Flickr has finally added photo printing. As of today, US Flickr members can get 4x6 prints for $0.15. They also sell other sizes (5x7, 8x10, wallet, 5x5, xD, and 20x30), but the other prices aren’t quite as enticing.
By default, you’re the only one allowed to print your pictures; it’s a safe default for Flickr, but I don’t really care who prints my pictures any more then I care who looks at them. If I wanted them to be private, I wouldn’t have put them on Flickr. You can change the setting via your flickr preference page; I changed mine so any Flickr member can order prints.
Er, well, some Flickr members can order prints. For now, the printing service is US-only. Considering that Flickr was a Canadian company (until Yahoo snapped them up), I find the US-centric printing kind of funny. They claim that they’re working on adding more countries.
I’ll probably order a few prints to test it out, but I doubt I’ll use Flickr’s printing service much, for the same reason that I’ve never been willing to use any of the online photo-printing places: they don’t do color management, so there’s no guarantee that your prints will look anything like the images on your screen. Instead, I use the profiles from Dry Creek Photo, burn a CD, and take it to my local Costco. I’ve had very good luck this way–I’ve churned out batches of 300 images without any problems or rejects before. The only problem is that I need to burn a CD and then make a couple trips to Costco; one to drop off the CD and another to pick up the prints. Most of the time, I’d rather just click “print” and wait a few days for a package to show up in the mail. There are a number of professional photo finishers that will accept color-managed images via FTP, but none of them are even close to being price-competitive with Flickr or Costco, and for big batches of 4x6 or 5x7 prints, price matters.
Which brings me back around to Apple’s Aperture again. One of the minor features that they’re touting is color-managed printing from within Aperture. I’d love that. Unfortunately, I’m not about to run out and buy a PowerMac and Aperture just to make photo printing easier, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
On the other hand, while Flickr’s non-color-managed prints may not be quite what I’m looking for, they’ll almost certainly save me a lot of hassle–I get a lot of requests for prints from friends and family, and I hate doing one-off prints for people. Now I can just point them to Flickr and let them do it themselves.