As I mentioned previously, I believe Flickr needs a makeover and adopt new features. Otherwise, Flickr risks becoming the next Myspace. The photo-sharing space is evolving with services like Instagram, Color, etc. Is 500px a viable alternative to Flickr? In time, it just might be.
500px just raised $525K in venture capital, and the number of users has spiked recently.
The site is relatively new, so there isn’t as much content as there is on Flickr. I did a search for “San Francisco” and got 139 hits. The same search on Flickr resulted in almost 7 million hits. The quality of the photos on 500px, however, is absolutely amazing.
Unfortunately, there are features that are missing from 500px: no geotagging, no face detection, no groups. I’m sure this will eventually improve, especially now that the company has more cash.
I really like Flickr, but I feel the site has become somewhat dated. There’s so much amazing content on Flickr, but the interface is so clunky. Scrolling through pages of small thumbnails is archaic. I’ve tried Cooliris, a plugin that definitely improves the photo browsing experience, but I still think the interface can further be improved. For example, rollover magnification, similar to that seen on the Apple launch dock, is a nice feature that makes a lot of sense when applied to photo browsing. Thumbnails should automatically magnify if you scroll over them.
To be fair, it’s not just Flickr that needs a makeover; Picasa, Smugmug, Lightroom, etc. can all improve their interfaces. My friend at Douzen is developing fast, dynamic user interfaces that incorporate such features into websites, as well as mobile devices.
Flickr designer, Timoni West, recently posted a nice critique of Flickr’s user interface. I really hope Flickr can quickly adapt to the rapidly changing online photography ecosystem. If not, Flickr may become the next Friendster, Myspace, etc. I guess being owned by Yahoo! is probably dragging down Flickr.
A good friend of mine started working at SugarSync a little while ago and suggested that I check the cloud storage service out. SugarSync is similar to Dropbox; both services allow you to save files online or “in the cloud” and share them. How are SugarSync and Dropbox different from Flickr and Picasa, which also allow you to upload photos and share them?
First, SugarSync and Dropbox don’t limit you to just photos. You can store any type of files online, including music. Second, the storage limits are much greater for users with free SugarSync and Dropbox accounts. SugarSync gives users 5 Gb and Dropbox gives you 2 Gb of free online storage. Compare that to Picasa, which only gives users 1 Gb of storage for free. Flickr only lets you see your most recent 200 photos. Lastly, SugarSync and Dropbox are geared towards sharing your photo (or files) with a small number of people (e.g. family and close friends), similar to Path. While Flickr and Picasa are much more socially driven.
Will SugarSync and Dropbox eventually replace Flickr and Picasa? Maybe in the future, but I don’t think so for now. The services really address different functions. Actually, I think the new cloud services really complement Flickr and Picasa. For example, you can sync some of your photos with Flickr or Facebook and share them with the world, while keeping the remaining ones on Dropbox for personal use. For a better comparison of the different services see Fairhead Creative.
I finally had a chance to try out Flickr. While it’s natural to compare Flickr to Picasa, it’s really unfair to do so. Like comparing apples to oranges, they’re similar but different.
Flickr has a great community of photographers who can provide feedback, guidance, and answers to your questions – it’s not just a place to store photos online. Like Picasa, there is also face recognition and geotagging, but Flickr doesn’t limit the amount of space you can store your photos online. However, you can only upload up to 100MB per month for free. Upgrade to a Pro account for $24.95/year if you want to upload more. Unlike Picasa, Flickr has no support for RAW files, but who wants to upload huge RAW files anyways? It would take forever to transfer images over 10 mb each. There are many other benefits and limitations to Flickr to be aware of, which you can read about at PC Magazine and TopTenReviews.
Flickr allows you to edit your photos online with Picnik. Picnik is a pretty simple, easy-to-use online photo editor, with features very similar to Picasa’s (i.e. it’s not Photoshop). There’s nothing to download and install. It has some nice effects that aren’t available in Picasa, such as Vignette and Cross Process. Unfortunately, you have to pay $24.95/year for a premium membership to access all of the features. Another somewhat annoying limitation is that you can only save edits as a new image, so you have to delete the old unedited photo if you don’t want to keep it. If you pay the premium membership, you can save your edits directly. It also appears that if you edit your photos with Picnik within Flickr, you’ll lose your EXIF data. If you load your photos directly to the Picnik website to edit and then upload the new images to Flickr, the EXIF data remains. For some strange reason, when using Picnik within Flickr, some effects (e.g. Lomo-ish and Holga-ish) aren’t available to you, but if you use Picnik directly, the effects are. For more on Picnik, check out TopTenReviews and PC World. CNET has a nice comparison of the different online editors.
As I mentioned in a previous post about Picasa, it appears that most people have accounts on both Flickr and Picasa since they’re both free; I’ll probably do the same.
I’m currently using Picasa 3 to manage my photos. There are a number of Picasa reviews online, so I won’t go into all of the features in detail. If you want to know about all of the features, check out the Google Photos Blog. I just want to highlight some of the things I really like.
Not only does Picasa manage your photos so that you can search through them, you can edit your photos as well. It’s not Adobe Photoshop, but there are enough editing tools to make most beginners like me happy. For example, try out the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. Anyways, who wants to spend all their time editing their photos? Picasa also does a really nice job of managing photos online (via Picasa Web Albums) as well as on your personal computer so that you can share your photos with friends and family. Unfortunately, you’re limited to 1GB of free online storage. 20GBs of storage will cost you $5 per year – not a bad deal.
I haven’t had a chance to try out Flickr, so I can’t comment on how it compares to Picasa. I’ve read a number of online reviews comparing Flickr and Picasa (just Google “Flickr vs Picasa”). Ultimately, I think it just depends on what you want to do with your online photos. Actually, it looks like most people use both Flickr and Picasa.
A number of friends have recommended commercial online photo sharing sites, like Shutterfly and Smugmug, but I haven’t tried these services out yet either. Digital Photography Website as an article comparing all of the online photo-sharing websites.
All I have to say is that Picasa is a great software package for a beginner, and it’s hard to beat the price since it’s free.