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SnakebyteXX
01-17-2005, 03:50 PM
By Daniel Terdiman

02:00 AM Jan. 17, 2005 PT

These days, nearly everyone has a digital camera or camera phone. And many new online services offer varying features for people who want to share their pictures, post them to blogs, or tag or comment on others' photos.

Here's a roundup of four of the best of these services.


Today's the Day. Flickr: The standard-bearer of the photo-sharing genre, Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/) has 230,000 members, is growing at least 5 percent a week and currently hosts more than 3.5 million images.

Flickr members can upload, store and organize photos. They can also use their camera phones to post photos automatically to their blogs.

Most photos and albums on the service are public, and users can post tags, comments and descriptions on any public photo. By tagging photos, anyone can create groups of photos that share common tags, such as "San Francisco" or "bridges." Those groups can then be designated public or private.

Anyone, even nonmembers, can find photos on the service by searching for tags. And Flickr has a list of the most popular tags, meaning those that have the most photos of specific subjects.

Flickr's free membership includes 10 MB of uploads a month, three albums and the ability to display up to 100 photos at a time. For $3.50 a month, Flickr allows up to 1 GB of uploads and unlimited albums and displayed photos. Both free and paid members get a personalized homepage.

For now, Flickr doesn't offer a printing service. And while that is clearly not the service's game, it does put Flickr at a slight disadvantage compared with some of its smaller rivals.

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Smugmug: Unlike many of its competitors, Smugmug (http://www.smugmug.com/) doesn't offer a free service. It charges $30 a year for unlimited photo storage, quick e-mail support and no ads.

Smugmug also puts the most emphasis on printing of any of the major sharing-oriented services, offering its members 26 different print sizes on three types of finishes.

It has a full set of collaborative features. The service's 42,000 subscribers can create public galleries with their photos, or make their galleries private (requiring a viewer to know the URL) or password-protected. Smugmug co-founder Chris MacAskill said 98 percent of the galleries on the service are public.

Like Flickr, smugmug also lets users tag photos, and anyone, even nonmembers, can search images on the service by typing in keywords. Its tools allow members to tag as many as 100 photos at once. That is useful, MacAskill said, for easily categorizing photos from a trip or an event.

MacAskill said he thinks approximately half of smugmug's users tag others' photos. This suggests a slightly less involved community of members than Flickr's.

Another feature unique to smugmug is that its members can use its tools to design a personalized, customized homepage. Thus, if a member is partial to photos of motorcycles, he or she could create a homepage based on such a motif.

Finally, smugmug members can post photos from camera phones to their galleries or to blogs, though MacAskill said the bulk of the service's members use standard digital cameras.

HeyPix: A very album-oriented sharing service, Heypix (http://www.heypix.com/) differentiates itself from its competitors by offering 10 built-in album templates, plus tools for users to create their own.

The service launched in mid-December and currently has only 2,000 users and fewer than 100,000 photos. But it is growing quickly, adding more than 5,000 photos a day.

Today's the Day. Like its competitors, HeyPix (http://www.heypix.com/) allows members to tag their photos. However, in the current version -- a new version should be coming out in the next few weeks -- members cannot tag others' photos.

HeyPix is aiming at the social-networking crowd, so the service is organized around the concept of friends. Thus, anyone on a friends list can drag photos from one friend's album to their own and vice versa.

However, adding people to a friends list is a one-way street: Members do not have to consent to be added. Someone can be chosen and added to a friends list, and as many social-networking services have discovered, that may not sit well with people who are added without their knowledge or desire.

Nevertheless, co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman downplay the potential for problems with the friends lists, and instead say that's what the service's members want. They say the friends lists, unlike tagging, make it easy to view friends' photos, as well as comments they've made about other friends' photos.

Further, friends can see who has viewed their photos and when they did so.

HeyPix's free service offers 50 MB of storage and bandwidth. Its premium plans cost between $5 and $8 a month, and offer up to 3 GB of storage and up to 5 GB of bandwidth. HeyPix does not offer printing services.

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Buzznet: With about 60,000 users and 800,000 photos, Buzznet bridges the features of its competitors.

Perhaps its most unusual element is that it partners with third parties, such as rock bands or newspapers, to build custom, collaborative sites.

Thus, during the recent storms and landslides in Ventura County, California, the Buzznet site for the Ventura County Star allowed members of the stricken community to upload and share photos.

Still, the service works for everyday users as well, with a heavy focus on commenting on others' photos, said the site's founder, Marc Brown.

Its free service, which allows for uploading 60 photos a month, gives users a Buzznet (http://www.buzznet.com/) website. Those who pay $36 a year can password-protect their galleries, and get additional storage and their own domain name.

Like Flickr, Buzznet allows users to offer RSS feeds of their photos, as well as to tag their own and others' photos. Members can change their preferences to keep their photos private or to prevent others from tagging them.

For now, Buzznet members cannot print their photos, but Brown said he hopes to add that feature later this year.

link (http://wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,66294,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2)