Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Photo sharing has becoming one of the major activities which online community are using so heavily, until one will never feel complete should there be any online services like social networking site without such capability. I myself have been using web services as way to share some details of my life with my friends and family, and one of the most common way is of cause photo sharing. That is why I am coming out with the idea of doing some comparison between some famous free photo sharing service available on the web as of today – Facebook, Flickr and Picasa Web. By the end of this post, you should be able to know what are the capabilities and features provided by each of the mentioned service provides.
Facebook is the most popular social networking site which ramp up just within these few years. It become so popular that its number of users had exceeded all other similar social networking sites. And according to some data collected by a third party company, the average number of photo uploaded Facebook had exceeded all its rivals and even other photo hosting website. But how far do you know what Facebook’s can and can’t do on your uploaded photo?
Facebook does provide some must have basic feature as I listed at the beginning of this section. First of all, user is able to add in description to individual photo as caption.
Secondly, rotating your photo is never easier than just clicking a simple button, but Facebook gives you options of rotating it either before you upload (during selection of your photo to be uploaded) or rotate directly from your album after they have been uploaded. And Of coz, user will be able to organize their photo and albums and set privacy setting for their album
Great job done:
- Thumbnail view of photo on upload selection page
- Tag the people in your photo
- Relatively fast upload speed
- Virtually unlimited number of photo (only restrictions is max of 200 photo per album)
What I must praise about Facebook upload tool is that it allows on-time thumbnail preview of your all photo right in the selection view, making it easier for the user to clearly see and choose the photo they want, simply just by marking the check box respective to each of the photo. User may select multiple photo and try to upload all of them at once with single click on the upload button
A brilliant idea from the Facebook is on its capability to allow user to “Tag” the person in your photo with their name, or even link it to their Facebook profile (if they are Facebook users). That will allow easy identification of all the person by just pointing your mouse cursor near to their face, especially for your friends whom you have not seen for X number of years when sometimes you could hardly recognized them in the photo.
And what surprised me is the uploading speed of Facebook. Despite the huge number of users and the traffic load to their Facebook servers, the photo uploading speed is the fastest among the 3 services which I had done benchmarking on (Facebook, Picasa Web and Flikr). It took only ~16 seconds to upload one 1.42MB photo on my machine.
Another good about Facebook is that virtually there is no restriction on how many photo you may upload to your account, but the only restriction is that it is limited to maximum of 200 photo per album. But you may have as many album as you like within your account (please correct me if I am wrong). I am really amazed by how daring the Facebook is on this for not restricting the capacity for each user. :)
What I think Facebook should improved:
- Direct sharing with Facebook friends only
- Privacy setting is per album only
- No photo editing feature at all
One thing I believe Facebook may improve is the sharing of the uploaded photo. Currently, it only allows sharing among Facebook users who are within your friends list. However, I would be more appreciate if I am allowed to share the photo (or album) with non-facebook user as well (example: just a simple external link to the album with view-only access on the album).
The next thing I would like to see will be the privacy setting to allow per photo privacy setting. For me, I would prefer to group/categorized my photo according to events. Some sometime, there will be some photo which I would really like to keep it hidden from some of my friends while allowing only others to view. But since that the privacy setting applies only on the album level, this cannot be done unless I move those photo to another album and mark the privacy setting as what I desired. However, this result in my photo on single events were scattered around in multiple album, and that make it difficult for me to manage them.
Another thing which I found is lacking in Facebook is the photo editing features. I myself would like to add some watermark text to my photo before sharing it publically. However, whenever I want to do such work for my facebook’s photo, I need to launch a third party application just to add in the watermark and then upload the watermarked copy to my Facebook account. What I am thinking is not a professional photo editing features, maybe just a few simple editing feature like watermarking, adjusting of contrast and white balance will be fine.
Flickr is another online service which target mostly on photo hosting and sharing than other features like facebook. Some basic feature which Flickr provides include the adding of note to photo, sharing of the photo to multiple group, organizing the photo into set (similar concept with album), allowing viewing of the photo in different size, allow print order via Flickr service and etc.
Great job done:
- Advance photo editing features
- Privacy setting for each photo
- Allow direct photo blog entry to various blogging service
Since that I had mentioned that Flickr’s is targeting mostly on photo hosting and sharing than all other services. Thus, I would be expecting photo editing features on it, and Flickr did it quite a good job. Other than the watermarking and constrast as well as white balance adjustment on your uploaded photo, Flickr do also provide lots of other advance editing features such as exposure adjustment, colors sharpen, red-eye, touch-up tool, adding of frames and stickers, sandbox, and other build-in effects such as blurry and oil-painting effects. With all these effects and advance tool, one can make adjustment on what they need on their uploaded copy of the photo, all in the Flickr website (but you will need to download a plugin in order to have it run on your browser)
Apart from the editing tool, I like the feature of Flickr to allow direct blog entry into famous blogging service such as Blogger, WordPress and etc. By simple click from your photo, you will be brought to a page for your blog entry with the photo you have just selected, and once completed, only a few simple steps are needed for your new photo blog to appear in your favorite blogging site.
