Friday, March 20, 2009

Photosharing - comparing Flickr, Photobucket and Zooomr


How do you do decide which photosharing site to go with? If free is your criteria, there are certainly many options to choose from. Most free photo sharing sites are ad supported and come with a certain GB capacity limit. If you upgrade to a pro account, which can run anywhere from $20-$25 per year, there are typically no limits and no advertisements.

We took a look at the most popular photosharing sites' features and did a comparison to help you decide which photo site is best suited for your needs. We compared Flickr, Photobucket and Zooomr and then test drove each of the sites to see how well they did. Check out our unscientific findings after the jump.

Sign in was easy but our eyes had to get accustomed to the in-your-face ad placement. We immediately created an album and uploaded photos using the bulk uploader. 97 photos were uploaded in a snap and the speed was impressive.

Next we created a group album, a nice feature where you share photos with members of a group and they can add photos to the album, depending on the permissions you set. Tagging photos was easy, although, it did take some time to load.

The slideshow feature was straightforward enough and if you want to get really fancy you can create a Remix, powered by Adobe Premiere Express. It's a slideshow where you add transitions, text, graphics and music. You can then share your creations in several ways including, email, post to various social networks like MySpace and Facebook, post on blogs and websites, and IM.

Regrettably, the only way you can comment on someone else's photos (indirectly at that) is by adding their album to your page as a favorite. There are no direct comments.

Photobucket has also partnered with Meez to put up an avatar designer you can play around with, if you're into that kind of thing. After you're finished uploading your photos and sending them to friends, you can click on the 'buy prints' tab and start spending your money on everything from stickers, photo albums, mugs to prints.

Sign up is quick and the user interface is easy on the eyes without the glare of ads Photobucket subjects you to. The web photo uploader did a nice job. However, we exceeded our 10 MB bandwidth restriction as well as our 1 MB file size limit right out of the gate. Instead of the 97 photos we were able to upload on Photobucket, Flickr sent an uh-oh and we had to pare down to 84 photos.

Flickr also makes you resize your photos if they exceed the 1 MB limit, whereas Photobucket does it for you. Thanks Photobucket! Unfortunately, our initial upload was the limit for our monthly bandwidth allowance, unless of course we sprang for a Pro Account for $24.95 as Flickr encouraged us to do.

Flickr does have groups but free account holders can only send individual photos to up to 10 groups. Pros can add any one photo to up to 60 groups. This is not the same kind of group feature Photobucket has where group members can upload a bunch of photos to a group album all at once.

Flickr calls albums sets and with the free version you can have up to 3. You can view your photos in a slideshow format which is prepared automatically for you and allows limited customization, as well as no embedding capabilities.

Thanks to its partnership with Picnik, Flickr has a nice image editing tool so you can do basic image editing. A nice touch is the Organizr where you can drag and drop photos to do batch editing and tagging,

What sets Flickr apart is its excellent social networking component. You can search for your friends, subscribe to their feeds, leave comments on theirs and other people's photos and really become part of a community.

Sign in was smooth and we liked how the ads were discreetly placed, as well as the ability to customize your personal page using various templates. Zooomr is known for no limit photosharing and it has some nice social networking features such as tagging, geotagging, RSS feeds, and the ability to leave comments.

Unfortunately, the site leaves first time users in a bewildered state. There is no FAQ section, the so called Knowledge Center begs for basic user information, and the About Us section provides information on the site's founder and executive team.

You could watch several video tutorials to give you information on special features, but basic information like why you should sign up is lacking. We did find a Zooomr FAQ section outside the site thanks to Google, and that was from 2007. The intro page gives you the typical PR rant but nothing to back it up, no hyperlinks for you to do your own discovery within the site, just a sign-up, sign-in, or a mobile link.

There is an email support link, but after two days, we still did not get a response to our email. Still, if you like the idea of unlimited uploads, and great social networking features, Zooomr might be for you. You'll have to figure it out as you go along and have a low frustration level. A quick review of their blog shines a spotlight on bugs, glitches, downtime, etc. The words "proceed at your own risk" come to mind.

Naturally, the lack of introductory information didn't stop us and so we plowed ahead. We uploaded photos via the bulk uploader. It wasn't smooth sailing like with Photobucket and Flickr but after a few attempts, we did get our pictures to load, but not all of them. A nice feature is people tag which allows you to tag individuals within your photo. You can also search by people too.

You can create groups and make the settings private or public, geotag your photos, and comment directly on others' photos. There's also Zipline (essentially Twitter) where you comment on what you're doing and can see what others have posted.

Between the three of the sites, Photobucket was the easiest to navigate and offered the most features. Downsides would be the annoying ads and the lack of social networking capabilities like comments. On the other hand, Flickr and Zooomr had a nice user interface with minimal ad intrusion as well as great social networking features. Flickr's free account is skimpier on bandwidth while Zooomr's is unlimited. If the social networking component is essential to you then you would want to go with either Flickr or Zooomr.

What do you think? Comment below.


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Hi, I am Hua, a chinese expat residing in India excited about windows, linux and all things tech

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