Canvas Print Review Editorial – Our Favorite Canvas Maker

Gear & Apps November 7th 2012 5:27 AM 51 Comments

Overview & Early Conclusion

Large canvas prints are great way to showcase your photographs for yourself or for your clients. There are handful of professional canvas-makers out there, as well as consumer-based companies such as Costco, so we thought it would be a great idea to compare the quality of their canvases in our canvas review editorial. There were far too many companies to choose from, so we selected Costco, Simply Canvas, Pixel2Canvas, WHCC, Bay Photo and CG Pro Prints for our review.

It was clear that the professional labs significantly beat out consumer based canvases in terms of build and print quality. However, among the professional labs, print quality was actually very similar across the board. While there would be minor differences that are barely noticeable at 2-3 inches (most of which were preferential), the canvases could not be differentiated at a standard viewing distance of 2-3 feet. This meant that our decision came down to Overall Framing Quality, Pricing and Service/Speed.

One particular company stood out far above the rest. As a result, CGProPrints.com has officially become our canvas-maker for SLR Lounge. Not only was their print quality on par with the other professional canvas makers, their pricing was half the price of Costco and 1/4 to 1/6 the price of professional canvas makers which was a huge selling point. In addition, their overall framing was incredible having no warping or bumps on corner folds. This along with their standard 3 day turn around made them the clear choice among companies in our testing group.

So, rather than talk about why we didn’t select the other companies, we are going to focus on discussing each key point in our selection of CG Pro Prints. Unfortunately, there are always going to be some of you that are “jaded” to the point where you will think this review selection was based on “payment.” I can assure you that it wasn’t. We made this selection based on who we will be using for SLR Lounge and our studio, Lin and Jirsa Photography.

UPDATE: CG Pro Prints was kind enough to give us a coupon code for an additional $10 off 16×20 prints or larger until 12/10/12 “SLRCANVAS”

Watch the Video Review

Testing Methodology: Four Key Points

In order to systemize the entire review, we chose to compare each canvas and canvas-maker across four key points. We also used the same image for all the canvas prints for our comparison.

1. Canvas Texture and Print Quality
a. What kind of inks are used? Are they archival-quality inks? Do they provide good, accurate colors?
b. How do the details resolve in the print? Canvas prints typically do not attain the same level of detail as opposed to regular prints so this is a major factor in overall print quality.

2. Overall Framing Quality

a. Is the canvas is appropriately stretched and framed tautly with clean corners? Are there any warping, bends, and loose canvases?
b. What kind of materials are used for the backing?
c. Does the canvas arrive ready to be hang or does it need additional hardware installation to hang?

3. Price
a. What is the price in relation to the build quality? If build quality is similar, then price becomes the key factor.

4. Service and Speed
a. How easy is it to submit an order online?
b. How long does it take for the finished canvas to arrive?

Detailed Review

To cut to the chase, CG Pro Prints was on par or lead in all four categories. Not only did their canvas print quality match or rival other professional canvas makers, their canvases are half the price as the consumer-based canvases from Costco and fraction of the price of professional canvas makers.

Here are the detailed results for each of the key points:

1. Canvas Texture and Print Quality

Consumer canvas prints from Costco suffer from some oversaturation of certain colors like greens and blues. There was also some color shifting compared to our color-calibrated monitors. Additionally, detail was not resolved well in high-detail areas such as hair.

The great news with the professional canvas-makers such as WHCC, Pixel to Canvas, and CG Pro Prints is that the overall print quality, canvas texture quality, color accuracy, and detail retention are all spot on across the board. When we are looking at these canvases from a distance at 3-4 inches, it is difficult to see who has the better quality.

In addition, most of the difference that you might see at 3-4 inches would be something we would call “preferential” rather than being a clear quality difference. For example, some makers used a thicker grain of canvas which had slightly less detail than those that would use thinner grains of canvas.

None of these differences were significant at 3-4 inches and at the standard viewing distance of 3-4 feet, it is practically impossible to tell these differences.

