When “free” isn’t quite “free”. Or, remember to read the fine print on online photo sharing sites.

A quick comparison of some online photo sharing sites.

I have been a happy user of Flickr (I use the “frugal” account) till yesterday when I got a big pop-up box about a 200 image limit. Apparently flickr does offer unlimited free image storage but the fine print says that only the most recent 200 can be shared. Not the worst thing in the world but I began to think of all the other things I did not like about Flickr and so I started to look around and see whether I had some other alternatives.

There are any number of online image sharing sites. Many of them are also linked with photo printing services, and arguably that is where the money is. It appears that the devil is most certainly hiding in the fine print. Here is a short summary of what I found. I’m planning to move to Shutterfly; do you have some experience with them which makes this a bad idea?

Free Account

Paid Accounts

Flickr

http://www.flickr.com/help/limits/

Free account has unlimited (modest resolution) image
storage. No more than 200 can be shared at a time. There are upload limits on the number and size of pictures that you can upload.

Unlimited upload, storage and high resolution storage.

$24.95 per year

Photobucket

http://photobucket.com/faq?catID=29&catSelected=f&topicID=320

http://photobucket.com/faq?catID=41&catSelected=f&topicID=323

http://photobucket.com/faq?catID=39&catSelected=f&topicID=520

Free account has limited (modest resolution) images.

Periodic logins are required; failure to do so will deactivate
media

Unlimited capacity, FTP uploads (what a concept), no
advertising, personal URL’s

$24.95 per year

Shutterfly

http://www.shutterfly.com

Free unlimited storage of pictures. Images stored at high resolution. But you cannot download at high resolution. Personalized web portal.

I don’t think they even offer a paid account option. My
kind of place!

Snapfish (HP)

References

http://getsatisfaction.com/snapfish/topics/downloading_snapfish_photos

http://www1.snapfish.com/helppricing#hires

Snapfish offers unlimited photo sharing and storage. Customers must be “active”. The bar for an active customer is that you just need to
make one purchase a year.

But read this
link
. You can store high resolution images but downloading high
resolution images is not free.

OUCH!

No paid account.

Picasa (Google)

1GB limit (seems odd for the company that claims that
storage is unlimited).

Other limits also apply.

No paid offering that I could find.

Smugmug

No ads! Now, isn’t this a great graphic to illustrate the  success in targeted advertising and reinforce their point?

Smug Mug No Ads!
Smug Mug "No Ads!"

Reference

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/photo-sharing-sites-compared/

No free offering. There is a 14 day free trial.

Standard: $39.95/year

Power: $59.95/year

Pro: $149.95/year

Winkflash

http://www.winkflash.com/

http://www.winkflash.com/content/storage.asp

Free image hosting.

Free unlimited storage.

Free high resolution image downloads.

100% FREE

Too good to be true?

MPIX

http://mpix.com/

Free site for 60 days. After that, need an order to keep
content online.

MPIX is a professional print outfit; online sharing is not
their primary business.

WHCC (White House Custom Color)

http://www.whcc.com/

WHCC is a professional print outfit. They don’t do photo
galleries and sharing stuff. Go here if you want serious prints.

Not offered.

Not offered.

I think I’m heading to shutterfly. On Sept 5th I found this Shutterfly article (answer id 181)

“Currently, we do not have full resolution downloading available. However, we do have an Archive DVD service that you can order which contains full resolution copies of your pictures. The images on an Archive DVD will not include any of the Shutterfly enhancements or rotations that have been applied to an image loaded to Shutterfly.”

What BS is this? I guess I’m going to stick with Flickr for a while longer.

Also read http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1023&message=32634142

3 thoughts on “When “free” isn’t quite “free”. Or, remember to read the fine print on online photo sharing sites.”

  1. further info on “active” user at snapfish. They offer free prints or prints for pennies from time-time. When my “inactivity” came up, I used the freebie they gave me and retained my “activeness”.

    YMMV

    Like

  2. Regarding Picasa…

    Agree that the free storage option is pretty pitiful. Nevertheless you can add more. When you “upgrade” to paid storage on your Google account the storage is shared across all Google services, including Picasa.

    The big attraction for using Picasa is (of course) the desktop tool which is very good indeed and nicely integrated into the online service.

    I think we’re still in the stone age with theses services though. For instance I should be able to upload an album to Picasa and then share that seamlessly through (say) Facebook. The APIs are in place but the desire to make things easy apparently isn’t…

    Joe

    Like

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