I decided that I'm going to review the different companies I've used (Shutterfly, MyPublisher, AdoramaPix, and Blurb) and the different kinds of products I've made (photo books, greeting cards, and calendars).
I started last week with my Shutterfly Calendar Review, and today I want to show you the photo book I recently made with AdoramaPix. It was also a Christmas gift, one for my sister and her husband of their engagement photos.
As I've mentioned before, I've made most of my photo books with Shutterfly. I was excited to branch out and try a new company with AdoramaPix. They're different from Shutterfly in that they use real photo paper for their pages (resulting in very nice pictures and really thick, sturdy pages) and they sell only layflat photo books. (A layflat book is just that - a book that lays flat when open. There's no "page curl" in the middle of the book. (This picture illustrates it nicely.)) So, here's what I thought of AdoramaPix!
I really liked the cover. It was very thick and sturdy and had a cool metallic sheen to it.
Front end pages:
A lot of the different reviews of AdoramaPix that I read said that there were no end pages in the photobooks, and that if you wanted endpages you'd have to leave a blank spread. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I opened up the book and there were nice black end pages in both the front and back of the book. They must have changed it at some point due to demand. So, to repeat: you do not have to leave any blank spreads to get end pages in an AdoramaPix photobook. The end pages are already there.
Here's one of the spreads, and a different view of the layflat pages:
Notice that there's no gutter; the pages (and pictures) are continuous. This allows you to do some really cool, unique spreads with pictures stretching over both pages.
Here's an up-close shot of the layflat pages. AdoramaPix recommends not putting something important like a person's face in the fold, and I can see why. I probably wouldn't do it again, although it's really not too distracting:
Here's a couple of shots that illustrate how thick the pages are:
This page is standing up on its own. It's so thick that it can just balance there. That's pretty impressive!
Here's a comparison of Shutterfly page thickness (on the left) and AdoramaPix page thickness (on the right):
Another view of how flat the book lays:
Back end pages:
Notice that there are fingerprints on the left page:
I've never had Shutterfly pages pick up or show fingerprints, but as AdoramaPix is real photo paper it is going to pick up fingerprints, especially on darker pages. So, expect that, and handle pages carefully.
And finally, the back cover:
A Shutterfly book on the left, with the AdoramaPix book on the right:
I like that there's no bar code on the AdoramaPix back cover.
Here's a comparison shot of a Shutterfly book (on top) and the AdoramaPix book (on bottom:
You can really see how thick the AdoramaPix book is here. That's a standard 8x8 twenty-page Shutterfly book on top, while the AdoramaPix book has only fourteen pages and is still a lot thicker than the Shutterfly book.
Book stats: 8"x8", 14 pages
Software: Very good, very easy to use. They have good layouts to choose from, and the layouts are also fully customizable.
Paper quality: Top notch. The pages were extremely thick and sturdy, and had a nice sheen to them. They also had a kind of texture to them, though, which seemed to blur fine picture detail.
Print quality: Really good, although some of the detail of the pictures was lost in the sheen and texture of the page. The pictures were also darker than they appear on my computer screen; if I were to make another book with AdoramaPix, I would brighten the images before putting them in the photo book.
Cover quality: Again, really good. The cover was very thick and had a cool metallic sheen. Again, though, some of the photo detail was lost in the texture and the sheen.
Prices: Much higher than some other companies, and AdoramaPix runs fewer deals. A 14-page 8"x8"AdoramaPix book (without shipping) costs $25.95, a 26-page 8"x8" book (without shipping) costs $41.95. I bought the 14-page 8"x8" book on sale for $14.95. By comparison, a 20-page 8"x8" Shutterfly book costs $29.99 without shipping, and they very often have sales where you can get anywhere from 30-50% off.
Overall thoughts: The book was obviously high quality. The thick cover and pages with the sheen and the real photo paper look nice. However, I did wish that the pictures looked a bit sharper - fine picture details were lost in the texture of the page. I was considering making my wedding photo album with AdoramaPix, but for this reason, I think I'll make it with another company. I really want my wedding pictures to look nice and crisp. But, this book was very nice and made an excellent gift.
Another imporant side note: Because of the way they bind their layflat pages, AdoramaPix offers very specific page counts in their photo books. For example, in the 8"x8" size you can choose 14 pages, 26 pages, 38 pages, 50 pages, or 76 pages - but nothing in between. That's another reason I'm going to do my wedding photo album with a different company; although AdoramaPix would lend a nice gravitas to the book, I really want to use more pictures than I can fit in 76 pages.
And that's what I thought of AdoramaPix!
To check out more of my photo book reviews, check out these posts:
Shutterfly Photobook Review
Shutterfly Premium Leather Layflat Photo Book Review
Shutterfly Calendar Review
York Photo Photo Book Review
MyPublisher Photo Book Review
Collage.com Photo Book Review
Photo Book Comparisons