Web-Based Photo Services Compared

With the overwhelming popularity of digital cameras these days it is easy to take hundreds of digital photos at a time and then not know how to share them with others. Emailing batches of photos or snail mailing memory cards aside, an easier option exists in the form of online photo sharing and storage web sites. These sites usually offer for free or a very small charge, the ability to store quite a few photos as well as letting you set up public or private folders with which to organize and share your pictures with others. We’ve picked out some of the more popular sites and listed them for you here in no particular order along with a basic overview of features to help you get started in choosing the best photo site for your needs.

Photobucket (www.photobucket.com)
Photobucket is one of the more comprehensive photo sharing and storage sites out there. It gives you 1GB of free online storage, which is the equivalent of around 10,000 digital images. Each image can be a maximum of 1MB in size and have maximum dimensions of 1024 x 768. You can upload both videos and pictures, with upload options available via a variety of methods including email and mobile devices. Besides being able to grant others access to sharing through emailing them links, you can also link in your digital media content to a variety of other online services and blogs such as MySpace, Blogger and eBay. Also available are features like buying prints and publishing images to our mobile phone.

Photobucket
The Photobucket Website

Smugmug (www.smugmug.com)
Smugmug is another extremely popular photo sharing site, especially given the fact you get unlimited storage of photos. This does cost you around $40 USD per year, however. One can crop photos they upload, password protect shared photo galleries and have customized Web links for their photo-centric Web pages. Other features include theme based Web photo pages, ad-free Web photo pages, the ability to add photos from mobile phones, comment notification and being able to link your photos into Google Maps so you can be reminded geographically where a shot was taken.

Smugmug
The Smugmug website

Flickr (www.flickr.com)
One of the most popular photo sharing sites is Yahoo!-owned Flickr which, despite being owned by an Internet media giant, retains a strong independent flair. Like other sites, you can publicly or privately share photos you have uploaded with others around the world. Flickr assigns you a URL you can give out to others so that they can stop by to view and leave comments. A big community aspect of Flickr is the ability to search and view others’ public photos without needing an account. Those with accounts can do online editing of photos, upload photos from mobile phones, post photos to blogs, add tags to make searching for photos easier and sort photos into groups based around themes.

Flickr
The Flickr Website

Snapfish (www.snapfish.com)
Snapfish is one of the oldest online photo services, having first opened their virtual doors in 2000. The fact the company claims over 30 million registered accounts and that they were snapped up by Hewlett Packard are testaments to their staying power. As one of the oldest and largest, they are able to offer unlimited online storage to their registered members. Sharing is done through emails from the site to those for whom pictures are made available for viewing, requiring the viewers to create their own free Snapfish accounts. Other features include photo editing and organizing, uploading of digital photos from a mobile phone, mailing in camera film for conversion to digital images and having the option to order professionally developed prints.

Snapfish
The Snapfish Website

Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com)
Like Snapfish, Shutterfly is another one of the oldest and largest online photo services, though they’ve remained independent and host over one billion images. They offer a variety of useful features, including online editing of photos, the ability to add descriptions to online and purchased pictures, printed photos, scrapbooking via digital photos put into a physical photo album, email photo sharing with no registration required on the part of those you share with, free unlimited online photo storage and the ability to enhance photos with one of over 400 borders. You can also pay Shutterfly to have your photos adorn a variety of physical products such as calendars, greeting cards and coffee mugs.

Shutterfly
The Shutterfly Website