Walmart is known for offering products at lower prices than what you’d find elsewhere, and the chain’s photo printing service is no exception: It has the lowest prices for any in-store printing service we’ve tested, and it matches its lowest-price competitors when it comes to the cost of mailed prints. The image quality of the final product, too, may surprise you, despite the low price point, making Walmart a PCMag Editors’ Choice for budget photo printing, alongside Snapfish.
Pricing and Starting Up
Walmart offers three options: home delivery and site-to-store costs 9 cents per 4-by-6-inch print, and the 1-hour option costs 25 cents per 4-by-6. As you’d expect from the low-cost retail giant, those prices are lowest in class. For comparison, CVS Photo and Walgreens Photo charge 33 cents, and Target charges 31 cents for in-store prints. For mail order, Walmart’s 9 cents is the lowest price I’ve seen, matched by Amazon Prints, Snapfish, and York Photo Labs. Larger prints are also a bargain: 5-by-7s cost just 69 cents (tying Snapfish’s price), and 8-by-10s cost $1.79 each—the lowest price point at that size among all the services, tied with Amazon Prints.
Like Shutterfly and York Photo Labs, Walgreens lets you order a wide range of objects on which you can print your favorite photographs. In addition to the more commonplace cards, calendars, mugs, and photo books, you can choose blankets, phone cases, jewelry, canvas bags, and clothing. It’s a decent selection, but not quite as vast as the choices that Shutterfly and York offer. Those services will even let you adorn shower curtains and neckties with your pictures.
Walmart lets you import online photos from Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, and other services. You can also drag and drop from a folder on your desktop. The service only accepts JPG and PNG files, so no TIFFs or GIFs need apply. After you upload your photos, the site creates a gallery based on the date. This is better than the way CVS and RitzPix operate; those services require you to first create a gallery.
Choosing and Configuring Photos for Printing
The Walmart Photo site is clear and well designed. Choosing print sizes works the way I like it: You can select multiple prints and print sizes for each image in one step. You don’t have to go back through the process multiple times for each print size, as you do with CVS and Nations Photo Lab. Snapfish works much like Walmart does in this regard. Walmart’s mobile shopping app now offers easy photo uploading or ordering features from your smartphone, which closely mimics the process on the website. The app even offers rotation, brightness, and black-and-white options.
You get a choice of matte or glossy prints with Walmart, and that’s about it—no borders or mountings. During print-size selection, you see an Edit link for each image. This opens a simple editor with cropping, brightness, and tilt options. Here, you can also choose black-and-white or sepia treatments as well as full color. It’s not quite the repertoire offered by some other services, such as Winkflash, but if you really want to get fancy, you’ll use installed software like Lightroom or even macOS’ and Windows’ surprisingly powerful Photos apps.
For my order of 32 prints, shipping cost $4 for seven-day service and $7.99 for four-day delivery. Thankfully, you can pay with PayPal, to ease the checkout process, and you can easily switch an order among the three different delivery methods.
My test photo prints arrived just five days after I placed the order online, even though I chose seven-day shipping. That’s excellent, especially compared with RitzPix’s 10 days. My pictures were packaged in a standard overnight light cardboard envelope, with the 8-by-10 loose in the envelope. The packaging pales by comparison with AdoramaPix and Mpix’s sturdy cardboard boxes for the same order. Walmart’s shipping package is equivalent to what Shutterfly and Snapfish offer, and better than Amazon Prints’ and York Photo Labs’ thin paper envelopes. Nevertheless, some of the shots had curled edges due to the lack of protective packaging, and the 8-by-10 was loose in the overnight envelope.
Like many web photo services, Walmart uses Fuji Crystal Archive paper, which delivers good image quality. However, I prefer Kodak’s thicker, sturdier Endura paper, which is used by Nations Photo Lab and AdoramaPix, because it often produces even better image quality and is rated to 100 years (200 years in dark storage). Walmart prints an inscrutable number code with the date on the back of the photos—I prefer services that print the filename or a title on the back, as AdoramaPix and Shutterfly do.
So, what about the most important thing—the quality and accuracy of the printed images? This time, my Walmart test pictures looked excellent. In my test a couple years ago, a pinkish or reddish tinge affected many photo areas, but that’s all gone now. No spots like those on CVS prints mar my Walmart pictures, no streaking like that on one Target print, and the images are neither washed out or overly dark or saturated. No dark or light areas are discolored in the prints, as sometimes happens. In the mountain-scene photo above, you can see detail in the dark areas that’s obscured in the Target print, and the sky’s blue color isn’t exaggerated as it is in the CVS print.
Below, you can see that the red-hat portrait avoided Amazon’s washed-out appearance and CVS’s oversaturated look, nearly matching Editors’ Choice Mpix.
Photo albums are automatically shareable via an icon on the album page. You can share via Facebook or email. Your recipients get good, full-browser-window slideshow and the ability to download the pictures. It’s not quite as robust as Shutterfly’s customizable mini-websites, but it gets the job done. I do wish it let me opt to share a single image or selected photos rather than a full album, however.
Save Money, Get Decent Photographs
Walmart Photo provides a clear, capable web interface, prices on the low end of the spectrum, and fast shipping or even local store pickup. This time around the photo printing service delivered surprisingly fine image quality in test prints, too. The main downside is that the packaging, though better than that of some services (like Amazon and RitzPix), is less protective than the best. Walmart earns a PCMag Editors’ Choice for value photo printing alongside Snapfish. For high-quality photo finishing with more-protective packaging, but higher pricing, look to fellow PCMag Editors’ Choices, Mpix and AdoramaPix.