Canvas-Review-Editorial

So rest assured, you really cannot go wrong in terms of canvas and print quality with any of the professional canvas-makers. One thing notable about CG Pro Prints, however, is that they use automobile-grade inks, which are very durable, archival-quality inks that can stand outdoor weather which none of the other companies mentioned using.

2. Overall Framing Quality
Most of the other professional canvas prints exhibit little to some play with the print themselves and their edges are framed tightly around to prevent warping.

Flipping around backside, the other professional canvases were either left open or had paper-like backing that is either stapled or glued to the canvas. This type of backing is more elegant than an open-back solution, but it is still relatively unprofessional in our opinion as it looks “cheap.”

The Costco canvas print framing had the most canvas play, which means that it may arrive with warped lines as well as loosen over time.

On to the backside, the Costco print has open backing. Some of the professional canvas prints also have open backing as the standard option. You have to pay extra to upgrade to a paper backing or matte backing. Additionally, not all of the prints have the mounting hardware already built-in.

The corner edges of many of these prints also exhibit little bumps as they are not completely taut.

The framing quality of the CG Pro Prints canvas is really where that canvas starts to run away from with the competition. There is an internal foam-core frame behind the canvas itself, which means that the canvas is very rigid and has no play whatsoever (see our tapping test in the video). The edges are also flawlessly taut with no rises whatsoever.

CG-Pro-Prints-Corner

Moreover, all the CG Pro Prints canvas prints come standard with a stiff, matte backing that already have two mounting options installed.

CG-Pro-Prints-Matte2

CG-Pro-Prints-Matte

3. Price
What is even more amazing than the high quality of the CG Pro Print canvas is its price. It is actually 50% cheaper than Costco. For a 20×30” canvas print, Costco charges about $70, whereas a professional canvas-maker charges between $120-200. CG Pro Print charges only $35 for their 20×30” prints. That is half the price of Costco for an incredibly high quality product that comes standard with internal framing, automotive-grade archival ink, and the stiff matte backing.

Furthermore, they don’t sell “retail” meaning that your clients won’t be able to simply go to their site and purchase directly. They sell wholesale to those running photography business only. This is major selling point for us as it creates a sort of “exclusivity” for our clients. I.E. The only way to get this sort of print is to print through the studio.

4. Service and Speed
Finally, CG Pro Prints also has a very easy ordering process on their website, and the prints only take about 3 days to ship, as opposed to the standard 1-2 weeks turnaround time that we typically get from the other professional canvas-makers.

Final Conclusion

As you can see, it should be quite easy to see why we selected CG Pro Prints as our official canvas-maker for SLR Lounge. They provide prints with great image and canvas quality, excellent framing that has matte backing standard, and a price that is half as much as the low-end Costco brand. In addition, we can get the prints done in half the time it would take from other professional canvas-makers. There is simply no comparison, and we recommend CG Pro Prints.

UPDATE: They were kind enough to provide us with a coupon for $10 off your first order of a 16×20 or larger which can be seen below:
SLR_Coupon_Review

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Pye

About

Pye (AKA Post Production Pye) is a founder and the Managing Editor for SLR Lounge. Pye is also a Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography, an Orange County based wedding, engagement and portrait photography studio. Connect with him on Google Plus

51 Comments

  1. Dave

    While I like CGPro for some of my canvas prints, I can’t use them all of the time. I shoot landscapes, buildings, sunrises and sunsets. Most of the places I display my work at have a Walker-type display system, and CG only offers sawtooth hangers, which do not work with the Walker system.

    I’ve tried wiring the back of one of their canvases, and ended up pulling the hangers out of the matte board, ruining the canvas.

    When clients order canvas prints, I explain the different hanging types and let them make the decision. But for personal prints, I won’t use CG until they have more options for hanging.

    Great review!

  2. Steven

    Any thoughts on how CanvasPop compares?

  3. MrAdam

    Any thoughts on companies that ship outside the US?

