Best Photo Calendar Service: Shutterfly

Shutterfly ($29.99 for an 11 x 8-inch calendar) is our Editors' Choice for creating a very attractive, highly personal calendar. While Shutterfly's interface isn't the most powerful or easiest to use, its clip art outshines all the others. Even more importantly, Shutterfly's photo reproduction is consistently lively and vibrant, the best among the calendar vendors tested.

Creating Your Calendar

Shutterfly's tabbed interface is generally logical and well-organized, with fully editable layouts, providing the tools to create a very personalized calendar. However, the Edit window and Customize Layout window are separate, which can be confusing. In other words, while you're working on your pictures, if you want to rotate a photo or move it, you have click into the Customize window, then back to Edit again to continue adding and editing your pictures.

One of the important edges Shutterfly has on the competition is the quality of this vendor's content (backgrounds, stickers, themes, etc.), and it has the most versatile and attractive clip art. Just be careful when choosing content, because some costs extra. Unfortunately, Shutterfly lacks a drop shadow for pictures and type. Otherwise, it has a nice though not large selection of photo effects, which includes Auto, Sunshine, B&W, Sepia, Vibrant, Vintage, Face, Redeye Removal and Rotation (in 90-degree increments) within the photo placeholder.

Clip art and backgrounds can be applied to the date grid page as well as the photo page. What's more, it's an easy matter to upload a photo to fill the date box of an event. For example, we filled the children's birthday dates with their pictures. But it works only on dates you create and not on the public holidays you select to add to your calendar.

The Printed Calendar

We were quite pleased with the quality of our printed Shutterfly calendar, which was by far the best-looking among those we created. Shutterfly's auto-correction algorithms created photos that were consistently nicely saturated, with very good color, exposure and detail. Skin tones in all the pictures were warm and appealing.

Credit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideCredit: Jeremy Lips / Tom's GuideOur jury gave perfect 10 ratings to several photo pages — January, February, June, November and December — for their great skin tones, dynamic range, vibrancy, saturation, and very good detail in both shadows and highlights. Even September's and October's generally problematic double photo layouts both rated 9 out of 10. The lowest ratings Shutterfly received were a couple of 8.5s for March and July, both of which had good skin tones but reduced contrast.

Calendar Options and Other Products Offered

Shutterfly has a nice range of calendars, including desk, poster, magnet, mouse pad, woodgrain and traditional paper. The traditional wall calendars (such as those we created) may be square (12 x 12 inches for $34.44) or landscape (11 x 8 inches for $24.99).

Shutterfly also offers photo printing on just about anything you can think of, such as cards and stationery, photo books, mugs, pillows and blankets, montage quilts, candles, phone and tablet cases, coasters, T-shirts, glass plates, tote bags, jigsaw puzzles, kids' growth charts, playing cards, magnets, luggage tags, and wall sconces. In addition to Shutterfly's well-known, inexpensive 4 x 6-inch prints, the company has a full selection of prints from wallet size up to 20 x 30-inch posters, with glossy or matte finish. You can also get large, gallery-wrapped canvas prints, metal and wood plaques, glass prints, and collage posters.

Bottom Line

Shutterfly is often the first website people go to for prints and photo products, because the service has learned how to provide what folks want in terms of fun tools, good quality and a great variety of products. While the vendor's calendar interface doesn't have as many options and the ease of use of Mixbook, it has the best clip art, great content and, in our tests, the best photo reproduction.

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  • PhodogCO
    Ugh, read reviews on Shutterfy before using. Their customer service has gone way downhill. They charge $40 for "guaranteed delivery date," which turns out only means your order is scheduled to be delivered on that date, but will likely not arrive in time. Customer service is not helpful, I called several times the day before a very important guaranteed delivery was scheduled to arrive and each time customer service gave me a different answer as to when the order would arrive at its destination; responses varied from 1-7 days. The guaranteed delivery order finally arrived 6 days after it was supposed to arrive. Customer service (via phone) has apparently been outsourced to a foreign country and you can expect to be disconnected at least once (though they will call you back). I believe live chat is now conducted via a programmed robot. Customer service can only follow a script; if your situation falls outside of a script you are out of luck. Very impersonal.
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