice makes life complicated. However, a few basic guidelines may help. If the images have been taken in low resolution or with a basic camera it is preferable to choose a smaller book size. Staple and ring binding are cheaper, but don’t really feel like a book. The linen covers provide the strongest and most lasting binding (channel bound). Choosing between an A4 size portrait or panorama format should depend on the type of images. The panorama formats are ideal to display landscape images. For individual portraits an A4 portrait format is best. XXL, Maxi and Premium are impressively large photo books for special occasions or projects, they are less suited for passing holiday snaps around the coffee table, unless it is a very large coffee table.
Photo album books on photographic paper
Photo album books on photographic paper are available from FotoInsight with up to 82 pages. Exposed photographic paper provides a silk finish and shows the finest details in bright colours.For the photo paper book special, finer photographic paper is glued together back to back and then bound. This results in noticeably stronger pages (400 gr/m² paper), which lay straight and flat, ideal for pictures that spread across double pages, which look better without a book bulge. The photo paper book looks less like a published coffee table photo book and more like a high end photo album. Photo paper books cost between 7.5% and 35% more than similar photo books printed using the Indigo process.
Hi-gloss photo books
Since 2009Printing-1 has offered all itsphoto books with a glossy option. According to information provided by the vendor, the“complete photo book pages are coated with anenvironmentally friendlyglossy varnish, … produced under the environmental protection norm ISO 14001, improving improved brilliance and detail”. In practise this makes the pages really glossy, but doesn’t improve detail. For an extra of 8% to 26% cost (depending on format and the number of pages) Printing-1 will seal the page surface with a glossy finish, which is supposed to protect the pictures from tear and wear. The cheapest high gloss photo book is the Printing-1 Classic with 144 pages in a softcover at 16 pence (6″x4″ equivalent print area). Glossy photo books are so popular, thatfor an extra cost of 2.5% – 25% (depending on the book format and the number of pages) three CEWE Photo Book models can now also be ordered with a PU glossy varnish.
Unfortunately none of the known photo book print services in Britain offer a recycled paper option. At least FotoInsight’s CEWE PHOTOBOOKS use FSC certified paper, where the Forest Stewardship Council controls that the paper has been sustainably sourced. The photo books from Printing-1 are produced under the environmental protection norm ISO 14001 and validated by the Social Carbon Methodology.
Hints & tips
Unlike prints from the domestic inkjet printer, photo books are expected to preserve vivid colours over generations. A photo book with pictures of a party or holidays preserves pleasant memories. The “Photobook Assistant” option in the FotoInsight Designer software can create a photo book in even less than the 3 minutes claimed. Though taking the time to edit a photo book page by page helps to best distribute the images, pick the right backgrounds and to write descriptive texts; it is also extremely rewarding once the finished book arrives.
Internet or shop collection
The software applications mentioned in this review are used in similar form by other online photo services, actually more than half of all photo books in the whole of Europe are designed with the software applications we reviewed here or their variations. The CEWE PHOTOBOOK software is for example also available through Jessops and from several photographic retailers. Users wanting to avoid the effort and costs of a shop collection will do well with one of the online specialists in this test.
Which photo book service is the best?
Both services compared here work through software that has to be downloaded and installed first. This makes it easier to create a photo book in steps over several days, before transmitting a print file to the photo lab. Users who only want to make a little booklet will find web based photo book editing as offered by Snapfish, Photobox or Kodak useful. However, web based photo book editing is not recommend for larger photo book projects. The photo book applications compared above are quite different from each other and preferences depend on the user’s expectations and objectives (e.g. flexibility, online photo book-sharing, time constraints). Both photo book services tested here offer print quality which should provide lasting pleasure; however, due the greater design flexibility, the more intuitive interface and higher print resolutionFotoInsight http://fotoinsight.co.uk/ wins this photo book review.