    • Photos to Canvas

      Have you tried PhotostoCanvas.com , they are 1/2 the price of these other companies and offer free shipping world wide…

    • Joshua McClure

      We ship all over the globe! Please check us out!

  4. Jennifer

    Nice review …how much were you paid to promote CG Pro? I don’t see how you came to the conclusion that an inferior company is the top canvas against a professional lab such as Black River Imaging. By the way, CGPro is not framed; it is canvas glued around foam core. As far as price, sure, this company is a winner hands down but as an “incredible quality” product they fall short.

    • Thom

      And which framing company do you work for?

    • Jake

      I don’t work for any of them, but I just ordered some from Simply Canvas, CG Pro, and Artsy Couture to compare.

      CG wins on price, but the print quality on larger sizes and build quality in general leaves them off the list of ones I would sell to clients.

      Personally, I find Artsy to be a good balance of price and quality.  And Simply Canvas, while much more expensive, has a much better quality and build.  Also, they have a wide range of sizes for non traditional crops.

      CG Pro has a limited range of sizes.  Again, they’re not the worst and the price is great.  But as a professional photographer selling these products to my clients, I don’t think the money saved is worth the loss in other areas.

    • Pye
      Pye

      Feel free to think what you like, and to purchase and pay however much you like for your canvases. We did this review to help all of you out and we would never make claims that are false simply because we were paid to do so. These are the canvases we will be delivering to our clients, period. 

    • Alex

      I actually preferred a glued on canvas. You don’t have to worry about the wrap getting loose or the sun shining through the thin canvas material.

      My only one small little concern about CG is that it’s a little easier to leave fingerprints, especially on the white parts of the photo, but at least they can be rubbed off with some water and paper towels.

      I got a canvas from Simply Canvas, and OMG, the quality is AMAZING. People ask if the photo is painted on. But my clients can hardly tell the difference between CG and Simply Canvas, so I usually go with CG to save money, unless Simply Canvas has a big sale going on.

      Just don’t go with Easy Canvas Prints. Poor quality, lost detail, overly saturated reds, loosely wrapped, see-through canvas material, diagonal imprints right in the picture from the crossed wooden supports in the back being too close to the canvas, corners were folded diagonally instead of straight along the edge, and a wooden block had broken off during shipping. They just got everything wrong about a canvas.

  5. Duke

    I think it would be cool to see a review like this on metal prints.

  6. Vic

    From my understanding (which could be wrong) you also can’t use them if you are a
     DBA. Which mean starting out I am going to find a lab I like and probably stick with them. 

  7. Jon McGuffin

    Awesome review pye, people suggesting you work for or are paid are absurd.  Ordered two prints this morning.  Thanks!

  8. Marcin Nurek

    16×32 is not available from CG but Costco has it. Bummer

  9. Marcin Nurek

    Why the first comment was removed? I just happened to read it just before it was deleted. She had a valid point that I was going to reply and ask to elaborate on. 
    – What’s the deal with foam core frame?

    • Pye
      Pye

      The user must have removed it him/herself. We didn’t touch it. The best way to see how the internal foam core works as opposed to the other canvases is to watch the video, we do a little tap test showing the difference. 

    • Jennifer

       Marcin, the comment is still there.  You just have to click the button to see more comments.  lol  The foam core is how they can offer a product at a much lower price point.  There isn’t any wood.  I have torn apart one of the damaged canvases I received from them (3 of 4 corners & the backing was already coming undone by the time I received my order) so I tore it apart to see what was inside after reading numerous negative comments in Facebook groups.  I wanted to see for myself how the product was constructed so I wouldn’t be spreading false information. 

  10. Michael Yuen

    Hmmm. I like the price and of course the endorsement. Makes me take a second look on my current favorite, canvasondemand.

    • Mike

      I have had to get replacements on two canvas prints from CanvasOnDemand.  They were good about replacing them, but their product is not great quality.  I won’t use them again.

    • Michael Yuen

      I’ve just had 2 experiences too with getting replacements. Less than stellar experience, though they were good about fixing whatever is not right. I will give SLRLounge’s recommendation a try sometime in the future.

