11/11/2010 Update: WIN A BOOK JUST LIKE THIS ONE! Check out my AdoramaPix Photo Book Giveaway! (ends 11/18/2010)
11/08/2010 Update: AdoramaPix calendars and 8×8 photo books are 20% off! (through 11/22/2010).
(10/12/2010 Update: AdoramaPix is having a 25% sale on their 8×10 photo books, similar to the one featured here (through 10/26/10). Clicking on the link above will take you directly to the AdoramaPix site.)
This is one in a series of posts reviewing the available options for making your own wedding photo album. If you’re a bride or groom, you won’t want to miss my multi-part bride-to-bride (or bride-to-groom) guide on wedding photography and DIY photo books.
At the bottom of this post will be any current AdoramaPix deals, or click on the link to see the latest AdoramaPix promo codes!
Until recently, I’d never made a lay flat photo book before. I wrote about the photo book options I hadn’t tried yet in a prior post and this was one of the top features I was most interested in exploring. Enter AdoramaPix. I was offered a complimentary photo book to try out their software and it was the perfect opportunity to try out a lay flat wedding photo book. This is a DIY option that many brides and grooms are seeking to get a “professional looking” photo book at an affordable price.
Here’s the stats:
|Book size:||8×10 (width x height) (10×8 “Santa Fe” on Adorama site)|
|Price:||Normally $74.95 +$12.50 (for protective coating) +12.95 (2nd day air) = $100.40 (paid $25.95 after complimentary credit)|
|Ordered/Shipped/Received:||June 29 / July 6 / July 8|
AdoramaPix’s software runs off their site. You start by choosing the shape for your book. The company offers portrait, square and landscape books in a number of sizes. The largest would be the 12×12 and the smallest is a 6×4 portrait sized book. For my book I selected the portrait 10×8 Santa Fe book. As the book opens for a full spread of 16 inches across and 10 inches high, the ratio seemed right for featuring full bleed two-page spreads with minimal loss of image due to cropping. Since I was making a wedding photo album, I thought about the ones I had seen online and many of them were vertical in orientation, plus since most of my photo books are landscape books, I wanted this book to stand out.
Next you choose the number of pages for your book. AdoramaPix books come in fixed page counts: 14, 26, 38, 50 and 76. These fixed page increments are necessary to accommodate the book’s unique lay flat accordion-type binding. If you find that your book is longer or shorter than you thought, you can change the page count easily while you’re building the book, so no worries. My book featured 160 of my favorite wedding photos taken by our talented photographer Albert Yau of Second Print Productions and a few taken by family and friends.
The next step is to choose a theme. There are more than 30 of them to select from ranging from baby books, wedding, and guest books to graduating seniors books. For mine, I chose “Build your own” for a blank slate.
Next you have to upload your photos. If you have them already uploaded to Flickr or Picasa, you can select those options.
The workspace for the book itself is kind of small, but you can zoom in and out with a slider tool. Note that the green shaded areas of the layout may be cut off in the trimming process. The cover has a larger potential area that may be lost in the final printed book than with the interior pages. Avoid putting in the green area any captions or part of the photo which you would not want to be trimmed off.
You simply drag and drop the photos you wish to use. If you’ve used a template, it’s very easy to build your book. You can also choose the autofill function to place your photos and tweak from there. Creating your own layouts is not difficult either. The layouts are fully customizable, so you can use your full creative power to make any design from scratch, or alter any provided theme to suit your needs.
1) The automatic “fit to page” and “fit to spread” buttons make it easy to do a full page bleed and an easy two-page spread. The software makes it easy to use your photo as a backdrop for additional photos;
2) The grid and alignment tools help ensure you’ve properly lined up your photo boxes. Also helpful is how the photo’s pixel size and x & y coordinates pop up automatically when you hover over the photo;
3) The software does not remove from view the photos that you’ve already used, in case you want to want to use them more than once;
4) You can sort your images by name or date, which can be important if you want to be able to group your photos and place your photos in some chronological order, or keep them easy to locate;
5) The transparency function allows you to easily fade a photo’s opacity. Useful if you want to overlay photos on top of one another, but want the focus to be on a photo in the foreground;
6) There are an extensive number of backgrounds in various colors, textures etc. I managed to find about 4 or 5 that I used for my book. Not using too many different backgrounds makes for a cohesive looking book;
7) The backgrounds are also available as stickers that you can place anywhere and resize. You can also control the opacity of the stickers with the transparency function. It allowed me to take the “rustic green paper” sticker and make it look like a sheer ribbon spanning the spread. A small touch, but very nice;
8) It’s very easy to reorder the pages at the bottom by dragging and dropping them into a new order;
9) Undo – every book design tool should have an undo button – it’s essential and this one works like it should – I believe it goes back an unlimited number of steps backwards;
10) The copy function allows you to duplicate an image or element, so you know you have an exact copy – useful if you’re creating a layout and want to make sure all the photo boxes are the same size;
11) The “copy spread” function is key when you’re designing your own layouts. I could reuse a spread I created earlier which was a huge timesaver. It’s not readily apparent that the feature exists. On a Mac, you right click and a box pops up where you can select, “copy spread’. You can then paste to place that spread anywhere in your book and then drag and drop new photos into your custom pre-made template;
12) I like the book copy function which allows you to make a complete duplicate of your book. (accessible when you’re outside the software and viewing your projects under “My Books”) That way, you can mess with a new version while keeping the original version untouched.
