The new SmugMug photo service joins a growing group of picture-sharing services that let you phone in your snapshots from one of the new camera cell phones that are proving so popular.
This feature opens a lot of interesting possibilities, not least the prospect of nearly instant viewing of
an event within seconds of when it happens. There are nearly two dozen photo-sharing sites now available on the Web, some free, some not. Either way, the business of showing off the new car, cat or baby no longer requires either a photo processing store or the postal service. Putting your photos online has become the fastest and easiest way to share pictures, with anyone from your uncle Max to a worldwide news service.
Market research indicates that camera phones currently account for one-fourth of all new cell phone sales, and are more popular abroad than in the United States. Snap a picture, phone it in to a Web site. Groups of photos can be made available only to viewers who have a password, or to the world in general. The person who posts the photos has his own password. In SmugMug and several other services, that person is also able to edit the pictures he has transmitted. Viewers have the option of seeing pictures in one of several attractive “”gallery”” formats, including “”thumbnails”” for quick browsing of what’s available.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL YOU GET
In most photo-sharing services you can download a picture from the Web site and print it out yourself. Some, like the early service Ofoto, are in business primarily to sell you professionally done prints. Nearly all the services sell greeting cards, calendars, note cards and coffee mugs that can be customized with a picture or pictures selected from the gallery. DotPhoto recently went to the extent of selling St. Patrick’s Day gifts decorated with your photos.
Digital pictures can be sent in to the sharing services from any source. In other words, you don’t have to have a camera phone, and most people wouldn’t. If you download pictures from a digital camera to your computer, you would then have the opportunity to edit those pictures before uploading them to a sharing service.
With all services you should download their free software before posting photos. If you download the software, you can typically just drag your photo file over to the send button or type the name of the file to send and walk away from it. If you do it without the service’s software it can seem to take forever. Below is a list of a few services that have received good ratings from their users:
SmugMug (www.smugmug.com): Charges $30 a year. Has very attractive and easy-to-use display features. Can handle high-resolution photos up to 8MB (8 megabytes) per picture.
Ofoto (www.ofoto.com): Free. One of the oldest and largest of the picture-sharing services. This one is owned by Kodak. Good service, good quality.
SnapFish (www.snapfish.com): Free. Some editing features. Can send pictures from camera phone for $2 a month. No size restriction.
Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com): Free. A large service, easy to navigate, high quality. Your first 15 print requests are free. After that, prints cost 25 cents to 39 cents each, depending on size, which is pretty much the standard price among all the picture services.
ClubPhoto (www.clubphoto.com): Free. This service belongs to Ulead, the maker of some of the best picture-editing software. It can accept pictures directly from Adobe Photoshop. You can have pictures printed onto cookies, chocolate bars, jewelry and even the frosting on a whole cake. You can buy prints on canvas, which can be stretched onto a frame as a portrait.
DotPhoto (www.dotphoto.com): Only service that lets you add sound and voice to your pictures. Can send pictures from a camera phone. Can link directly to a gallery from your own Web site. Has photo Xmas ornaments, playing cards, Rubik’s cubes, etc. Thirty free prints when you join. For $4 a month extra you can also reverse the process and display your stored picture galleries on your camera phone.
Ryze (www.ryze.com): Oriented toward groups. Pictures of everyone in your graduating class, for example. Photos limited to 200k.
DOWNLOADS TO LIVE BY
Selecting a download from the Web always causes us a little bit of anxiety. We wonder whether this is going to place spyware on our computer, put us on a junk mail list, contain a virus, etc.
At Doc’s Mega Download Web Site (www.docsdownloads.com), about four dozen useful freeware and share programs are available, and Doc says he has run them all. He promises they are free of spyware and other problems, and that you will like them. Good site; we haven’t had any problems so far.
The Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0 (starter edition) can be downloaded for free from www.adobe.com. This is one of the best photo album programs we’ve reviewed, and you can’t beat the price. Just click on Adobe Photoshop Album on the Adobe home page and you will see the freebie offer along the left-hand side of the page.
Advanced PDF Manager from AKS-Labs lets you search PDF documents and convert them to normal text. Normally, a PDF document can be viewed by a recipient, but it is actually just an image of a document and as such it can not be searched for key words. The Advanced PDF Manager can search through all the PDF documents in your hard drive and can also search for key words in zip files, without your having to open the zip file. Advanced PDF Manager is $60 at www.aks-labs.com.