Head to head: Online Photo Sharing Sites

Digital cameras let you unleash your inner Ansel Adams, but what you do with the pictures you take afterward is another story. To help you get the most out of your digital camera, we looked at five online photo-finishing services that let you store and share your shots, as well as buy prints and merchandise.

Kodak Gallery
In addition to its wide assortment of photo-friendly merchandise (which includes mugs and calendars), Kodak Gallery's Designer Boutique lets you create cards and books of your photos using templates from top designers and firms, including Martha Stewart and Simon+Kabuki. Plus, you can pick up your prints at your local CVS, Rite Aid, or Target, or have Kodak mail them directly to you.
Pricing: A 4x6 print costs 15 cents, and other sizes range from 84 cents to $18.99.

DotPhoto, a privately-held company, looks the least polished of the five services we looked at, but the website is nonetheless easy to navigate. The merchandise offered is fairly basic, ranging from calendars to mugs and posters. We particularly liked the site's selection of bags and purses. New features include the EuroBook software for easily creating hard-bound photo books and products. Movie fans take note: DotPhoto also allows you to create photo gifts based on the movie Batman: The Dark Knight.
Pricing: DotPhoto charges 9 cents for a 4x6 print, but the largest print size they offer is 8x10 for $2.89.

What started off as Seattle Filmworks 25 years ago, Photoworks was recently acquired by American Greetings, the world's largest greeting card company. Besides the usual offerings of merchandise and prints, Photoworks also offers a film service that let you send in a roll of film for processing (the other four companies also offer a similar service), which can then be turned into framed prints or stored in photo albums. Photoworks also has a Community feature that lets you share topic-based photos with other users.
Pricing: A 4x6 photo costs 9 cents, and a large 24x36 print costs $34.95.

Owned by computer and printer giant Hewlett-Packard, Snapfish lets you upload your camera phone photos via e-mail, and print them on photo paper or merchandise. Like all the sites we reviewed, Snapfish is easy to navigate, although it doesn't offer anything compelling to make it a standout in terms of merchandising. However, thanks to a partnership with Stamps.com, it lets you print stamps using your favorite photos.
Pricing: Snapfish charges 9 cents for a 4x6 print, which is on par with most of the services. An 8x10 costs $2.99.

York Photo
Compare York's website to Snapfish's, and you'll begin to wonder whether the two companies are related. (They were at one point, but Snapfish is now under the HP brand.) Nevertheless, York's interface and merchandise looks oddly similar to Snapfish's offerings. Like DotPhoto, what York lacks is the backing of a major company, although York says it has been in the film-developing business for 60 years.
Pricing: A 4x6 print costs 8 cents, with larger 8x10 prints at $2.99.

dealnews Pick: Kodak Gallery
Despite a higher price for single 4x6 prints, Kodak Gallery offers competitive prices — oftentimes lower — for single prints in other sizes. Kodak Gallery's range of merchandise is also more impressive than the competitions'. Photoworks and Snapfish get honorable mention, but Kodak edges out its competitors thanks to a tie-in with Kodak cameras and technology, and the option of letting you pick up prints at your local pharmacy.

Ending note: All of these sites offer discounts, ranging from free prints for new customers to a percentage off your entire purchase. Check out the dealnews Photo Services archive and dealcoupon for recurring promotions, coupon codes, and discounts that can shave some cash off your prints and other merchandise.

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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