I need to get cards made up from some digital photos I took, but the printers I talked to all have a minimum order of 500. I don't have a good quality color printer of my own. What can I do?
If you don't want to invest in a photo printer and want cards that look "store bought" another option is to use an online photo service. For small quantities of cards, posters or photo books, you can try out a service like Shutterfly. If you are worried about the quality, Shutterfly has an offer where you can get 15 prints for free just to try them out. Most digital cameras can produce pictures at high enough resolution that the prints are indistinguishable from those made from film.
The only bad thing about getting prints or cards online is uploading the files. To get good quality prints (particularly enlargements like a poster) you have to give Shutterfly high-resolution images, which are large and can take a while to upload. (This article explains the relationship between image size and resolution.) If you plan to get cards, it is extremely helpful to have a high-speed Internet connection. If you are stuck with dial-up, you can mail them a CD with the files if you prefer.
When you get items such as cards or posters made, consider the dimensions of your photo. You need to be careful not to put anything important close to the edge of the image because it might get cut off. However, Shutterfly shows you previews of your cards, so you can get a good idea what they'll look like before you have to get out your credit card.
If you have larger quantities, you may also want to look into some of the online printers, which may offer smaller minimum quantities than your local print shop. For example, on many products Printing for Less has a minimum of only 250. (If you use our coupon code of RP1AGV2IH when you check out, you can get $25 off your first order.)