EDIT: I’ve just been made aware that somehow my order from SmugMug went to EZ Prints instead of Bay Photo like I’d intended. Still don’t know if this is my own error or not, but I’ve amended this post to be EZ Prints vs. Mpix until I get an order in from Bay.
Although print sales have never been an serious source of income for me, I’ve been recently encouraged to make more of my art prints available for purchase. While I’ve sold a few prints via my SmugMug Professional account, because I did not promote the sale galleries, I have had very few print sales over the last few years. Recently, I have also heard from friends and peers that Zenfolio‘s print store system was more user-friendly, and so in an effort to decide which service I want to use for print sales, I did some light research. One friend had ordered prints from both me, who uses SmugMug, and another friend who uses Zenfolio, and said that she had observed that while she hadn’t ordered identical prints, the Zenfolio prints seemed to be better quality. While I intend to always have a SmugMug account for all my image-storage and hosting needs, I figured out that I can downgrade to Smugmug Power and register for the Zenfolio Premium account for only $10 more than I am already paying for SmugMug Professional. After all, I just want to offer my clients and customers the best quality possible!
With that said, I turned my attention to the print companies used by each image hosting service: SmugMug primarily uses Bay Photo, and Zenfolio prints through MPix. Because I already have a SmugMug account, ordering the Bay Photo prints was easy, but because I do not yet have a Zenfolio account, I needed to order through the Mpix site itself, which was slightly more complicated. (Note: Ordering through a Zenfolio store is much easier!)
Disclaimers: While my photos of the prints are not consistent, I did sit down and carefully examine each set, and my judgments are based on personal observation, not the digital photographs.