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Albumprinter Hardback Photobook Review - Want to create a book of photos, a calendar, flip-book, softback or hardback? Duncan Evans assesses the online service that provides the technology behind Tesco’s branding.
To start go to the website and click on Start
to download the 14Mb design program. You only
need do this once.
No, online printing is not a new service, but the market for photobooks, hardbacked, 30 pages, for around £30 certainly is. It’s only recently that developments in printing technology have made it possible for the man in the street to produce and order a one-off, personal photobook, for an affordable price. For commercial photographers it offers the opportunity, especially in the wedding market, to offer something new, that’s good quality, at a low price.
Albumprinter are the people behind the service that is offered by not only Tesco online, but other supermarkets as well. It’s just that Tesco are happy to admit the association. You can go design and print everything via the Tesco website, or you can go straight to the horses mouth at the Albumprinter website, click on the English flag in the corner and design and order directly. The prices are in Euros, but any credit card will do the conversion for you, and this is where your Tesco order ends up anyway. Albumprinter is a dedicated facility near Amsterdamn, where HP Indigo printing machines labour night and day to produce your memories. Turnaround time from getting your order in? Around three days and it will be in the post back to you, complete with an e-mail confirmation to say it’s shipping.
The first thing to do is log on to the website, click on the Start button and download the editor. This is a 14Mb file, which will then install and run the editor. It leaves an icon on the desktop so you can use it again next time. There’s a wide choice of photobooks, softback and hardbacked, and calendars to choose from, each with page sizes and prices. The biggest is the 30-page, 30cm square photobook for €44.95 right down to the pocket size 9.6cm square book for just €9.95. Select the one you want and then enter its name and whether you want to fill it automatically or go the manual route and design it.
you want to create with your photos, then
select automatic or manual design.
Opting for the manual route brings up the page design element, but helpfully, whatever format of book you selected, an existing design is loaded to help you along. This includes spaces for headlines, titles, text and pictures. You can move these around and change the format as you wish, but it’s handy to have them there to start with. On the left side of the design window is the file browser and this is used to navigate to where your pictures are stored. Once a folder has been found, the window pane underneath starts displaying optimised versions, which can take a while if there are lots of them. All the common file formats are covered so you don’t need to start converting things unless they are RAW files. From there, using a picture is as simple as dragging and dropping onto the page where it can be repositioned, resized and rotated if required. There can be the odd glitch when dealing with images though, with the top being cut off and there being no apparent way to move it within the picture frame itself. A press of the Delete button removes pictures from the design though so you don’t get stuck at any point.
There are a couple of neat tricks like adding shadows and settings pictures as the background then adding to them over the top as well. You can round off the corners of pictures and stack them too. There are also some background style borders to put on the pages as well, though these are best suited to family albums, rather than weddings for example.
Navigation to new pages, or back and forth between ones that already have content, is facilitated by the navigation pane underneath the design screen. It also updated with thumbnails of images loaded so it’s easy to see what you’ve done so far.
In case the prospect of changing a layout seems like too much effort then good news – there’s individual page layouts as well that can be applied singularly to a page, or across the whole book. That really does make adjusting and customising the design much easier and is vital as, in order to make it as simple as possible, there’s no text gadget to add text boxes – it’s on the drop down menu as an option. The good news is that they can be rotated around to any angle to make the design more dynamic. There are some stylistic effects that could be applied to the text, but what is perhaps more important is missing – a spell checker. You’ll have to ensure that you’ve spelt everything correctly yourself before clicking on the Send button. Also, as this is a program, you can save the design and come back to it later.
easy for anyone to design and layout their
photos. There are templates that can be applied
to every single page.
Now, what you’ve designed so far is the inside of the book, there’s still the covers to add. The basic price doesn’t include those, but if you want your own photo cover with a title it’s a modest €7.50 extra. Otherwise the software checks that you haven’t cropped text off, put boxes off pages and left pages empty. You need to click on a box to agree that any foul ups at this stage are all your fault which is fair enough. Then it’s just a question of filling in your name and addresses and payment details. Off it goes, uploading to the server. Obviously you wouldn’t want to do this via steam-powered modem, but otherwise, broadband people can expect it to go quite quickly, depending on the size of the book and the images involved.
About a week later the result should be sitting on your desk. The quality is very good, thanks to optimising the images once they’ve been forwarded to the Albumprinter facility. With everything from a small booklet of 6x4in. pictures, to a large 30-page hardbacked photobook and calendars, as well as variations to insert semi-translucent sheets and print on more glossy paper, there’s a bit of something for everyone from the home enthusiast to the photographer looking to add extra value to services but in a very cost effective manner.
Albumprinter Plus points:
Software is very easy to use
Picture handling just drag and drop
Wide variety of formats and materials
Your very own book of photos!
Very affordable for just one off projects
e-mail notification of delivery
Good quality finishing
Albumprinter Minus points:
Could do with a spell checker
English version of the site prices in Euros
Text design slightly slow
EASE OF USE:
VALUE FOR MONEY:
You can use the Albumprinter service either directly, go to the Albumprinter website to download the software, or via the Tesco online service.