A friend of mine gave me a gift of a free 16″x20″ print from Metalpixs.com. I have been very happy with metal prints in general. Not only are they unique, but I don’t have to go through the process of getting a frame and mounting. I take the print out of the box, decide where I want it, hang on the wall, done. Yes, it is that easy. So when I got the free print I was happy to get it. I have been using BayPhoto through my SmugMug Pro account.
After dealing with Metalpixs, I can say I am extremely happy with the results from Bay Photo and SmugMug and I am even happier with the entire process. I will not go through the hassle of using Metalpixs again.
The picture I decided to get printed on metal is this one:
A pretty cool photo I took last year while at Disneyland California. I have gotten a few prints on metal and thought that this would be a good one as the “glint” would allow for a little more depth and make the fireworks pop a little more. I realize that there are some things in there that were not ideal but there was a time constraint since the printing was being done with a coupon. The picture started at 3888×2592 and was cropped to 1672 x 2090 I ran it through Nik Software Dfine to reduce the noise and I brightened it up a little to be ready to print.
I uploaded the photo and placed the order with the option of rounded corners and mounting blocks on August 21, 2011. I received an upload confirmation email so I thought I was all set.On September 2, I received an e-mail indicating, “Unfortunately, you [sic] image was corrupted during your download and did not upload properly or didn’t come through at all.” The phrasing is a little odd but these things happen. I received a “proof” the next business day to me it was more of just confirming that things were associated correctly as there was no profile or change to the image. The body of the e-mail was offers of additional finishing that was available to me. I ordered most of these finishing options, hanging hardware and corner rounding, when I placed the original order. I responded I had already selected the finishing options. These finishing options are included at no additional charge on the Bay Photo prints ordered through SmugMug.
I received a reply on September 7 that it would take 8 to 10 business days for the order to ship. On September 22 I received a mass e-mail sent to no one, there was no recipient in the To e-mail field, and a salutation of “Customer”, indicating that there was a delay of 15-20 days. These things happen the Groupon I was given might have just overwhelmed them. On Septemer 26 I received a UPS notification that the package was on its way and would arrive on September 30, which it did.When the print arrived, it was as they indicated it would be in their documentation.
However I was surprised at how different it was from the prints I had done through SmugMug before. The first thing I noticed was how thin the print is. The metal is 0.030″ as called out in the FAQ, that is about 1/32 of an inch. To provide an idea of how thin that is, it flexes in the breeze of an oscillating fan. The Bay Photo print is about twice as thick. I even asked the SmugMug Heroes and they didn’t even blink and made the measurement for me.
I was also surprised by the actual print quality from Metalpixs. I know that my print preparation has not always been perfect but thanks to experience and the help from the SmugMug folks, I know what to do to prepare the image for printing. I have had success with SmugMug and BayPhoto. The issues I am seeing with the Metalpixs print have less to do with prep and more to do with overall quality. The tone and color is not even through out the image. The smoke in the middle left of the image looks more like a smudge and has steps in the gradation.
Just like SmugMug, Metalpixs has a reprint guarantee. The print is hung in a fluorescent lit office with uneven lighting and white walls, it is more than adequate.The issue though is that it was such a hassle to get the print and not really having confidence in the vendor or the process. I just don’t have the patience to deal with Metalpixs.com again to get a print that might not really be any better.
The thing that finally sealed it for me though was that the printing price from SmugMug with the much better service and quality is less expensive than the frustrating service. Not a little less expensive, substantially less expensive; approximately 45% less. That is the part that amazes me. It wasn’t that there were differences it was that the differences were so dramatic and not solely related to the quality of service. How often do you get better service and quality for less money?