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How can I develop my photos online?

Developing your photos online is an easy way to convert your digital photos into actual printed photos. All you need is a web browser and a fast internet connection (DSL or cable), and you'll be able to upload your photos and received your developed prints within a couple of days. You can also upload photos to your local Walmart or Target store and go pick them up in an hour, or share them online free of charge.

Digital photos can be stored on numerous devices such as a camera, cell phone, flash drive, CDROM, DVD, and even your hard drive. I have thousands of pictures on my hard drive that I've taken with our Nikon D50, my daughter's Nikon Coolpix, and my Razr cell phone. I used to have to take a flash drive or CDROM over to Costco or Target to have them developed, but now I can just upload them online to one of the photo development services listed below.

Here are a few online photo processing services worth looking at, along with my recommendation on which one is the best to use:

  • Target Photo Center

    Target Photo CenterI'll start with my favorite online photo processing service - the Target Photo Center. There's a Target in almost every major city and many smaller cities, and there happens to be one about 5 minutes from my home. I can upload prints to Target from my computer and go pick them up in about an hour, and this is the option I usually use.

    Target provides free unlimited online photo storage and sharing, so I can upload my prints and then send a link to my friends. They can view my pictures securely online and then purchase the prints they want to keep. You can even create a slideshow and email the slideshow link to your friends - a very slick feature.

    Target uses high quality Kodak film and offers 20 free prints for first time customers (15 cents each after that). Their web page lets you edit your pictures online as well, including cropping, removing red-eye, adding borders and more. They also have easy tools that teach you how to to tile a mug, canvas a picture, make a tote smile, etc.

  • Snapfish

    Snapfish lets you print, share and store your favorite memories online at competitive prices for both digital and film camera users. Here's a list of their services and promotions:

    20 Free Prints plus a free photo mug, 12c• Prints as low as 10¢ with their prepaid plans
    • Quality digital camera prints for just 12¢ everyday
    • FREE online photo sharing
    • FREE unlimited online storage
    • One roll of film developed FREE
    • FREE photo editing tools & software
    • Over 90 custom photo gifts
    Special Promo: One Free photo mug and 20 Free digital camera prints (a great Father's Day gift)

    With 34 million members and more than 1 billion photos online, Snapfish by HP, has been voted the Winner of Editor’s Choice awards from GoodHousekeeping, PCMagazine, MacWorld and Laptop Magazine.

  • PhotoWorks

    PhotoWorks allows customers to turn their digital photographs into one-of-a-kind products such as photo-books, holiday cards, calendars and of course brilliant prints. They have an equally impressive list of services and promotions:

    25 Free 4x6 Prints
    • FREE online photo sharing
    Photo Cards (great for Holidays or announcements)
    Photo Calendars (your family photos on each month's calendar)
    Photo Mugs
    • Kodak PerfectTouch for richer details, more vibrant colors, and fewer dark shadows.
    • Volume discounts. You can save money when you place a single order which includes the appropriate quantity of digital prints in the same print size. As an example, if you order 500 4x6 prints, the prints would be 12 cents each. However, If you ordered 250 4x6 prints and 250 3.5x5 prints, the digital prints would be billed at 15 cents each even though you ordered 500 prints total.

  • Walmart

    While each print is just a couple cents more, you won't have to pay for shipping and you'll be able to pick up your prints from your local Walmart in an hour. Walmart has all the same goodies as the other guys, with free online photo sharing and over 100 gift ideas for your photos (coffee mugs, mouse pads, calendars, aprons, decks of card, etc).

    Walmart's development price is still low with 1 Hour 4x6 Prints only $0.15 each. You can upload your prints to Walmart's system using a web browser or by emailing them, and you can choose the store you want to pick them up from.

    Walmart prints on high quality Fuji paper and they provide unlimited stored of your digital images (as long as you order as little as one print a year). So you can keep an archive of family holiday and birthday photos online and easily share them with friends and family.

Which service do I recommend?

Target or Walmart has a slight edge in that you can pick up your prints in about an hour if you live near a store like I do, but you'll have to spend a little more money for the convenience and it's only an advantage if you live close to a store. With rising gas prices, having to pay a couple dollars for shipping can easily be a better value than driving across town to a local store.

Fortunately for you the consumer, each service offers about the same features... free photo sharing, free prints for new users, plenty of gift ideas, etc. It reminds me of broadband internet companies who are all offering similar services with similar pricing - but with one KEY difference:

You can sign up to all of them for free and take advantage of whatever promotions each one offers. There are no monthly fees for any of these services - you only pay when you actually have photos developed.

If Snapfish decides to run a special discounted promotion, then you can use Snapfish that month. If the next month PhotoWorks decides to sell their photo calendars for 50% off, then you can use that promotion. You get the idea...

And since they all offer free online photo sharing and unlimited photo storage, you'll always be able to send a link to your friends and family so they can see your latest shots online.

So my recommendation is to sign up with all of them and take advantage of the promotions that each service offers.

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