Geek Gifts 2011: CanvasPop photo printing service

TechRepublic Senior Editor Selena Frye reviews the CanvasPop photo printing service that allows you to turn any prize photo into art on an archival quality canvas.

I am not a professional photographer and I'm not even a very good amateur photographer, but like many people, every now and then, I snap a pretty nice picture by accident. And now that nearly everyone has a decent camera built right into their ever-present smartphones, we can snap away like paparazzi at a movie premiere — even if we're only sending a picture of some really excellent beer to a sibling (not that I've ever done that).

If you've ever taken a picture — either by accident or design — that you think is particularly artistic or interesting, there is a service that can help you turn it into something a little more special than a 5x7 glossy. With CanvasPop, you can upload any digital image and turn it into an actual piece of art, printed on archival quality canvas. I gave the service a spin, using one of my, um, quirkily composed, vacation photos from Paris — a close-up of the facade of Notre Dame at night.


CanvasPop has a very user-friendly interface and a clean design. They make it easy to place your order. Here are some of the basics:

  • Virtually any size or resolution image can be uploaded in any format for printing
  • Wide range of standard canvas sizes or you can choose a customized size
  • Single or multi-panel designs are available
  • Choose a rolled canvas or frame and thickness options (here is the price chart)
  • CanvasPop technicians will help you fine-tune your image and even remove red-eye for free
  • Various filters and effects are available
  • Free digital proofs of your selection for final approval

Easy ordering, lots of options

It really is an easy process. I decided to do a middle-of-the-road selection with my photo, figuring if they could turn my iPhone snap into something pretty snazzy, then some of the fancier options would really be worth it for a special photo. Figure A shows the clean interface that greets you as you begin the Create and Order process:

Figure A

The image I uploaded is at right. Here are all the options that I chose:

  • Single Panel Canvas
  • Size: 8 X 10
  • Frame: 0.75" deep
  • Edge: Black Border
  • Effect: Black & White
  • Apply PicturePerfect (this is their in-house fine-tuning)
  • Free Digital Proof

These options will set you back $49 + shipping (free shipping currently for orders over $150). After submitting your order you will promptly receive your details via email. The next day, I received another email with a link to log in to the site and approve my free digital proofs. At this point, you can cancel, decide to make changes, or give final approval.

In a little over a week, my box arrived, securely wound in layers of bubble wrap. Here is the view of the back of the canvas — very securely wrapped and stapled with the wire hanger attached, and signed by the technician who put it together — a nice touch:

Here is my canvas propped on the mantel:

Photography skills aside, I was really pleased with the overall quality, including the Black & White effect that I chose. Best of all, it's ready to hang on the wall when it arrives unless you opt to have it sent as a rolled canvas and want to do your own framing.

I had no problems during the process, but CanvasPop offers a LiveChat option if you need to ask some questions about your order, or just need some advice. You also can't argue with the guarantee — if you don't like it, they'll re-print it or give you your money back. They also offer a lifetime guarantee against cracking, fading, or bubbling.

Geek bottom line

Geeks everywhere should welcome a gift idea that is fast, easy, and unique. Not only can you turn some of your favorite shots into art for your home, it could make a great gift for family members or special someones who would appreciate something personal and maybe even a little sentimental.

Geek Gift Score (out of 5)

  • Fun factor: *****
  • Geek factor: ***
  • Value: ****
  • Overall: ****

For more reviews of tech gadgets, gizmos, games, and books, download the PDF of TechRepublic's Geek Gift Guide 2011.

By Selena Frye

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...