Why leave home to have digital photos processed when online services can organize, store, print, and deliver them to your mailbox? We had six amateur snaphots developed through five Web sites. Staffers from The Washingtonian's photography and production departments then compared the results.
1. Snapfish (snapfish.com). Snapfish provides the first 20 prints free; normally they're 12 cents per four-by-six-inch print. Not only were these photos among the cheapest–our only charge was $1.53 for tax and shipping–but they arrived in two days. "The colors are true," one of our experts said. "The whites are actually white, and there's good contrast." Snapfish has opened its first store–in Alexandria's Bradlee Shopping Center (3618 King St.; 703-379-6206)–where you can pick up prints if you don't want them mailed.
2. America Online's You've Got Pictures (pictures.aol.com). This service is especially easy for AOL users. At 19 cents per four-by-six print, the total came to $2.73 including tax and delivery. These pictures, like those from Snapfish, arrived in two days and were deemed a close runner-up in quality. Judges said the colors weren't quite as realistic, and there wasn't as much contrast.
3. Target Photo Center (target.com/photo). Target's photo site, an offshoot of Yahoo Photo, gives you 20 four-by-six prints free, then charges 15 cents each. Our total was $1.69, and they arrived in three days. Some prints were okay, but others were marred by too much of a bluish tint.
The fourth-place finisher was Shutterfly (shutterfly.com), which charged 29 cents per four-by-six print for a total of $3.53. Color balance was poor in these pictures. In last place was Kodak EasyShare (kodakgallery.com)–formerly Ofoto–which charged 15 cents per print, for a total of $2.44. One reviewer said Kodak's prints were "very yellow" and "washed out."
Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.