Product Review: CanvasPop

October 26, 2011

By Dan Havlik

Among Web services for printing on canvas, CanvasPop adds ability to make canvas prints from smart phones.

People can’t get enough of having photos printed on canvas. I reviewed an online service that does just that about a year ago, and since then dozens of similar companies seem to have sprung up. There also seem to be an equal number of printers and canvas media options that allow you to achieve the same effect at home or in the studio.

One canvas Web printer that came to my attention recently is called CanvasPop and their claim to fame is they say they can make quality canvas prints from images as small as those from your smart phone. (They can also print full-size images from digital 
SLRs etc.)

I thought I’d put that claim to the test recently and was pleasantly surprised with the result. Earlier this summer, I traveled to Italy and filled up several CF cards full of shots in Rome and Venice captured with a heavy-duty DSLR. Funnily enough, some of my favorite photos ended up being the dozen or so I shot using the 5-megapixel imager in my iPhone 4 and the Hipstamatic app. (Such a cliché, I know.)

Other than sharing these iPhone shots on Facebook and making a small book out of them through Blurb, I never thought I could get much further mileage from them. One of my favorite photos is of a street musician in Trastevere and I decided to run it through CanvasPop service, to see if I could get something useable.

The secret, if you want to call it that, is that CanvasPop employs special filters that help improve the quality of low-res images when printed big. The two filters I played around with—digital paint and oil paint—created a painterly effect, which worked well with my image since it already had an artsy look to it, thanks to the Hipstamatic app.

The CanvasPop Web site ( is attractive and user friendly but seems more designed for consumers than professionals. While there are specific services for photographers including wholesale pricing, it’s not evident on the site.

According to CanvasPop, all their printing is done in house—they don’t outsource—and there was good, hands-on, customer service. (My final canvas print arrived with a note from the person who “made” it.)

Though my iPhone image was just a 365K file, I ordered a 20×20-inch canvas print of it, which cost $67 plus shipping. About a week or so later, the end result arrived at my door in a well wrapped and, most importantly, undamaged package. Though the finished canvas print looked more like a painting than a photo—partially because of the way I shot it and partially because of CanvasPop’s filter—I really dug the result. Pretty as a picture.

Printing photos on canvas continues to be all the rage and now you can make quality canvas prints from even smart phone images thanks to the Web service CanvasPop. With more and more pros shooting with smart phones these days—see story on page 36—there is certainly an ample stock of images lately.

Pros: Better-than-expected canvas print quality from small smart phone photos.
Cons: Service is primarily aimed at consumers.
Price: $30-$219 (depending on size of the print)

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