I’m skeptical if someone recommends me a new custom photo printing service. The editor of PhotoWorkout asked me to review Mixbook. Specifically, to do a Mixbook photo wall calendar review. I was skeptical.
And here is why: in my experience, the thing about online photo printers is that they don’t maintain the same quality. Over the entire range of products that the quality is a bit lousy. For example, a typical online photo printer may ship you a nice custom printed t-shirt or coffee mug and it may all look good at first, but quickly the ink starts to wear off.
This comes from experience having tried and tested a few online photo printers over the years. But it turns out, my Mixbook photo calendar experience was a good one 🙂 …
My Mixbook Photo Wall Calendar Experience
That said, the Mixbook calendars got rated as one of the best photo calendars from our experts who have tested the quality of their products. Also, Magan gave a good score to the Mixbook photo book reviewed earlier. This time we decided to check out the quality of their wall calendars a little bit more in depth.
The 8.5” x 11” calendar that I ordered on Mixbook was meant to be a showcase of my portfolio of images as well as a test of the Mixbook photo calendars printing quality.
For all those impatient types out there, let me acknowledge straightaway:
I was impressed with what I received in hand.
You can skip the rest of the article ;-).
For those who are technically minded who want to know more before they make that buying decision, there is more to it. Read on.
- Excellent print quality
- Very high resolution
- Good electronic to print transition with any loss of resolution
- Acceptable colors. The prints are a touch warmer (I guess around 500 ◦ K than the jpegs)
- Nice paper quality
- Costs more than the majority of the other online calendar options out there
- Extremely slow international delivery despite the stiff shipping cost they charge
- Shipped without any real-time tracking (at first)
Choice of Layouts
Before I start deliberating on the pros and cons of the calendar that I received, I must clear one doubt. Mixbook has a bunch of themes to choose from. At the time of writing this review, they had 77 fully customizable themes to choose from, including one where you can practically start from a clean slate and use that to build your own theme. Just pick a design and start boiling your calendar.
The Interface of Mixbook is very easy to use.
It’s undoubtedly one of the nicest and easiest of interfaces for calendar designing that I have come across in a while. It has tons of customization options. Everything is intuitive and you can get started right away without having to go through a lengthy tutorial first.
The customization functions available include changing the number of photos on each calendar page, rejig the layout of the cover page and enter your own events as well as custom holidays to give a completely personal look and feel to the calendar.
The eight photographs (I mixed four pages with two images each to complete the rest of the 12 pages of the calendar) that I uploaded were all shot using a DSLR and they were all high-resolution jpegs processed out of 14-bit RAW files. Each of these images has been processed in Lightroom.
Though I should admit that I have only done very little processing and almost zero retouching. Just white balance adjustment, exposure, and other global adjustments. No filters were used either.
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In one word, the quality of the calendar is excellent.
Not much seems to have gotten lost between the digital files I uploaded to Mixbook and what arrived at my door packed neatly inside the Australian post parcel.
It is difficult to capture the resolution of the printed photo wall calendar by scanning or capturing an image. However, I have attempted both. I scanned as well as made images with a DSLR of the printed calendar. Here is a side by side comparison of an original image and its printed version after scanning.
As you can see the resolution of the printed material as captured in the scan does not do justice to the actual quality of the prints. On the contrary, the DSLR capture is a better representation. Check this out:
Still, I don’t think either one is even close to capturing the quality of the printed calendar.
Colors are vibrant to the point that they look natural and almost the same as I had processed them on my computer. There are however slight variations between the results that I see on my computer and the printed calendar. This is obviously because of the difference in calibration of my computer screen and the printer that printed the material.
In anyways a 4-5% difference is not a deal breaker for me. Unless of course you are a perfectionist and your life depends on it, I don’t think you would be complaining either. In my case, I am happy with the results.
Blacks are very rich and very deep. Something that I liked very much as it increases the contrast of the images. Obviously, Mixbook is printing what they have been provided with but they reproduced it well.
I don’t have the exact specification of the paper type, including GSM, which they have used to print this calendar. But the quality is very good. It is not glossy but matte, which is my preferred paper type for most prints.
Though, in this case, this is not actually a print for framing but a calendar. But, I could still frame the individual images as if they were prints if I decided to. It is that good. The paper feels very smooth to the touch but sturdy and should survive the year without any issues.
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Shipping & Delivery Experience
My order was dispatched twice as the first package got lost in the mail.
I still don’t understand why it was shipped using Australian post when I paid $39.99 for Express shipping. As a matter of fact, I was not even given a tracking when the product was shipped. When I logged into my account I saw a message that says – “Tracking not available with selected shipping method.”
I waited for the order to arrive for more than the stipulated time frame and then got in touch with Mixbook’s customer support team. This gave me an opportunity to test their responsiveness. Needless to say, I am never too keen on testing customer support.
Thankfully, Mixbook does have a responsive customer support team and they do read your emails and reply back to them.
Three weeks since I placed the order I was intimated that my order is ‘lost’. They also intimated that they are reprinting my order and sending me a replacement immediately. Further, they mentioned that this is not the norm at Mixbook and that they are going to thoroughly investigate the matter.
While I was happy to note that they have taken the onus on themselves to send me a replacement, I was not thrilled to learn that they are using the same shipping method all over again. “Oh boy, here we go again”. That’s what I told myself.
This time I had a change of luck. The order finally arrived on the fourth week. So much for express shipping. Oh, and one more thing – this time I was provided with a tracking link. Though the website order summary page still said – “Tracking not available with selected shipping method.”
All that said, this could just be an isolated incident and I don’t think this is the norm with them.
As mentioned above I paid $39.99 for shipping. I opted for the second of the two options that are available in India – which is ‘Express’ and guarantees delivery in 7-8 business days.
👉 Please Note: PhotoWorkout.com does test orders and reviews in different countries, in this particular case, I ordered the Mixbook calendar from India. The shipping times in other countries, e.g. the US or Canada will be much shorter (express deliveries should take no more than 5 days). For the Mixbook US and international shipping timings see the Mixbook online shipping time calculator (you can choose between express, priority, standard, and budget shipping).
I am very happy with the quality of the product that I received.
If I had to decide solely on the basis of quality, I would have rated Mixbook 5/5.
However, there are other parameters involved as well. Price, delivery and customer support. All these will skew the final rating for Mixbook. That said, if you are like me, patient and waiting to get nothing but the best, then you will not go wrong if you order from Mixbook.
Mixbook Calendar Review
Overall the Mixbook Custom Photo Calendars are great. If you want the best quality, Mixbook is the go-to printer. Prices are a bit high, but they regularly offer steep discounts and promotions and therefore you may get lucky and get a brilliant photo calendar at a nice price ;-).