  11. Tim6554

    Thanks for good review. When I need to choose the best canvas prints company I use http://www.canvasprintsreviews.com

    It’s convenient to compare companies there.

  12. Mike

    Too bad they don’t ship to Canada.  Would love to see a similar review for metal prints and also prints face mounted to plexi.  

  13. Christian Lindblom

    What about Adorama?

  14. Appleseeds73

    In the article it says 10% off with the code, but the image below (at the end of the articile) it shows $10 off 16×20 or larger.  Just thought I would point that out.  

    • ChristopherLin

      Ahh, thanks we will make the correction.

    • Earl Jules

      which pricing discount is correct…? 10% or $10 …
      * * *
      if you had a proofreader, perhaps that sort of mistake wouldn’t happen…
      along with the misspellings and grammatical errors in the article …

      I enjoy the article … but errors distract from the impact… (well, me anyway)…

  15. Jennifer

    I am not an employee of any print lab. I was merely pointing out that this product in no way stands up to a canvas that is properly stretched on a WOODEN frame (rather than foam core) & is secured with more than glue. Flicking a canvas by far does not show it’s durability! Glue comes apart over time which would make this an inferior product. I have ordered from this company, therefore having firsthand knowledge. I have 4 canvases that had edges coming apart either upon arrival or within the first month from order placement. This wouldn’t even be an issue with a product that is properly wrapped on a wooden frame from a high quality lab that spcializes in archival ptoducts!!

    • Pye
      Pye

      These don’t look like they would fall apart in a month, or really ever. They are built pretty solid. But, if we do have durability issues in the future we will incorporate that into the review. It is really difficult to base a review off of what may happen a year down the line with each canvas for obvious reasons. No need to be negative or condescending, flicking the canvas was to show how the canvas was mounted in comparison to the stretched canvases, obviously it wasn’t a durability test. 

    • Joshua McClure

      You should try us! Museum quality fit and finish!

  16. Suzanne

    I’m a little disappointed. I was really interested in this review since I have a few things I really want to see on canvas, however, I don’t have a studio, I’m more of a committed amateur. Where do we go if we don’t have a business license? I’m assuming the last part of the order process at CG would ask for that. Where do the rest of us go if we want a good print at a decent price?

  17. Wayne Hanner

    I tried this service and they are awesome! SLRlounge nailed it on this review…thanks guys!

  18. Kiym

    However the oldest canvas brand in the industry since 2000, is pix2canvas.com (out of California) and they use the new Epson Exhibition canvas. For those who want the highest quality printmaker.

    • DesertGal

      I just received my 2 20×30 prints and they are gorgeous. I always have to look for specials as prices are high and I am on fixed income.

  19. DesertGal

    Can I still use coupon? Says it expired 2012? Also wondering just how much they charge for the shipping. Sometimes that is as much or almost as much as the pic.

  20. canvas prints

    Good blog one explain things vary details about canvas printing . ..

  21. Janice

    Thanks for the review and the details. Very helpful! Also helpful to read the comments. I have just had one from our local Costco and am very pleased with the result, color, detail, etc. I ordered some more including for 2 diptychs at 16×48, a perfect size for them. They had a coupon to encourage us to take the plunge. The prices are lower now than when you wrote this.
    I like that if I am not satisfied I simply return for refund. But it really mattered to me to find that the one you recommend is actually mounted on foamcore. I would definitely not want that. Also, the open back is preferred by me, at least at this point, since it is more like a typical painting on canvas that usually does not have a backing.
    Will look forward to more of your articles and reviews. Thank you!

  22. Lea

    Based on this review, I decided to give CG Pro Prints a try. I ordered some personal canvases earlier this year. After four months of hanging on my walls, the backing on the 16×24 began to warp so that the canvas no longer lays flat against the wall, but rather, tilts to one side. In addition, the corners on this canvas as well as a 16×16 I ordered have separated.

