You take photos, right? You put them all on your computer, and probably upload them to places like Flickr or Picasa, right? Do you feel like you’re missing something? Something physical?
An actual photograph perhaps?
This missing element is what new Bay Area startup PicPlum is aiming to fill - provide that seemingly lost satisfaction of holding and sharing an actual photograph.
The overall focus behind PicPlum is simplicity and quality in the process of printing and sharing photo prints. I don’t think there’s an easier way to make and send photo prints to yourself or a loved one. Just upload your best selection of photos and PicPlum will print and send your photos on their way. Automatically. You don’t have to do anything else. And as for quality, the printing process uses [LightJet] printers on high-quality, non-glossy-yet-non-matte “lustre” paper. The photos look great…for the most part* (more on that later).
By default, PicPlum works as a subscription service. For $7 a month, you get a batch of up to 15 prints each sent to whomever month. You can also do a pay-as-you-go plan, as well as paying a bit more each time you want to go over your monthly 15 ($1.50 for shipping and $0.50 per print).
And while PicPlum is currently focused on targeting new parents and parents with young children, it certainly applies to other people as well. I am approaching this review as a photography enthusiast that simply wants to have some lovely prints of my favorite photos that I take. (I find it quite serendipitous that the weekend I decide to experiment with and old film camera, is the same weekend that PicPlum launched.) Prints from every camera now!
And my first batch arrived in the mail today.
As described, the 4” x 6” prints came in a nice, dare I say, plum-colored envelope. Itself was protected by a stiff cardboard envelope to prevent bending. My photos arrived in ship-shape - no bends, tears or any damage.
Most of the photo prints looked fantastic. The printing process, as described, was very high quality and you can’t see any digital artifacting or dot pattern from the printer.
I uploaded a variety of photos, most being color, but I slipped in a few black and white photos as well. The black and white photos came out brilliantly. I love black and white photos, so it’s nice to find that this service is not color-only.
Now, did you happen to catch that little asterisk I wrote earlier? Yes, not all the photos looked great, unfortunately. And, good thing for PicPlum, I think the issue was more to do with they way certain photos were shot and edited than the printing process.
I had a few photos that had a pretty strong blue gradient in the sky due to the angle of the sun, as well as one photo that I added some vignetting. I think the strong gradient of these colors, the saturation level of the digital photo, and perhaps some color saturation in the printing process itself caused the printer(s) to reach it’s limit on color level graduations. That’s the best way I can describe it. Now I don’t know what printer(s) were used, so I have no way to verify this. It’s just my preliminary judgement.
( ^ digital version)
( ^ print version - disregard the dust. I never use my scanner!)
Notice how the vignetting is not a smooth gradient in the print version like it is in the digital version.
( ^ digital version)
( ^ print version)
In this comparison, notice how the blue in the sky, again, doesn’t have a smooth gradient in the print version. The print version seems a bit over-saturated.
Overall, I am very pleased with the experience and the quality of the prints, and I plan to continue to use the service for the time being. Time will tell if I continue with the subscription or bump down to the pay-as-you-use-it account. From what I’ve seen, as long as you watch how the much the saturation levels of the digital photo and how color levels change in big open spaces, such as the sky, your prints should come out looking fantastic.
Verdict: PicPlum gets an A.