Canvas Pop Digital Photo Print Service

Unplggd Test Lab

Product: Canvas Pop
Price: $30-$419 depending on size and finishes
Rating: Strong Recommend *

As Gregory mentioned last week, we had the great honor of testing out a few digital photo services for the New York Times. Since all the news that's fit to print couldn't accommodate results from each of the services we tested I thought we'd share some of the amazing prints with you. We're hoping it'll provide a realistic look at what your everyday person can make. In this first installment, we take a look at Canvas Pop.

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Canvas Pop's claim to fame is the ability to take any digital image -- from high res to candids snapped with a camera phone -- and blow it up without losing detail and without costing an arm and a leg. We wanted to see what the service could do with two very different quality photos. The first is an amazing high res dSLR shot taken by an incredibly talented photographer, Tawnee Lynne Cowan. Her photo of a golden grass and sandy landscape, complete with two flying turkeys, features a lot of easily missed details, but I found that Canvas Pop's reproduction gave every millimeter justice. You can still scope out most of the individual stalks of grass and feel the movement of the birds as they fly across the frame. We did notice though that some of the hue variation in the sky seen in Tawnee's original photo was lost in the print, but that may be due to the framing option we went with.

Canvas Pop offers many different framing options, including the ability to use the entire image to stretch over the wood frame. While this shortens how much image is seen in the front, we like the effect it has on the sides. If that's not your thing though, you can opt to have the border done in black or white, or framed on the exterior with white, black, or espresso finished wood.

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Some of the nice details Canvas Pop adds to its prints include already installed mounting hardware on the back and small rubberized wall bumpers on the back to ensure your print doesn't damage the wall and sits flat against it.

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The second experiment was with a photo we hastily snapped with an iPhone. The shot, taken after driving cross country from Brooklyn, NY to Monterey, CA, is a favorite in our house as it encompasses the first day of the rest of our lives so to speak. Since we look at it frequently on our computer, we thought it only made sense to blow it up so we could look at it on our wall.

The 2048-by-1536 pixel image was turned into a 24-by-18-inch canvas. Since the image's quality wasn't too hot in the first place, artifacts are a little more obvious when seen on the porous canvas (as seen in the close-up above). The result reminded us that some photos just aren't meant to be seen big. While point and shoots can do a great job snapping photos, they still have a lot to improve on in terms of color balance, exposure, and focal length -- even more the case with camera phones.

This may sound obvious, but what you put in is what you get from Canvas Pop, or any service to be honest. You can't expect professional results if you don't turn in a professional photo. Canvas Pop can help make adjustments to your photo in post production, but don't expect miracles. We would recommend that with any image you're thinking of blowing up, look at it off screen. Use your home printer to ink a letter-size print to see if your image of choice translates from monitor to paper.

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One last detail we really liked about Canvas Pop's service, each print has a signed sticker on the back telling you who put your new artwork together. While it has nothing to do with their printing quality, it does remind us of the type of hands on company we were working with and that's so rare these days.

Canvas Pop prints images using archival inks and a giclee canvas printing method. Output sizes range from 8-by-10 inches to 24-by-72 inches. One feature I'd like to try in the future, with the right image of course, is the ability to create diptychs, triptychs, or quads out of a single image. Take a look at Canvas Pop's site and you'll see some great examples of this.

Pros: An easy to use service that inexpensively turns digital photos into mounted canvases. No major size or cropping restrictions, and in-house technicians can help turn ok photos into better prints.

Cons: Not so great photos won't look much better printed big. It's not really a reflection on Canvas Pop's service per se, but since they do highly emphasize on their site the ability to take photos from any source and turning them into canvases, remember that just because they can doesn't mean you should.

Our Ratings:
Strong Recommend*
Recommend
Weak Recommend
Don't Recommend

Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.

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