bring your photos to life
November 29, 2019
Most of the time when you look at your digital photos, you’re either gazing at your palm-size smartphone or your slightly more satisfying PC screen. You’re missing out in both cases. For a magnificent shot, there’s nothing like a mounted photo print on the wall that takes up a few square feet. CanvasChamp lets you turn your digital photos into this type of wall art at a reasonable price and with a clear web interface, though you give up some niceties found in more expensive competitors.
Choosing Your Print Details
After you choose the type of print you want and its size, you simply upload your picture, or pick it from your Facebook or Instagram collection. If you just want some generic wall art, CanvasChamp lets you print from its collection of inspirational stock photography.
The service accepts images in BMP, JPG, and PNG format. Some services also accept TIFFs, which tend to have more image information; others don’t even accept PNG files. If you have file format other than the three accepted types, you’re directed to HighTail’s file-conversion service, so you can use that, too—a plus for CanvasChamp.
CanvasChamp’s upload size limit is 25MB, which is decent for the formats it accepts, though it’s not big for an uncompressed format (you can bypass this limit, too, with HighTail). The largest JPG on my system is 18MB, from a full-frame DSLR, and my iPhone X’s 12-megapixel camera produces images with complex detail in JPGs of under 3MB, so the 25MB limit shouldn’t pose a problem for most users.
After you upload the image file, you can change the print size again. You then choose a wrap and border style. The wrap refers to the part of the canvas that extends over the sides of the frame. Options for this include thin (0.75-inch) gallery wrap, (1.5-inch) extra-cost thick gallery wrap, rolled canvas, and hanging canvas (includes top and bottom boards). If you go with a wrap, you can have the photo wrap along the edge of the frame or use a solid color.
Next up is your choice of hanging hardware. The standard order comes with hanging hooks, which suited my purposes. You can also opt for a sawtooth hanger ($3.99), an easel back ($19.99), an easel stand ($24), or a dust cover back ($9.99).
At this point of your order setup, there are some image-enhancing choices—you can go for a Warhol Marylin style, caricatures, or Lichtenstein. Those all add $10 to $25 to the price; free effects you can choose are sepia and grayscale. The final step in setting up your order is to choose whether you want lamination to add color vibrancy and protection, and if you want minor or major retouching—all of which costs extra. I chose lamination, raising my initial price by $4.99 to $48.37.
You can request a proof email, and see your photo canvas in views simulating a room, in 360 degrees, and in 3D, may help you visualize the final product. The room view is a bit cartoonish, unlike CanvasPop’s realistic one, which I find more helpful.
And that’s it. You’re ready to place the order. Add it to the cart, choose a shipping method—I chose Standard (nine business days) for $7.99. If you’re in more of a rush, you can shave two days off that with Express service ($28.98); or get your picture in five days with Priority ($38.98). For $7.99, you can add gift wrapping and a message.
At Checkout, I was finally asked to create an account. You can do so easily by signing in with your internet overlord of choice, or you can enter an email address and password manually. After all the setup, options, and shipping, my final canvas print price was $56.36—a pretty good deal! For comparison, the same order from CanvasPop cost $116.
After placing the order, the site tried to get me to share to social networks and write online reviews. Let me see the print first, please! But there is a carrot: If you get a friend to order a print, you get a free 8×8 canvas print order—ditto for signing up for the site’s email newsletter.
Order Shipping and Print Quality
My CanvasChamp picture arrived a day before the estimated date, despite having been produced in and shipped from Ahmedabad, India, to PCMag’s New York City offices. The packaging consisted of plastic-wrapped single-layered cardboard, with several stickers telling the handlers not to drop or place weight on its center. For comparison, CanvasPop shipped my print in a larger box with bubble wrap around the picture—safer for shipping to be sure.
The photo I used is of a small bird on a branch near the ground at dawn (a female American Redstart, or Setophaga ruticilla for the ornithologists out there). I photographed it with a Canon EOS 6D SLR using a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary lens. Parts of the photo were somewhat dark, so I wanted to see how the print service handled this.
The canvas that CanvasChamp sent was of good print quality, well saturated, and tightly mounted. But I did have a couple of issues with the result. First, the service cropped my photo beyond what I had specified in my order. If you compare the screenshot above with the canvas photo below, you can see that the rounded leaf in the bottom left is in the screenshot but not in the canvas. The cropping is a lot more apparent in real life than in the images shown here. In CanvasChamp’s defense, the proof image I saw later did match what I recieved, but again, I hadn’t made the crop myself.
The second problem is that dark areas lost all detail. Yes, this is somewhat my fault, but CanvasPop managed to bring out those details in their print. You can see the CanvasPop result below to the CanvasChamp photo above. It’s a higher level of workmanship, and the colors do indeed pop more. Nevertheless, the CanvasChamp product is well produced, and you may not mind the cropping or lack of brightening. In fact, if your primary goal is exactly reproducing your photo, you may prefer its lighting treatment.
Big Prints, Small Cost
If you need a big wall-size print but don’t want to pay a big price, CanvasChamp is for you