I use Flickr to keep my pictures online and refer them from my photoblog. This is not a very high-frequency usage; very like this blog. Yet, I have managed to hit Flickr’s 200 photos ceiling very quickly in about 3 large sets of pictures. Yeah, I am giving thought to the ‘Pro’ subscription option. But, there is a slight resistance in my mind, and a feeling that if this were a Google service, things could have been different.
A short search found PicasaWeb in its ‘test’ phase. This is no Flickr competitor yet. But, needing some alternative to Flickr a little urgently I decided to check this out. As of this writing PicasaWeb is less than 100 days after launch and not even in Beta, needless to say this is too early for a review and I am by no means berating it.
What follows is a short comparative negative-points analysis (for brevity) — so, if there is a point about some limitation on one service, the other service has a (at least relatively) better option on the same.
Problems with PicasaWeb.
1. You seem to need a gmail account to use the album — not a very strong negative now.
2. You need Picasa installed to upload pictures in bulk — this could be quite restrictive. Though, there appears to be a downloader for Mac users. There is also an ActiveX upload-plugin if your browser supports ActiveX else you are limited to uploading single picture at a time.
3. Not very friendly to collaboration — uncomfortable comment handling, single tag for a picture, complicated tracking of friend albums, no multi-resolution storage of pictures. There is EXIF tracking for pictures though.
4. 250MB limit in free version — with high resolution pictures you can quickly hit the ceiling. But, this is better than the 200 picture limit by Flickr. Google is restricting by space rather than number.
5. A Bulk subscription storage limit of 6GB. If I pay, this is too small a storage size.
6. All extrage storage is eliminated if your subscription expires. This is inline with the pay-for-storage policy, but as a user I am not happy to loose my pictures just because I stepped down from the subscription. Maybe that is because I know Flickr will not delete my pictures.
Problems with Flickr.
1. Does not handle EXIF tags — this kills half the fun with digital photography.
2. Downloading pictures in bulk is not easy — its multiple clicks to reach the right resolution for download of every picture.
3. 20MB upload limit per month — could be uncomfortable for some people.
4. 200 picture tracking limit — thats a very short memory! But, the fact that even without subscription all your uploaded pictures are always retained in all resolutions supported is a powerful plus point.
While Flickr has moved to (what they call) the ‘Gamma’ stage, PicasaWeb is still in its early ‘test’ stage; there is still a chance for Google to clean its act up.
The Internet has not yet reached the critical-mass point for on-line photo services like it has for e-mail services today. Check the advantages for allowing people to keep good high-resolution digitial pictures online — thats for another post.