Toronto. George Dunbar raised an interesting question the other evening.
“What process is used today to reproduce prints at Walmart from digital files?”
“Inkjet printers,” I asked?
“Maybe for large prints,” said George, “Smaller prints use a type of dye sublimation.”
Walmart actually uses two Kiosks: Kodak Kiosks and their own design in collaboration with Fuji. They and others also offer remote online printing which uses a central system and mails the prints out to the consumer.
A blog called “Back Impressions Photography“, while not verifying the process, conducted two analysis. The first called “Print Lab Comparisons: Professional Versus Consumer” compared prints from a few popular American sites with the owner’s professional lab. The second, called “Digital Images Printed: Walmart Versus a Professional Lab” discusses the impact of electing to let Walmart print your prints. Apparently not all Walmart’s are the same when it comes to prints from digital files.
The consumer labs seem to use heavier sharpening and a darker colour than Pro labs. The author suggests which consumer processor is better and how to avoid any added sharpening.