The Adorama camera store in New York City has long catered to professional photographers who can be among the most discerning customers for equipment, supplies and print production. So it comes as no surprise that the company's online print service (Printique, formerly known as AdoramaPix) offers creative, flexible software, and some of the best photo books and photo calendars (we weren't as impressed with its photo card). However, Printique charges more than Mixbook, which is our favorite service when it comes to the best photo books, best photo calendars, and best photo cards.
|Overall Product Rating||Software Rating||Printed Product Rating|
What I liked
Printique's software is powerful, highly creative and fun to use. While the interfaces for photo books, cards and calendar have some differences, none of them have any surprises or gotchas. Navigation and tool controls are generally straight-forward and easy to master.
Nice library of attractive fully editable templates
Printique has a sizable library of attractive template designs for books and cards. (The number of calendar templates is more limited.) Though not as many or as varied as Shutterfly or Mixbook's, Printique's templates have a clean, minimalist look appropriate for their client base, which tends to be professional or serious photographers.
Regardless of which template you choose, you can fully customize your book, calendar or card, because all page elements are fully editable. Just click and drag to add photos, clip art, text block and other content to a page. And you can resize, reshape, rotate, move and delete photos, text, clip art and such.
Click to edit
It was a pleasure to not have to go hunting for the tools to modify photos or clip art. Just click on a picture to access all edit controls, such as borders, drop shadows and opacity controls, as well as resize, rotate, etc.
The width and color of drop shadows and borders are highly flexible yet simple, defined by a slider (for the width) and a color picker. My one objection was that I couldn't edit the direction of my drop shadows. But that limitation insures that all shadows in a project match.
The text tools in the book and card interfaces have similar controls, but the calendar interface has no text drop shadow, border or opacity.
Intelligent content organization
The enormous libraries of clip art, backgrounds and frames are organized into easy-to-understand descriptive categories, likebaby, birthday, dots, filigree, floral, etc. In addition, a search engine responds not just to set keywords, but also descriptive terms, such as a color. So, I had practically no difficulty finding the content I wanted for my projects. However, when I searched for a gradient background, the results included irrelevant images, like stripes and hearts. All the content used in a project is held in an "In This Book" sidebar for possible re-use.
Large selection of great cutout shapes
Printique has the widest and coolest selection of cutout shapes among all the print or photo services I've reviewed. These include all the letters in the alphabet, heraldic shields and freeform shapes, in addition to the ordinary hearts, triangles and circles. And the library has a search engine that I found quite responsive to my shape description keywords.
Full control over color
Wherever you want to add a color to your project (such as in text, solid backgrounds, borders or drop shadows), you have full control. You get a 24-bit palette, an eyedropper to pick up colors from the screen, and both Hex and RGB numerical values.
Useful global book and calendar settings
Like Picaboo, I was able to set global settings for my projects, which is a nice time-saver, at least for my book and calendar.
Printique's settings for book creation includes the default text (font, color and size), the size and color of drop shadows and borders, plus, if you wish, one specific background for all the pages.
The calendar global settings have fewer options: text font, color, size and style; shadow color and size for text, photos and clip art; a color fill for clip art; and size and color for photo borders. Additional calendar settings include 13 different-month grid styles.
The photo-card global settings aren't nearly as useful. They're limited to whether or not a grid would be overlaid onto the card and choosing its ruler (inches or pixels). But then the card has only two sides, and it would probably take as long to set up defaults as to do the edits on the page.
Direct edit of calendar-date boxes
Printique makes it much easier to edit calendars than Mixbook. Besides easily dragging and dropping a photo onto a calendar date, I could just double-click any date box to magnify it and work on it directly. There, I could add, delete or replace a photo, as well as pan, zoom and rotate it. While I didn't have access to the photo-editing tools, the full text tool was available, letting me control the font, color, size, alignment, position within the box, etc. When I was satisfied with the styling I had created, I could apply it to the entire calendar, this month only, or this date only.
What I disliked
Limited number of calendar templates
Considering how large Printique's content libraries are, I was surprised at the severely limited number of calendar templates. Although you can customize any template, it's helpful to start with one that's close to your vision.
