The best providers according to Stiftung Warentest

There are numerous providers on the net for creating a photo book, which often differ in small but important points. GIGA presents you the best photo book services for 2021.

Purchase advice

A picture is worth a thousand words! And a whole book full of pictures can tell a lot more – for example as a Christmas present for grandparents. Where photo books were once made by hand, nowadays just a few clicks are enough and the individual album full of memories is in the mailbox a few days later. We have compiled the best providers for photo books 2021 for you and tell you which criteria you have to consider when creating your own photo book.

The Stiftung Warentest test winner: Lidl Picanova photo book

benefits

  • best price performance ratio

disadvantage

  • relatively long delivery time for the standard edition

In the 2020 photo book test, Stiftung Warentest selected the discounter Lidl as the test winner among 12 providers (final grade 2.0 – “good”). The supermarket chain not only delivers the best price-performance ratio, but also impresses with good image quality for the standard book and very good quality for the premium version. While the standard version is a digital print, the pictures in the premium photo book are photographed on real photo paper.

The standard version with 24 pages is available from 14.90 euros, but you have to accept the long delivery time of one week. In return, Lidl offers guaranteed delivery by Christmas for orders placed by December 18th. For the 26-page premium option, you pay 19.90 euros and only wait 3 days for the photo book. For a surcharge, the number of pages can be expanded to up to 250 pages.

Lidl offers 9 photo book sizes and 4 different bindings (Image: manufacturer)

When it comes to formats, you can choose between A4 and A5 in portrait and landscape format and A3 in landscape format. In addition, square formats (e.g. 20.5 × 20.5 cm and 30 × 30 cm) are available and in addition to various hard and soft covers, Lidl also offers spiral binding. You can design your photo album using the online editor or offline software. The desktop application, however, includes significantly more design options, as well as the function for temporarily storing the project. Other photo products such as posters, greeting cards or even mobile phone cases are also offered by Lidl.

The market leader: Cewe photo book

benefits

  • large variety of products with fast delivery times

disadvantage

  • design options are limited

Whether greeting cards, canvases, calendars or photo books: Cewe is the Europe-wide market leader in the field of photo services and, in addition to the common DIN A4 and DIN 5 formats, also offers small photo books in the sizes 14 × 13 cm, 15 × 11 cm and 21 × 21 cm. Both the standard and premium books have 26 pages. The former is available from 26.95 euros, the latter from 35.95 euros. In addition to the standard and premium matt version, Cewe also offers the option with a high-gloss finish. On top of that, you can choose between matt or glossy photo paper. With a delivery time of 2-3 days, the German company is also damn fast.

Photo book design software from Cewe (Image: manufacturer)

For the real photo books, Cewe uses the lay-flat binding in order to guarantee a flat display ratio for panorama photos. Aside from soft and hard covers, you can wrap your photo book in linen, leather or imitation leather covers. The design is done directly via the browser or using software available free of charge. A design assistant will help you design your photo book, but you can also design all the details on your own. The free program Cewe Photo Show also offers the function to improve photos, for example to correct red eyes.

The luxury version: Saal digital photo book

benefits

  • high quality with a wide range of design options

disadvantage

  • relatively high price

For ambitious hobby and professional photographers, the software from Digital hall as the ideal contact point for the creation of a photo book. Saal Digital’s photo books are only shown on real photo paper, which is why the company only offers premium photo books from 35.95 euros. With a total of 10 formats, you can choose between portrait, landscape and square formats from 12 × 12 cm to 42 × 28 cm. The standard number of pages is 26 and can be enlarged up to 160 pages if required.

Premium gift box from photo book supplier Saal Digital (Image: manufacturer)

High-end printing, padded envelopes and extensive material options for the cover. If you attach particular importance to the design and high-quality workmanship, Saal Digital is the right address. A protective case or a gift box are also available for a small additional charge. However, the photo books can only be designed using software or an app; this is not possible in the browser. We recommend using the software, as this is the only way you have access to all design options. However, if you create your photo album with programs such as Photoshop or InDesign, you can then simply send the file to the service provider and receive your premium book within 3 working days.

Photo book test 2021: This is how we chose

Given the enormous range of providers, the question of the best service for the creation of a photo book initially offers little clarity. However, so that you don’t have to go through each service individually, we have based this overview on our own experience, customer experiences and the ratings of external test institutions. Sources used: Stiftung Warentest (Edition 08/2020), Fotomagazin.de

Order a photo book: the most important criteria

Printing process

With regard to the printing process, a distinction is made between real photo and digital printing for photo books. The real photo book is equipped with pictures which are photographed on real photo paper and which are similar in quality to real photo prints.

Indigo WS6800p digital printing machine: Significantly larger and more powerful than the photo printer at home (Image: HP Development Company, LP)

The quality is lower with digital printing, since the color space and the image quality of the camera cannot be fully reproduced with the electrostatic printing process. Real photo books therefore score with better image quality and greater durability. On the other hand, the book pages are much thicker and the maximum number of pages is lower compared to the digital print book.

HP Sprocket Studio Photo Printer (10 x 15 cm prints)

HP Sprocket Studio Photo Printer (10 x 15 cm prints)

resolution

Depending on the size of your photo book or the desired size of your pictures, the requirements with regard to the image resolution differ. Pictures with a low resolution should not be photographed too large, otherwise unpleasant artifacts will occur and the picture quality will suffer. However, modern cameras shoot such high-resolution photos that even a double page in A4 format can be decorated with a photo of your choice without any problems. Most newer cell phone cameras with 10-12 megapixels are often sufficient for useful snapshots in good lighting conditions.

Xiaomi Mi 10 (8/128 GB)

Xiaomi Mi 10 (8/128 GB)

Format and paper

Which format you choose for your photo book is primarily a matter of taste. Be aware, however, that some formats are better than others for certain types or sizes of images. If you want to fill the photo book mainly with panoramic shots, a somewhat larger format is more suitable. In addition, the image impression also differs depending on the photo paper. With matt paper, the color impression is rather soft and the contrasts a little restrained. Motifs on glossy paper, on the other hand, appear more powerful and have a higher image sharpness, but are also prone to reflections and fingerprints. Ultimately, the choice of paper remains a matter of personal taste.

binding

In addition to the classic adhesive binding, there are other types of binding, such as spiral or lay-flat bindings. With spiral binding, the pages are punched and held together by a spiral wire like a college pad. The lay-flat binding, on the other hand, is a practical alternative, especially for large, cross-page photos. Because if, for example, one of the images extends over two pages, the classic adhesive binding can swallow part of the image. In order to avoid this faux pas, photo services offer those flat bindings that make the open photo book much flatter on the table.

image editing

Anyone who would like to subject their images to a brief processing can do so with almost any provider thanks to free software. Most photo book services also have automatic image optimization. This is intended to brighten images that are too dark or to sharpen blurred areas. However, this function cannot be switched off for all services, so that deliberately used stylistic devices are partially removed again. If you want to use images that have already been edited, you should go to a service that can deactivate this function if you wish. The same applies to automatic layout corrections, which can involuntarily undo manually generated design decisions.

Photo light soft box with 85W photo lamp and tripod

Photo light soft box with 85W photo lamp and tripod

privacy

When creating a photo book, not only personal data is transmitted during the ordering process, but also some very private photos. To ensure that these do not fall into the wrong hands, user accounts must be secured with a strong password. Providers who offer the option to create a password with only one character do not appear particularly serious in terms of security. So that your photo book doesn’t end up in the wrong mailbox, we recommend researching some information about the selected provider or taking a look at the data protection guidelines of the respective website before designing it.

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