Photo Print Lab Comparison, Victoria, BC

Photo Print Lab Comparison & Review

As some of you know, I recently moved back to Canada from Spain.  Being new in Victoria meant that I wanted to get a sense of the best place to do prints. I´ve done a similar blog post about my print tests in Vancouver, but that was years ago, and the wrong city now… so it seemed like the perfect time to do it again!

I decided to test two professional labs, two consumer labs, and one online Toronto based professional lab (because it just so happens to be the lab which my galleries are connected to for printing!)

Here’s what I tested:

Two consumer labs:  Costco & London Drugs

Two Professional Labs:  Prism Imaging & The Print Lab

Online Lab:  GTA imaging (connected to online shopping cart)

I ordered 10 prints (from the exact digital files) from each lab and got their matte/pearl paper and one luxury metallic print from those labs who offered it.

Here’s what I found…

Price Comparison

I chose to compare the most standard sizes, and two specialty paper sizes (metallic). 

As expected, Coscto is the cheapest (but doesn’t offer the metallic paper) and the two pro labs are more. The USA based lab which all my galleries are connected to (your client galleries too!) is moderately priced for the smaller sizes and cheaper for the specialty paper. 


Print Size Coscto London Drugs Prism Imaging The Print Lab
4x6 $0.19 $0.39 $0.65 $3.00 $1.50
5x7 $0.69 $1.49 $1.99 $5.00 $4.00
8x10 $1.99 $5.99 $7.50 $8.00 $8.00
8x12 $1.99 $7.99 $7.50 $18.00 $11.00
5x7 Metallic n/a $5.99 $14.00 $8.00 $5.00
8x10 Metallic n/a $11.99 $19.00 $19.00 $10.00

Color Comparison

In my previous tests, I found a huge inconsistency when I let a consumer lab “auto” correct my images. I sent the same files to the same place on different dates, and got back images which were significantly different. (To see that post, click here.)

So, this time, I wanted to be sure there was no difference depending on who was working that day, so I specifically sent the note: “Do not adjust or color correct image. Print exactly as-is.”  with the exception of Costco… I just felt like they were going to be a poor quality print anyway, so I did not send any special instructions. I just ordered normally through their website and waited to see what they came up with.


Color was greenish and they brightened my images! Even though I sent several night shots which were intentionally dark, they boosted the exposure. Not impressed with color or muddy looking print, but hey, I didn’t give them specific instructions to leave my files unchanged.

London Drugs

Print came back magenta (reddish) but I tend to like warm images more than ones that are too cool, so this didn’t bother me. For certain photos, this might be a problem, but I didn’t mind this time. Maybe their machines are set to boost red saturation?

Prism Imaging

Color ok. A little dull looking (unsaturated) but maybe because I just looked at the LD ones! Overall, average, but I expected better for the price!

The Print Lab

Color rendition looked as it did on my screen. No surprises.

Color rendition looked as it did on my screen. No surprises here either.

Paper Comparison


Printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper. This was thinnest of all the papers I got back. The matte finish is very smooth, almost like a glossy paper but without the shine.

London Drugs

Paper has an almost “sticky” feel to it. Not a third party paper from what I can tell… just says London Drugs on the back. Matte paper has a textured finish, unlike the Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper.

Prism Imaging

Printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper. (Same paper as Costco, see above comment.)

The Print Lab

Printed on some kind of bigger paper roll and cut to size. The paper is slightly curved, with no writing on the back. The paper is the thickest of all the samples I got back. Nice quality if you don’t mind the curving (won’t matter if you frame it.)

Printed on Kodak Professional Endura paper. Very slight texture on matte paper. Not sticky to touch like the LD paper. Same thickness (as far as I can tell) as the LD paper.

Specialty Paper: Metallic Print Comparison

Metallic prints were available from 3 of the 5 labs: London Drugs, The Print Lab and Here’s how they differed.

London Drugs

This didn’t look much different than their glossy paper and I was quite disappointed considering that it was twice the price.  The paper was curved, looked hand cut, and had no printing on the back like their other prints. It was barely more shiny, if at all more shiny, than a glossy print. Super unimpressed, will not order metallic from them again, as it doesn’t look metallic!

The Print Lab

They offer Metallic Glossy and Metallic Rag according to their website, but I guess they actually only had the rag when I ordered because I wasn’t given the option of the two. Very surprised when I opened the print and it was textured, since I didn’t ask for Rag! The metallic shine definitely is noticeable but so is the texture. For the photo I chose, it wasn’t ideal.  I suppose you could print something nice on this paper and it would look really cool, but I personally don’t like this texture on children’s faces, and that’s the photo I had printed.

Printed on Kodak Endura Professional Metallic paper. Results are stunning with vibrant images, especially in light areas or high-key images. Price of this paper is less than the other two, but in my opinion is far superior!

Above is the Metallic Rag (textured) paper from The Print Lab

Above is the Metallic gloss paper from

Service and Turn Round Time Comparison

I received the friendliest service from Prism Imaging and The Print Lab. No human interaction was had through the online ordering systems of the other 3 labs.

The quickest turnaround time was Costco and London Drugs which were ready the same day. The longest was 2 weeks for the order from The Print Lab. My online order from arrived in 10 days and Prism was ready for pick up after 3.


I wouldn’t order from Coscto again unless I didn’t care about the prints (for example when I had to submit prints for my husband’s immigration paperwork!)  Unfortunately, the prints from Prism Imaging were easily forgettable… average quality but more expensive than other options, so I don’t think I’ll be ordering there again either.

London Drugs surprised me this time around. (My previous tests with them in Vancouver were totally inconsistent, but I’ve learned that I must specify “DO NOT COLOR CORRECT” otherwise you never know what you’re gonna get with them.) I will order there again if I am in a rush to get prints, or am ordering just a few and not worth the shipping cost of ordering online. Overall, nice, quick prints, as long as you don’t let them adjust the files.

The Print Lab did provide good color quality and thick paper and I could see (when I picked up the prints) that they also do a lot of large format stuff like framing and printing on other mediums. I would probably order from them if I were to order a large framed print for above my fireplace!

For the last decade, (connected to GTA imaging in Toronto, a Top Canadian print lab for 35 years) has been my go-to lab for prints.  They were carefully selected from dozens of labs as providing consistent quality and 100% satisfaction promise on all their prints. They ship worldwide and although this does add a few dollars to the cost, it’s generally worth it for orders with more than just a few prints. If you’re ordering metallic prints, then they are the only place I would order from because the price and quality are far better. I will still use them for the majority of my prints when I’m not in a rush to get them the same day. 🙂

I hope that was helpful!

Thanks for reading!


 – Naomi Maya, Photographer in Victoria, BC

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