HEMA Online Fotoservice

Last week, we uploaded a selection of our digital photographs of our summer holiday to the HEMA, to be printed.

The last time we did that, we uploaded the photos via the website. Unfortunately, the user interface wasn’t very good. Certain selections you made were forgotten and you had to make them again. We only had about 10 photos that time, so it was not such a big problem. And the print quality turned out to be very good!

But this time, we wanted to upload 144 photos, so I didn’t feel like doing things two or three times. Therefore, I decided to try out the offline order software. Well, I’m not very enthusiastic about that either, but at least it remembers the selections you make.
When it finally came to uploading the pictures, I was quite surprised that it went so quick. I am pretty sure that my 256 kbps uplink cannot upload a 3 MB picture in about 10 seconds.

I noticed that the HEMA order software had made an “Upload” directory in its Album directory. All my original HiRes photos had been copied there, and they were disappearing one by one. But every time, the topmost picture was first replaced by a much smaller, low resolution version, before it was uploaded! I quickly copied one of those files as “evidence”. Apparently, the photos are resized to 1600 x 1200 before they are uploaded. OK, I didn’t say they could do that, but if the pictures really have to be resized before they can be printed, so be it. But the pictures were also compressed! And not just a little!

My original photo was 2724 kb, with a resolution of 3072 x 2304.
The uploaded picture was only 369 kb, with a resolution of 1600 x 1200.
Of course, I tried resizing the picture to the same resolution myself, (without compression!), and got a photo of 1658 kb. That’s 4.5 times larger!

I thought I would wait to see the result. So today we picked up the pictures, but they’re terrible. You can clearly see the JPEG compression artefacts on some of the pictures. So, I’m certainly going back tomorrow!

Update (Sep. 7): I went back to the HEMA with my pictures, and with a CD with the original HiRes photos. The woman behind the counter said they normally don’t take back digital photos because they don’t know the original quality. So I told her that I did, and that they didn’t use it! Well, she would send them back, but said she couldn’t guarantee anything.

Update (Sep. 16): Today, I went back to the HEMA and got all new prints of our photos. These photos are all ok, no visible compression artefacts or anything like that. So they can do it at the HEMA. If you just make sure that they get your HiRes pictures, for example on cd. But don’t use their offline order software!

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Wednesday, September 6th, 2006 Computing, Photography

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