ALDI Photos review
ALDI's web-based upload engine starts by asking if you want your prints at a 4:3 digital ratio or a 3:2 classic aspect ratio, as used in 6x4in prints. With that choice made, a Java uploader launches and you go through a fairly standard process of dragging your chosen JPEG images to the site's upload box.
There's also a downloadable Windows application to upload prints, but it provides few features that ALDI's web interface doesn't have. It's also unable to browse libraries and shortcuts easily. The program helpfully alerts you in cases where it believes photos to have already been optimised using image editing software, and prompts you to disable Automatic Image Correction; however, the image optimisation box was still checked for each photo even after this.
You're also prompted to apply red-eye correction, which we appreciated. Once again, you can choose between Original Format and Classic Format - these are actually digital (4:3) and traditional (3:2) aspect ratios, although it's never made clear what difference this makes, as a pull-down menu lets you select both digital and traditional sizes for your prints. A final option in the software allows you to submit orders by post on a CD or DVD.
This graph totals our blind test scores from all the prints in a stacked bar graph, so you can see which service did best overall and where their individual strengths lie - click to enlarge
ALDI offers fewer options and novelty items than most retailers, although the obligatory greetings cards, canvas prints and photo books are still on the menu. There are also only a handful of photo and poster formats to choose from. Price is a redeeming feature and 6x4in prints cost just 5p each, making this the joint-cheapest photo service we've reviewed.
Here's our natural skin tones test, scanned from the actual print, which failed to recreate the subtle, fair tones of the original - click to enlarge
Sadly, although it's a winner when it comes to pricing, the quality of ALDI's prints leaves much to be desired. Our judging panel was particularly unhappy with the rendition of pale colours, including yellow tones - which became greenish - and pale skin tones, which looked dull and almost purple in places. The effect of this slight oversaturation of blue tones was occasionally to a photo's advantage, as in our image of rolling green fields against a blue sky. However, some prints looked slightly fuzzy and out of focus, with a lack of fine detail.
There's no argument that 5p a print is a great price, but it’s not enough to make up for dull photos lacking in detail when you can pay a similar price to get your snaps printed by Foto.com, our Best Buy winning online printing service.