Shutterfly Photo Book Review: Nice Software, Lovely Book, Good Price

Shutterfly is often the first name people think of when ordering photo prints and other photo products. The company's photo-book software isn't the smoothest or easiest to use, but it has great content and functionality. And the result was quite lovely, as was its price.

Creating Your Book: Very nice content and flexibility, confusing interface

Shutterfly's software was flexible and creative, but it had a cumbersome workflow. Its large and varied libraries of templates, layouts, backgrounds and clip art were attractive and fully editable, giving us control over the placement, size and rotation of images and other page elements. We also had to be careful when choosing content, as many of the most appealing options entailed extra fees.

Shutterfly's interface divides the editing commands between two modes: the main window and the Advanced Editing window. Dragging and dropping photos and clip art onto pages worked well in either window. Similarly, clicking on a photo in either window immediately opened the effects options. But when we wanted to interactively reshape, move, resize and rotate the same photo (or any clip art or text placeholders), we had to go into Advanced Editing. This broke up our workflow and could be confusing.

Shutterfly had no drop shadows, and its photo effects were limited to a handful of one-click filters. The text tool had a nice variety of fonts and alignment options, and it previewed directly on our page as we typed.  

While the library of borders was large, it was limited to predefined colors and line widths (fine, medium or heavy). On the other hand, the Idea Pages tab offered a large selection of designed pages featuring very attractive layouts of backgrounds, clip art, decorative type, and placeholders for text and photos.

The Printed Book: Lovely book, good photo quality

Our Shutterfly book was lovely, though not on a par with AdoramaPix's excellent photo quality and beautiful book. Shutterfly's fine, textured endpapers were the nicest among all the books we created. The interior pages were attractive, vellum-like, medium-weight papers. The book had an overall nice feel, including good, secure binding (though it was a bit puckered on the exterior spine).

Overall, the pictures were sharp and had good clarity, great skin tones and rich contrast, with deep blacks and appropriately exposed highlights. Original details in shadows, highlights and midtones were well-reproduced. Exposure and color were rather attractive, though not vivid. Type was sharp and clean.

Price and Options

Our 8 x 8-inch, 20-page, hardbound Shutterfly book cost $29.99, which was significantly less than AdoramaPix's 8 x 8-inch book ($41.99). We could have added a dust jacket for $4.99 more. Shutterfly had a good selection of other hardbound-book sizes, ranging from 8 x 11 inches ($39.99) to 11 x 14 inches ($74.99). Softcover books started at $15.99 for a 7 x 9-inch book and went up to $29.99 for a 10 x 10-inch book. Other book options included lay-flat books and books with cloth, linen or leather covers and die-cut windows. Shutterfly frequently offers discount coupons.

MORE: Best Services for Creating and Printing Photo Books

The company has an extensive selection of other photo products available, including cards and stationery, calendars, playing cards, Christmas tree ornaments, coffee mugs, jewelry, pillows and blankets, and prints and posters of all sizes and types.

Bottom Line

Shutterfly created a very attractive photo book for a good price ($29.99). Our only complaint is that its software, while very flexible and paired with large, varied, searchable libraries of content, was cumbersome to use. Among the photo book services we tested, only AdoramaPix's was more beautiful than Shutterfly's — and AdoramaPix's software workflow was smoother — but the AdoramaPix book cost much more ($41.99). If price matters to you, and you don't care about spending a few more minutes creating your book, Shutterfly won't disappoint.

Specs

Import photos fromFacebook, Instagram, Flickr, SmugMug, Google Photos and your device
Templates & layoutsLarge and attractive library, fully editable. Some premium charges.
BackgroundsSearchable, large and attractive library. Some premium charges.
Clip artSearchable, large and attractive library, fully editable. Some premium charges.
TextCustomizable

Credit: Tom's Guide

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