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The UK Digital Photo Book Comparison - Articles Surfing

Everyone used to print pictures from films/negatives to stick them into an album, sharing it with friends or for simply preserving memories. With the marriage of digital photography and digital publishing technology, everything changed and the ability to publish photographs in a coffee table style book ('subsidy or vanity publishing' in legal terms) is now in reach of everyone with a digital camera, a computer and Internet access.

While the technology for online photo sharing and online documents progresses, preparing a real photo book with potentially hundreds of print resolution images and lines of text is better done offline. Photo book software is then able to optimize the files and the upload communication. Many photo book printing services are appearing in the UK; a comparison of two of the most compelling digital photo book contenders here:

FotoInsight at http://fotoinsight.co.uk/book

Support telephone 08700 114911

Book dimensions, WxH, inches

* Booklet small 5.5 x 5.1
* Booklet square 8.2 x 8.2
* Booklet large 8 x 10.6
* Soft cover square 8.2 x 8.2
* Soft cover large 8.2 x 11
* Linen square 8.2 x 8.2
* Linen large 8.2 x 11.8
* Hardcover square 8.2 x 8.2
* Hardcover large 8.2 x 11.8

Up to, number of pages
26 pages booklet to 98 pages book

Additional pages in steps of 8 pages

Book creation: CeWe Photo book software

Delivery time
State 'within a week'
Hardcover took eight days
Linen and soft cover took five days

Pros FotoInsight
+ Top print quality
+ sharp, easy to read texts
+ 64 different formats (covers, shapes and sizes)
+ free layout or quick assistant option (photo book in 3 minutes)
+ All images are copied into a separate project folder, convenient for batch processing.
+ Ideal for presents: ships to 32 European countries using a separate delivery address with no extra cost

- No rulers or aid for exact positioning of images
- No Mac Version
- Maximum 98 pages


Very easy to use and order. Completely flexible lay-out caters for everyone, from novice users to professional photographers (unless they want to use a Mac). Very competitively priced, reasonable delivery.

--- VERSUS ---

printing-1 at http://www.printing-1.co.uk
Support telephone: none

Book dimensions, WxH, inches
* Pocket: 5.8 x 4.1
* Compact 8 x 5.9
* Original 7.3 x 7.3
* Classic 8 x 10.6

Up to, number of pages
12 pages 'pocket' booklet to 144 pages book

Additional pages in steps of 12 or 24 pages

Book creation: MyPhotobook software

Delivery time
State 'approximately 12 working days'
Took between eleven and 14 days.

Pros printing-1
+ paper feels strong, good touch
+ Easy to use templates
+ Large books with up to 144 pages
+ outstanding, strong bound
+ Option for matt or glossy
+ online photo book sharing with direct print ordering
+ Also offer a MacOS version
+ Ideal for presents: ship to different countries, including the USA

- Layout editing is not completely flexible
- Can't save different versions
- Cover editing limited
- high price for small orders


Template based layouts allow for changes within limits. Strong bound should make the books last forever. The independent option for the Mac user. Sharing the photo book online and allowing others to order makes this the option for family events and Weddings.


Unlike computer prints photobooks will last for many generations. A photo book of family events or a holiday presents a personal memorybook. While the 'Assistant' Option in the CeWe Photo Book Software provided by FotoInsight can actually lay-out a photo book in less than the three minutes promised, taking more time, going back through the pages, adding some text and personal hints is highly recommended.

Less is More

Especially when images from several sources are being used (from friends cameras, mobile phones etc) it can be helpful to copy the image selection into a separate folder. Less is more applies for digital photo books, too. So skip poor or uninteresting images, as they will bore the spectator in a few years time. You may prepare some pages with many smaller images in scrapbook style and other pages with very few or even just a single image spreading over a double page, giving the reader a rest. Remember that preparing a coffee table style photo book is in now way different from publishing a book, which requires some proof reading, too.

Image editing

Avoid using hundreds of high-resolution images in one book as the computer might struggle with processing many large images. 200 ppi (in the corresponding format) is enough, it is not necessary to use jpegs larger than 1.5 MB, for most photos half a megabyte jpeg will do. Prepare entire pages as jpegs in Photoshop or other advanced editing packages to import these as a full page (page background) into the photo book.

Which service to use

Both services use software which needs to be downloaded and installed. This allows preparing the photo book offline in several sessions and optimizing the finished lay-out before uploading it for printing. Users who only want to make small books and are not comfortable with installing software may have a look at iPhoto, Snapfish or Kodak which offer a web browser based service. This however can not be recommended for larger, more elaborate books. The free software applications provided by the photo book printing services compared above use a different approach each and preference may depend on circumstances (e.g. Mac) and objectives (e.g. flexible lay-out, online sharing, time). Both FotoInsight as well as Printing-1 provide well printed and very enjoyable photo books.

Submitted by:

Catalina Martinez

Catalina Martinez is a mother of two children and has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, Denmark and the UK. She frequently writes about software start-ups, the internet society, photography and digital art.



Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).


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