Studio Album Comparison Review: Miller's, Dekora, Finao

I've been on the hunt for the perfect album company for weeks now. When I asked among my peers, it seemed that the majority of photographers were very happy with the company they were using, but most had never tried anybody else either! I can be very analytical... and I want the best. I want the best quality for the best price, and so I started researching —a lot. The information that I'm finding is not as cut and dry as I had originally hoped, but there is a lot of it! I quickly realized that there simply isn't a comprehensive resource for other photographers in the same position, so I'm compiling all of my findings here for you in hopes that I can eliminate or reduce some of the footwork when you're exploring your own options. 

Finding the Best Album: Miller's, Dekora, Finao 

Honestly, it's not about who is the "best" and who is the "worst". I wish it were that simple! All of these companies produce quality albums with their own unique strengths and qualities. It's about finding out which album is the perfect fit for you, your business, and your clients. Some questions that will help you figure out the answer are:

What cover types do I want to offer my client?
Will 10 spreads be enough to tell my client's story?
Do I want my album covers imprinted?
Do I want hard or padded covers?
Is budget a factor for my clients?
Does my client prefer thinner or thicker pages?
Is fast turnaround/delivery important?

Take your answers, and accounting for the most important qualities in an album, use the chart below to compare/contrast the categories for each album. Some things will be clear and easy to identify... if cover imprint is important to you, Dekora wins hands down. They have a higher variety of fonts, imprint on more cover materials, and for two-line imprints, the second line is imprinted smaller than the first, which appears to be unique to Dekora. If fast turnaround is important, Miller's is the way to go. If variety in cover materials is important or you like the look of a black page core, Finao is the best fit for that. It's all about what you're looking for!


Dekora Signature Album, Studio Sample

Eco Leather, PB Black, Padded Cover, Cover Imprint, Helvetica, Black Linen End Sheets, Fuji Lustre


Finao one, Studio Sample

Wonderland, Earl Grey, Square Spine/Hard Cover, Medium Page, Fuji Lustre


Comparing Miller's, Dekora, & Finao Album Qualities

Miller's Signature Album Dekora Signature Album Finao ONE Finao playBOOK
Included Cover Options 38 Leather & Linen Options 35 Cover Materials: Eco Leather, Japanese Silk, Buckram, Natural Linen, Sakura Cotton 145 Cover Materials Total - 110 current, 19 Discontinued (Available While Supplies Last) 77 Cover Materials Total - 58 Current, 19 Discontinued (Available While Supplies Last)
Leather Covers Included in Price Additional Cost to Upgrade ($55CAD/$40.93USD ) Included in Price Not Available
Padded Cover Not Available Additional Cost to Upgrade ($15CAD/$11USD) Square Spine: Not Available
Round Spine: Included
Included
Included Paper Types Photographic E-Surface, Photographic Metallic with Linen Texture, Classic Felt Press Paper Fuji PD Lustre Fuji Lustre Fuji Lustre
Paper Upgrade Options Fuji Deep Matte Fuji Deep Matte Fuji Deep Matte, Kodak Metallic Fuji Deep Matte
Lustre Finish Upgrade - $1.66 Per Spread Included Included Included
Page Thickness Thin Page 0.03125 Inch
Thick Page 0.0625 Inch
0.0625 Inch Medium Page 0.03125 Inch
Thick Page 0.0625 Inch
Skinny Page 0.015625 Inch
Xtra Page 0.03125 Inch
Page Core White White Medium: White
Thick: Black
White
Deboss/Imprint Cost $15 $25CAD (Currently $18.61USD) $20 Per Line $20 Per Line
Deboss/Imprint Fonts 2 6 4 (Including size options, 6 choices total) 4 (Including size options, 6 choices total)
Deboss/Imprint Colors 8 - Blind (no color), Black, Copper, Gold, Matte Gold, Granite, Silver, Matte Silver 6 - Blind, 24K Gold, Sterling Silver, Black, Matte Gold, Matte Silver 7 - Blind, Gold, Silver, Copper, Black, White, Red 7 - Blind, Gold, Silver, Copper, Black, White, Red
Deboss/Imprint Limits 3 Lines, Character Limits Vary by Size (6 Character Limit for 5x5 to 30 Character Limit for 15x10) 2 Lines, Up to 15 Characters Each 2 Lines, Up to 30 Characters Each 2 Lines, Up to 30 Characters Each
Base Cost - 8x8 Album Thin Page $120, Thick Page $140 $155CAD (Currently $115.35USD) $258.50 Skinny Page $99, Medium Page $154
Additional Spread Cost Thin Page $5.50, Thick Page $7.50 $14CAD (Currently $10.42USD) $9 Skinny Page $3.75, Medium Page $6
Studio Sample Discount 25% 30% 40% 25%
Shipping Cost Included $40CAD (Currently $29.69USD) to the US Calculated Based on Weight & Location ($17.22 for my 8x8 ONE to TX) Calculated Based on Weight & Location ($11.69 for my 8x8 playBOOK to TX)
Turnaround Time (Promised) 1-2 Days in Lab, Overnight UPS Shipping 15 Business Days Shipping 10-14 Business Days 5-7 Business Days
Turnaround Time (Experienced) 2 Days from Order to Delivery 23 Days from Order to Delivery 15 Days from Order to Delivery

Final Cost: Miller's vs Dekora vs Finao

It's a lot of information to take in, I know! This may help... I built two different types of albums with each company (excluding the playBOOK,), selecting any upgrades or options to make them nearly identical: the first an 8x8 linen album, 10 spreads, with photographic lustre paper and identical page thickness. The second, an 8x8 genuine leather album, 10 spreads, with photographic lustre paper, identical page thickness, and embossed/imprinted cover (single line). Here are the cost comparisons, including shipping:

Miller's Signature Album (Linen Cover) Dekora Signature Album (Linen Cover) Finao ONE (Linen Cover)
8x8
10 Spread
Photographic E Surface
Lustre Finish
Thick Page
8x8
10 Spread
Fuji Lustre
8x8
10 Spread
Fuji Lustre
Thick Page
Total Cost with Shipping
$156.60
Total Cost with Shipping
$200CAD/$146.60USD
Total Cost with Shipping
$275.75
Miller's Signature Album (Leather Cover) Dekora Signature Album (Leather Cover) Finao ONE (Leather Cover)
8x8
10 Spread
Photographic E Surface
Lustre Finish
Thick Page
Debossed Cover
8x8
10 Spread
Fuji Lustre
Imprinted Cover
8x8
10 Spread
Fuji Lustre
Thick Page
Imprinted Cover
Total Cost with Shipping
$171.60
Total Cost with Shipping
$280CAD/$205.20USD
Total Cost with Shipping
$295.75

In the end, whatever album you decide on, your client will be happy with. These are all amazing products and are sure to be treasured by them for years to come, so don't stress too much about making the "right" decision... because you can't really go wrong with this one. 

If you have any questions about these albums, or are curious about other companies, feel free to let me know in the comments! It's a goo possibility that I may explore other companies in the future, and expand this post to include more information. Good luck on your journey to the perfect studio album!