Colab was the first company I approached for development and printing of my photographs. I’d taken two on recommendation from various photography groups, and two names had been repeated more than others. Receiving a recommendation from a friend made me decide to try Colab first.
The system requires you to download and install their viewer application which not only allows you to upload your images to their server and request developing and printing options online, but it also acts as a photo viewer and album maker. Some handy utilities for those who aren’t too PC literate.
Using the application is quite easy, it’s all big buttons and structured menus, and the features available are very good for a freely available application. Not only can you view your images, you can also import them from whatever devices you have installed, create and manage albums, print images and even email your selected pictures. What is so good about the application though is it’s simple editing facilities.
Once you edit a picture you can rotate, crop, remove red eye, adjust colours, focus or add text to the image. It’s a nice little facility for beginners in photography, but not a patch on using Photoshop to digitally develop your photos first.
The feature which I was after was the print@colab. This is the upload and order process for a print, and it’s a quite straightforward one. Upon selecting the option you are connected to the service and shown a list of the images and their options for printing, there’s also a nice little bar on the left hand side giving you special offers and updated information.
Simply select you print size, scaling options to fit or fill the image to the chosen print size and the number of copies and you’ll instantly see the price that you’ll be charged for each print. You can easily duplicate the item and have multiple print options for the same photo, remove items, and select the same options and quantities for all items in one go. You can also choose the type of delivery you’d like, all the time being kept informed of the itemised and total prices.
Fill in your delivery details, accept the statement, complete your billing information…etc, etc. You’ll get to the end, confirm your order and you’re done.
I completed this process for two prints, and they arrived a few days later. Quite a quick service. However, actually using the application and receiving the service didn’t turn out that well.
Firstly there was no real way of choosing gloss or matt prints, and the sizes available are quite restrictive. When the prints actually arrived I found that they were gloss, my least favourite option out of the two. I wasn’t too impressed with the way the prints were packaged, they arrived in flat cardboard box, which if mishandled too much could easily have crumpled and damaged them.
One of the prints I ordered was in their largest size, and on inspection I found a huge mark on the paper going straight through the middle of the image, perhaps from damage through the packaging, perhaps from the developing process, I’m not sure. No matter, when it arrived it was badly scored. So I emailed them to let them know the damage. That email was sent on the 23rd of March, and here we are in May with still no reply, totally failing to comply with the Sales of Goods Act.
So despite having a nice looking tool available for playing around with your images, it never really offered me anything more than an online ordering service. The choice of prints was heavily limited, and no choice available for the type of paper, and when the prints finally arrived the largest one was damaged and despite contact to their customer service department there has been no response.
Overall an appauling service, and one I shall never use again for I found a top notch online developer, Photobox.