The supermarket giant costs more than most and only provides glossy paper, but we were impressed by the quality of our prints.
Tesco might not be the first place you'd think of for quality photo developing, but this hasn't stopped the supermarket giant from expanding out into online photo processing, in much the way it's come to be involved in everything from pet insurance to banking.
Tesco Photo’s website doesn't look as polished as many of its rivals' sites, but it's refreshingly simple to use. There's a Java web upload interface, but no PC utilities, iPhone apps or options for importing galleries from other sites. Only JPEG images are guaranteed to be possible to browse and upload – our hefty TIFF files certainly weren't visible. Once your images are on the site, you can crop and rotate them, remove red eye and apply black and white or sepia modes; all very basic, but mostly useful.
Only glossy prints are available for standard photos, although Tesco is happy to sell you the usual range of photo-themed novelty items. You can order your images to be delivered in the post or sent, free of charge, to a participating branch of Tesco. Either way, delivery is quoted as seven working days – our prints arrived in four.
Unfortunately, if you hoped Tesco's cheap and cheerful ethos would extend to its photo printing service, you'll be disappointed. You get 40 free prints upon joining, but after that, each 6x4in print costs 20p, while 7x5in prints cost 25p each. Only Snappy Snaps and the Kodak instant printing machine in Boots cost more. Prices drop if you buy in bulk, though. Buy more than 100 and your 6x4in prints will be 10p each; more than 200 and they'll cost just 5p apiece.
When it comes to picture quality, Tesco's prints were among the favourites of our blind-test panel. They were vivid, but not too intensely coloured, with clean, natural tones that brought out the quality of light in our pictures. Black and white prints were strongly shaded and subtle colour variations in our other prints were easily visible. Some fine detail in our landscape photos was little too soft, but we generally had little to fault. Our test picture fared well in our four-month light exposure fade test, with minimal fading visible.
This is all good news, but can't make up for high prices if you're buying less than 100 prints, particularly when Bonusprint provides excellent quality for less. Tesco also gives you far less choice than most other printers, both in how you upload your images and in that paper types you available to choose from.
Limited Edition Prints
Over the last year or so Art Business News has had some very good articles on producing and publishing limited editions and on copyrights for artists. If you are represented and published by a gallery, publisher or agent, pay close attention to exactly what is published and how it is numbered. For example, if your agreement is an edition of 250, and they produce and sell 100 additional "artists proofs" of the same image, it could compromise your reputation and integrity. In setting an edition limit, consider if you want to market the same image in different sizes and materials. And ensure any agreement you enter provides for a regular inventory report to you on what's been published and sold