Honestly, there isn’t much that I didn’t like about AdoramaPix’s book making software, but there were a few items I wouldn’t mind seeing…
1) The one highly patterned eye-catching background I used, printed out pixelated – it looked fine in the preview;
2) There are so many stickers to choose from which is good, but loading them takes quite a while (there are 2757 of them as of this writing!). The search button makes it a bit easier to find the one you’re looking for, but only if you remember its name. It would be nice if you could mark the ones you’ve used for the project so they are easier to find and reuse;
3) The 30 some fonts were okay, but if I were to do a lot of text or captioning, I would like more options;
4) There aren’t extensive editing tools for your photos if you want to fix contrast or brightness etc. You need to do that in an outside program. It would be nice to be able to do minor tweaks while working within the book making software.
Print Quality & Book Construction
Out of the books I’ve done so far, this one comes closest to what I would call a professional photo book. I was very impressed with the print quality and the lay flat binding. Here’s why:
1) The book is printed on actual photo paper – Fuji Crystal Archive photo paper to be exact, not regular paper so the print quality is excellent. Since it’s printed on photo paper, it should come closest to the original photo.
2) The pages are thick and sturdy. From what I can tell the double-sided pages are fused together and won’t get crinkled from viewing. (I’m one of those people who digs in the back of the magazine rack for the one that hasn’t been thumbed through yet.)
So that you could see what I mean by thick and sturdy pages, I made a video for you
3) The pages lay flat and have no gutter which means you will not lose any of the image in the center of the book. No worrying about how a two-page spread will come out.
4) Note that the first page opens up to the first spread and the last page of the book features the last spread. This is where you may see an outline of how the pages are attached to the cover. It didn’t bother me and didn’t affect the quality of my photos, but , if you’re concerned you could design a “filler page” for the front and back of just a plain background and not place any photos on it.
5) The cover surprisingly looks like metallic paper was used. The specs noted that the paper would be coated with a durable scuff resistant pearl-gloss finish, though there appeared to be some tiny air bubbles on the surface of the cover only (not on the interior) that did not “cure” perhaps? The black and white photos printed with a nice sheen to them. I happened to use metallic photo paper when I printed my photo table numbers for my wedding and for a 5×7 print I framed of this exact photo. I like how it makes the images pop – if this isn’t actually printed on metallic paper, it looks to have the same effect.
6) The book appears solidly constructed though the front cover was developing a crease, but I think that’s unavoidable in many cases
Note that I opted for the protective coating on all the pages. I don’t know what the book would look like without it, but I wanted the pages to be durable. The coating adds a reflective luster to the pages, which you may or may not like – I think it came out nicely here. Also, I did not go with the auto-correction for my photos. They came fully edited from my photographer and I already had them the way I wanted them.
Lastly, there is no logo in AdoramaPix books, a point that is crucial for some, not any concern to others. I prefer no logo if I have the option, but if I don’t, it doesn’t bother me as I’m not reselling my books.
I found AdoramaPix’s software to be easy to use and full of features for complete customization for your book. Newer users can use preset themes for easy drag and drop creation, while more advanced users will like the ability to create your own reusable templates. As for print quality and book construction, AdoramaPix is one of few companies to offer photo books printed on actual photo paper and at a very reasonable price for the quality of the product. In using my handy dandy Photo Book Wizard, the only company I could find making a comparable product is Mpix. By comparable, I mean a lay flat photo book printed on actual photo paper. As you can see from the chart below, Mpix’s is more than double in cost. (Mpix’s does come with a black leather cover however and I know some brides want a leather album.)
I’ve never printed one of Mpix’s Assembled Albums before so I can’t do a quality comparison for you. I have only printed prints with them and one small 5×5 press photo book (which is different from the assembled albums).
Overall, AdoramaPix was ideal for making an affordable high quality wedding photo book with sturdy lay-flat pages printed on real photo paper. I would highly recommend brides (and non-brides for that matter) to try out AdoramaPix. I was really pleased with how my book turned out and looking forward to making more books with them!
Currently, AdoramaPix is offering $10 off to all new customers. You can click on the link below to check it out for yourself!
If any sales or promos pop up, I’ll be sure to let you know. Click here for the latest AdoramaPix deals.
You can also try AdoramaPix for getting prints, cameras and other photography equipment.
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