    I contacted CG’s customer service and they began by suggesting I purchase MORE canvases and let them know if those ones warped or separated. I couldn’t believe it! They promote a 100% satisfaction guarantee but when it came down to actually standing behind their product, they wanted me to just order more.

    I pressed to have my canvases replaced (which is what they offer on their site) and trying to get them to do so has been a HUGE pain. I’ve been corresponding with them via email all week and after taking pictures of the defects – at their request – they have now requested I mail the canvases back to them before they will reprint them or give me a refund.

    So, because their product fell apart by just hanging on my wall, I have to incur the expense of packaging them up to mail them back. Throughout my email correspondence, the customer service rep also made sure to point out that I was in the wrong (for what, I’m not sure).

    All in all, this company is clearly much more concerned with their bottom line than with customer service. Yes, they are cheap and apparently, you get what you pay for. No lab is perfect and I have received damaged products from other labs. The difference is that they apologized for my trouble and immediately rectified the situation at NO COST TO ME.

    I will not order from CG Pro Prints again.

    • Candice

      Thanks for your comment Lea. It seemed too good to be true. Do you have a company you love now?

    • Naijin

      I just filed a report to BBB. Because I had 8 pieces, $300 order with $45 shipping. But their printing has irritating odor caused headache even after put them outside airing out for hours. They closed my complaint by asking me to mail them back for refund. what canvas and what service is that?

    • Eric Mazzone

      I just had a order from CGPP where I ordered it with Next Day Air shipping, as advertised in checkout, because I needed it no later than 3pm my time. They choose the cheaper NDA Saver method with a delivery time of 7-8pm, my show starts at 5pm and they’re completely unapologetic about their screw-up. Thankfully UPS was able to hold the shipment at their distribution site, BUT saver is not in any way Next Day Air. This is my 6th piece from them, and it’s completely faded! I’m very displeased and if they don’t make this right I will never use them again and will file a BBB complaint!

  23. Anna Men

    Dear Purchasing Manager,
    This is Anna Men from Nanjing Colorway Digital Technology Company.
    We are professional inkjet media, large format printing products manufacturers.
    Our main products are as bellow:
    1) Inkjet Photo Paper, Sticker Paper, Color Laser Photo Paper
    2) Inkjet Film, Backlight Film, Lamination Film
    3) Inkjet Canvas, Inkjet Eco-Solvent Wallpaper
    4) Sublimation Transfer Paper/T-shirt Transfer Paper
    5) Inkjet Original/Compatible HP/CANON/EPSON Ink Cartridge
    Lexmark Cartridge
    If you have any interest in our products, please feel free to contact me without hesitation.
    Waiting for your good news.
    Anna Men

    • Eric Mazzone

      No I don’t have any interest in your business and because of this spam I will NEVER use your company either!

  24. Nishan Randika

    check out the prices on canvas memoirs!! http://www.canvasmemoirs.com

  25. MattB

    I have been getting prints from CGProPrints for a couple of years. For the most part my experience has been very positive. I do get a bad print every now and then, usually white flecks in the print from what looks like lumpy ink. I often shoot at night so they are obvious when present.
    I have never had any problems getting them to replace a bad print when I get one, but it has been somewhat inconvenient when I was planning on delivering to the client and I have to get it re-done. But considering the price it still seems worth it to me. They do require a photo of the issue but that doesn;t seem unreasonable to me. I never have to ship the bad one back.

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  28. JNJ

    I just filed a report to BBB. Because I had 8 pieces, $300 order with $45 shipping. But their printing has irritating odor caused headache even after put them outside airing out for hours. They closed my complaint by asking me to mail them back for refund. what canvas and what service is that?