No alternative layouts for cards or calendars
Although all elements in Printique's templates can be manually edited, alternative layouts and text placeholders are a great time-saver. Unfortunately, neither the card nor calendar interface offers these pre-designed pages.
Here are some of the layouts from the photo book interface, which are categorized by the number of photos, with holding areas for layouts used in the current spread and those that are attached to the selected template.
Printique didn't hold onto my color choices for shadow or border, nor does it have Mixbook's ability to apply a border or shadow choice to all the pictures in a page spread with a single click. On the other hand, you can copy/paste the style of a picture (which includes border and shadow settings) and either apply it to one other picture or to every picture in your book.
Surprisingly, the photo book's text tool wouldn't allow me to use quotation marks or cedillas, though I had no such difficulty when creating my card or calendar.
The printed projects
Printique's printed results were uneven. While the jury rated both the photo book and the calendar highly, the card received a much lower rating. We were so surprised by the card's quality that we ordered a reprint; unfortunately, it was nearly identical to the first.
The photo book
The book has a feeling of quality, with a clean binding, substantial paper weight and appealing smooth end papers. However, we saw signs of separation between pages, and there was too small a margin between the cover boards and the interior pages.
Overall, the photos were excellent, offering a sense of sparkle, good gradation of tone, an even color balance among the different skin tones and great detail in the shadows.
However, some of the lighter pictures were a bit washed out, and a few lost detail in bright areas. Type was solid, though with a very slight blur to the edges on the interior pages.
Printique's calendar is printed on thick luster paper rather than the card stock of most of the other calendars. Photos were vibrant and crisp with excellent color, details in shadows and highlights, good contrast and appealing skin tones. The type was solid and clean.
Given the professional quality of Printique's book and calendar, the card was a disappointment. Printed on a slightly textured medium-weight card stock, the pictures had good color, but were not crisp, and there was a loss of detail in darker shadows. Some text had blurred edges and didn't overlap the background perfectly. We ordered a reprint of Printique’s photo card, but still found it unsatisfactory.
Pricing and options
Printique is pricey, with the exception of the calendar. My 8 x 8-inch 20-page book cost $47.99. If I had chosen a fabric cover, the same book would have been $57.99, and to have a window cut into the front fabric cover to show an underlying photo would have been $56.99. I would have had to pay $88.99 to cover my book in leather "lux"; in real leather, $126.99. My book with a softcover would have been $19.99. Printique has a good number of square, landscape and portrait book sizes, including 6 x 4.5, 10 x 12.5, 12 x 12 and others.
I paid $24.49 for my 10 x 10-inch centerfold wall calendar. If I had ordered it as a 6 x 6 inch version, it would have cost $14.40, and an 8 x 8 version would have been $18.99. Printique also has a top-hanging 12 x 18-inch wall calendar for $32.99. An 8.27 x 3.74-inch desktop calendar costs $14.49, and a 12 x 5.43-inch is $21.99. Choosing luster or glossy paper doesn't affect the price.
My 5 x 7-inch card cost $4.99 each regardless of how many cards ordered. That price remains constant even if you design your card with special trim (such as rounded corners, bracket-shaped or tabbed) which costs more with other services. Also included is my choice of paper: pearlized white, "royal felt" white, linen white or matte white. It's the same price for other card sizes and styles: 5 x 5-inch flat or folded, 4 x 8-inch flat, 5 x 7-inch folded or 8.5 x 11-inch folded. White envelopes are also included.
Printique doesn't have Shutterfly's variety of photo-novelty items. Instead, it focuses on prints and posters (including framed, canvas wrap and on metal), as well as albums, books, cards and calendars.
Printique (formerly known as AdoramaPix) is a very good choice for making creative, attractive photo books and calendars. The software is versatile, flexible and fun. However, the card's photo quality was disappointing, especially compared with the book and calendar. Among services such as this, Mixbook also provides a great degree of flexibility when creating products, its printed products are among the best, and it's less expensive than Printique. But it you want a more luxe photo book, Printique should be on your short list.