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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Goodbye Flickr, hello Picasaweb!

Yep, I've changed my mind again. I was with Flickr, but now I'm uploading my pictures to Picasaweb. Why the change? Let me take you through it.

I originally chose Flickr due to its maturity, features and aesthetic design compared to competitors. (I still think Zooomr is ugly). After that, I uploaded over 1,000 pictures to the site.

But Flickr has its downsides too: first, it's very slow to load. Pages take a while to appear from links, and photos load even slower. Second, the pictures are small. Flickr must have big bandwidth costs, and no doubt as a result of that the standard image size is rather small.

Since I made my decision to go with Flickr, Picasaweb was launched. I initially ignored it as I was quite happy with Flickr. However one day I was reading Jeremy Zawodny's blog and upon clicking on some pictures, was suprised to see that they were hosted on Picasaweb. (Suprised as Picasaweb is a Google product, and Jeremy works for Flickr's parent, Yahoo!.) Several things struck me at once: how fast the pages and pictures loaded, how much less distracting clutter there was around the pictures, and how large the images were. This made me want to investigate further.

Picasaweb utilises a new version of the Picasa photo-organising software, which I swear by. It's pretty much the perfect way to store, manage and view your digital photographs. Picasaweb's intergration within Picasa is simplicity itself - you select the images you want to publish to the web, click the new "Web album" button, select a few options (album name, privacy controls, image size etc.), and hit "upload". That's it!

Compare that to what I had to do to get my pictures form Picasa to Flickr: I had to select the pictures I wanted, "Export" them to a seperate folder on my desktop, launch the Flickr Uploadr, open the folder, select all and drag them into the Uploadr (usually having to resize the windows so I could see both at the same time), then add the tags etc. and finally upload the pictures!

Even the current limit of 250Mb of pictures (compared to the 6Gb I have with my $25 Flickr Pro account) is not a big problem. In fact it might even be a plus. I had a tendancy to upload a lot of images to Flickr (as said, over 1,000 since April!) and truth be told a lot of them were rather mediocre. Picasaweb forces me to pick only the best shots to conserve space. (I save more space by limiting uploaded images to 1024px - why do you need more on the web? I back-up my pictures seperately.).

In fact, a years worth of carefully-chosen images has only taken only a little over 50Mb of my quota - so I could, in effect, go for some four years before needing to upgrade my account :-).

The one big thing I miss from Flickr is the embeddable Flash slideshow, which showed the latest 60 pictures you'd uploaded. It was quite nice to have that on my personal blog - and I'd seen people viewing it with interest - and I've had to replace it with little more than a big link to my Picasaweb page. That said, losing the slideshow let me undertake a much-needed redesign of the site :-).

So there you have it. Picasaweb is much easier to use, and better to view, than any of its competition. If you're looking for a way to publish your photographs online, I highly recommend checking it out.

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