  29. Edward Hall

    Good article Pye. My favorite part is separating the key elements for a good canvas and printer and is often quite a hard struggle for artists and photographers looking for their ideal resource printer. However, you missed a very important and one of the most critical for professionals and that is DURABILITY. Note, I am writing this response discussing professional needs, not the general consumer market needs. You mentioned that CG uses automobile archival-grade inks rated to last 100 years, however it defeats the purpose if they are used on a foam core canvas that falls apart within 10 years. Everything in the canvas needs to meet that same level of durability. For instance, the canvas maker should use good wood that is stored in dehumidified climate controlled rooms to reduce warping, shrinking, and expanding when being shipped across countries. They should use archival-grade inks which are rated to last up to 100 years. They should not skimp on staples for stretching and use d-rings and wire hangers to reduce hanging limitations as pointed out by one of the other contributors on here. Backings are nice but who actually sees them and I prefer open backs personally. As I stated, I am making points on quality required for professionals who make their living selling prints of their art or photography at shows and galleries. Price is important for many, but in the professional market, quality is equally if not more important, at least for the majority of our pro clients. In the end, the only thing you can do as a good studio owner or pro taking their career seriously to find cost and quality effective printers for their business and career needs is to buy from many printers. Try them out, reach out to them and ask them for a sample or at least a sample discount. The printer/product is the most essential part of your professional career and business to generate recurring revenues with customer loyalty and thus is worth the time and effort to find the printer resource that meets your needs and budget. As a pro, do not look at face value on these websites, contact the labs and see if they offer pro discounts. There are good labs out there, and unfortunately do not reach the audiences ears because of the big guys paying out a ton in marketing with huge discounting because they offset their costs by using foam core, or cheap wood and vinyl canvas. Do not be fooled by price if you are a pro. Always remember that the quality of your work is directly represented by the quality of your canvas. I have seen too many times photographers at big shows selling prints of Gorgeous photos on AWFUL canvas they hand stretched themselves to save 30 bucks. And then they wonder why they aren’t selling. One of our clients on the other hand (I can’t disclose the name) sells over $250k a year selling his photography prints at shows every year. If he stretched his own stuff, that number would be much lower guaranteed. If you are going to sell your $400 print, then it should be on a high quality product to reflect the high quality work and signature for the brand you are creating whether it be a studio or as a signature photographer taking landscape photos. If you have questions please feel free to reach out, but absolutely try different labs. There are thousands, over 2000 in NC alone where we are located. So if you haven’t tried at least 10 out of thousands of labs, then you need to at least get to ten before you make that commitment to a long-time printer relationship. I am trying to be objective without tooting my own horn since we specialize in professional giclee printing and have done it for a Loooonnnngg time. So please, if you don’t try us, please do yourself a favor as a pro and try other places and if you choose to give us a shot that wouldn’t be bad too. :) Thanks!

  30. Jainam Shah

    Thanks for great information. After reading this article and comments i really surprised and feel happy because i never got any bad print and any problem for canvas print because I always order my canvas print from Canvas Champ online store. I suggest to all try it once. CanvasChamp offers high quality canvas print in low price. You can visit their online store at http://www.canvaschamp.com/

  31. Wing

    While it might true that I should’ve gone with your canvas printing, I’m here to comment on your fellow Canvas printing company – Canvas Palette from Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. My husband and I had a very bad experience with our wedding prints – not only was their website horrible in terms of where exactly the image wrap will cut off, but the so called “guarantee” is also a scam. After getting prints (even with coupons, we paid good money for) that were off-coloured (my husband looked pink, and our B&W canvas was totally GREY), and one was wrongly wrapped (I paid extra for colour wrap but they gave me image wrap anyway) – two of canvases we received cut out the elbow/arm of a perfectly fine photo. I finally decided to call them up and complaint. At first, the sales rep, VJ was nice about it after 35 minutes of discussion said we’ll redo everything. 2 weeks later (which he said would only take 1), he emailed me back and said it’s your original prints that limited how we can wrap the canvas and therefore we’re not doing it anymore. And if I submit a new print, that’s considered a new order and they won’t honour the guarantee. SERIOUSLY? You should just have a better website which tells us exactly where the wrap would go around the edge so we would’ve submit a CORRECT photo in the first place!! and now you’re blaming my original print? Don’t go with them. Canvaspalette is the name.

  32. Jason Weaver

    I noticed that this article was a few years old. Are you guys still backing CG Pro Prints?

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