And of coz, not to mentioned one of my favorite features, the privacy setting per photo. Since I had mentioned what I prefer in Facebook section, I will not elaborate further for the same thing here. :)
What I think Flickr should improved:
- Photo uploading speed
- Capacity (100MB Max per user)
I have tried uploading the same photo as I did in Facebook using Flickr, but it turn uot to be unexpectedly slow. It took me 1 min and 10 seconds to upload the 1.42MB photo to their server. I believe there should be something that can be done to ensure a better upload speed. And related to photo uploading, Although you don’t get to see the preview of the photo as what it does in Facebook, but you may still add multiple files and upload them all at once to your Flickr account.
However, what concern me the most will be the capacity allocated for each users. A merely 100MB of storage space for each user is simply too small, especially with todays DLSR image quality up to few MB per photo, it does need long for the 100MB to be all filled up. For me I do sometimes use the web photo hosting service as my backup copy of all my precious photos, thus there is no way I would want to resize my photo from its original quality to a lower one before uploading it. Who know one day I might just want to download the original quality and size image from the web again, just in case my local copy had gone missing or corrupted?
Picasa is another service which only do photo hosting. As in Flickr, Picasa Web do provide basic functionality such as rotating your photo, viewing in different size (via magnifying features), printing and adding of caption for your photo.
Great job done:
- Photo editing features
- Useful client Picasa application
- Photo & camera information available
- Copy or move between album
- Fast upload speed
- Easy sharing
What had been done by PicasaWeb is smart enough to offload their server with all kinds of editing feature, by transferring them to your local PC. PicasaWeb did that by deploying an offline Picasa client application (which has to be installed on your machine as an application) and have the online photo downloaded temporarily to your local PC and edit the copy locally. Picasa did it smart also by providing features to sync your local copy of the photo back to their server once you have done editing on it. Using the Picasa client, you may do editing on your photo by adjusting different levels of contrast, white balance, lighting and adding special effects.
Another good thing about this Picasa client is that you can also use it to edit any of your photo stored within your local hard drive, and have the option to upload them all to your picasa web account directly from the client application with a pretty good upload speed as well (~19 seconds to upload the same photo). This client application also comes with a nice build-in image viewer to allow you to easily browse through all the photo stored within your offline storage.
Back to the Picasa Web, it also provide information on your camera and camera setting used to take the picture. For people (especially photographer) who would like peek into these details, Picasa Web is the only web service among the three of my comparison to provide this capability. I do also like the service from Picasa Web to allow simple move or copy of the uploaded photo from one album to another, and it is done so fast, without you noticing it, it would have done moving or copying hundreds of already uploaded photo to your new album
Picasa web also allow the sharing of the uploaded photo to anyone (even not Picasa Web user), what you need is just to send them the external link of your album, and you friends will be able to go to the link to view all your pictures. As long as you have set your album’s privacy setting to public. You may also set your album to unlisted should you choose to make it only your private collection without sharing it out.
What I think Picasa Web should improved:
- Picasa web upload tool
- Capacity (1GB Max per user)
What I think can be improved on Picasa Web, is that although the Picasa client done a good job in uploading photo, but they will still need to consider for people who are using shared computer to upload their photo whereby installation of application are restricted. As of today, Picasa Web’s online uploading tool only allows selection of up to 5 photo per upload. Meaning if I have more than 5 photo to upload, I’ll need to repeat the upload process (5 at a time) until I complete upload of all my photo. Yet, not to mention that during the upload, there is no progress bar or any kind of indication that how is the upload progressing. The only way you will know is the automatic refresh of the page upon completion of the upload.
Although 1GB per user seems to be far better than Flickr, but I am not sure whether this is really enough for all types of users. :) but at least for me I would think that the more the merrier, isn’t it? :)
If you are sharing picture only among your friends and family, without hesitating to even editing them, go for Facebook as it is more concentrating on sharing among your own online community.
If you are a photographer and looking for some photo hosting site to showcase your work and profile, go for Picasa Web, as it has more storage capacity and it provide rather full photo hosting and editing features with both its online and offline client version.
If you are a person just simply want to share your numerous amount of self-taken cute (or acting cute) photo of yourself, go for Flickr, because you got lots of effect and frames to be added in to your online photo just to make yourself or your picture looks more “artistic” or “cute”
Please do not hesitate to comment if you have a different thought on this.. :)