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Not only does Moo have one of the easiest web addresses to remember (moo.com) they also have created an assortment of products useful to photographers. They are not a all-in-one printer who handles cards, calendars, books, flyers, etc… What they lack in breadth, they make up for in creativity.
A representative from Moo contacted me and asked if I would like to try out their brand. I had heard of and seen their mini-business cards before and was curious about the quality. Until now I had gone the route of using the cheapest printer I could find to send me a stack of 500 business cards. She explained a bit about Moo and that I could choose up to 50 different images for my business cards and still print the same message/info on the back if I liked. I gave her my boilerplate answer, that I only give my honest opinion in reviews and if their product was sub-par, I would be mention it (some companies are looking more for advertisement than an honest review). I was more than intrigued and took her up on the free offer for 50 business cards and 25 4”x6” greeting cards. (They also offer mini-cards, sticker books, holiday cards and postcards.)
First step; setup an account and start uploading. As this isn’t a ‘How To’ post, I won’t get into the specifics, but I will tell you the process at Moo is straightforward when it comes to uploads. Like a lot of sites they have a standard and a Flash uploader to handle files. They can accept JPG, PNG and GIF formats(and PDF for business and mini-cards). Pretty standard fare.
Each Moo product has a recommended size. For instance, the recommendation for business cards is 1039 x 697 pixels at 300DPI, but the minimum accepted is 332 x 223 pixels at 96DPI. The largest recommendation is for greeting cards, which should be uploaded at 1795 x 1287 pixels and 300DPI. They print in CMYK and colors can be proofed using the Coated GRACoL 2006 profile, for those wishing the best color rendition. sRGB and AdobeRGB will be converted automatically and Moo includes a Photo Enhancement feature which can be turned off if images are to be untouched.
A NOTE in the process at this point: after uploading photos, the next screen displays all the images in proper orientation, so a mix of portrait and landscape can be included if printing a pack of 25 greeting cards, for instance. On this screen is the option to click a photo and view the Photo Enhanced and non-Photo Enhanced version side by side and select. I found most of my images better suited to not using the feature as I had the colors set as I liked them. However, this feature can be handy for adding some, dare I say it…”pop” to images needing it. This part of the process can be time consuming if there are 50 images to adjust but Moo does offer a “Don’t Use Photo Enhancement” option for those of us who have already set our colors as we like. The enhancement doesn’t seem horrible, just overdone on images I had already ‘enhanced’. A lot of sharpening seems to go on but the image is a bit small to tell.
After choosing Photo Enhancement or not, there are options to zoom, crop or just reject images and not print them. The next step in the process is to insert a message on the inside of the card. Text color can be edited and eight different fonts are available.
The next step is to add print to the back of the greeting cards if desired. A logo image can also be added. There are no font or color selections on this area of the card, just black text. Clicking next brings up a selection of envelopes to go with the cards, noting a few color options are available at a higher price (white envelopes are included). The last step is to choose a quantity of cards and add everything to the cart for purchase. Shipping for greeting cards is $10.50 for 25 via US Postal Service Priority Mail (Express Mail is available if things are needed sooner). This brings the order to just over $2/card shipped. Discounts are given for larger orders.
The process is about as easy as most higher end sites catering to the general public. Business cards work much the same way, with the option to upload up to 50 images (if an odd quantity of images is uploaded, Moo will divide the order between the photos as evenly as it can). Moo also has a number of templates for all of their products to help ensure everything fits on the products. Backs on business cards are kept fairly standard as can be seen in my example shot of what showed up on my doorstep a week later.
Each shipment comes with the Moo Promise; a boilerplate pledge to make sure you love your order or they will do what needs to be done to fix it. My initial order of cards came separate and I used five images on the greet cards and 50 for the business cards. I am pleased with the outcome and was happy how well the color on the products matched what was on my screen (noting it helps to have a calibrated monitor). The stock of the paper is hefty and the business cards are slightly larger than standard, helping them stand out even more in a crowd of average nameplates.
In my order one picture of elephants appeared, to me, to have a very slight purple tint in shadow detail. However, no matter who I showed it to (about 15 people at various times, asking for opinions), no one commented on what I saw. I mentioned it to the representative who sent me the free offer and she told me to call the customer support number and they would be glad to send a new batch. It is entirely possible I was imagining the tint and it could have also have been the light I was under (although I took them into daylight to check and it did lessen to being unnoticeable). I chalked this up to my extreme pickiness and the lighting in my house and did not request a reprint, although I am sure I would have received it.
The color and clarity of detail on the business and greeting cards is of solid quality. These are cards I can hand out and confidently say, “This is my work” because the printing is to my standards. The biggest problem with them is, to be honest, parting with them. Having 50 cards, I had to decide which to carry with me and which to leave home. But it does make for a good conversation start from a photographer’s point of view; when someone asks for a card I present them with four or five choices that I carry in my wallet and it always garners a reaction. People are expecting boring, maybe neatly designed business cards with basic information. Instead they are presented with colorful options and can pick an image that clicks with them. I have even had friends jokingly fight over who gets which card.
I have since placed a second, paid order with Moo for an assortment of 25 different greeting cards I intend to use as thank you cards. I have found the cards are a great way to say thank you and also give people a nice photo to put up at work or hang on the fridge.
For more information on their pricing and printing options, go to Moo.com. The ship worldwide and accept major credit cards.