A while ago, my wife and I had a ‘digital photo scare’. It looked like some of our most precious photos had been lost during the latest cleanup of her computer. I spent an entire morning searching her system for any and all JPEG images and was ultimately able to find all of them in folders with names like ‘backup old computer’ and ‘digital photos old’. Oops.
There were a couple of things wrong with the way we were handling our photographs.
- No backups – harddrive failure would have meant disaster.
- No photo management – using different PCs to load the photos off the camera, not erasing the camera’s card, sharing them through obscure folders and moving them from one Windows install to the next had really taken its toll. I found 10,000 files which turned out to be only 2,900 unique photographs.
The backup thing was easy to solve. A nice little Western Digital MyBook now has copies of my images as well as every other important file on my system (thanks also to the wonderful (and free!) Cobian Backup software).
Photo management was an altogether different problem. All of the solutions I’d used before had their own, very rigid way of storing your images and made them accessible through their own interface only (unless you felt like going through C:\program files\some software\images\hundreds of folders). And they were paid solutions, which I don’t like because of the supplier decides to raise prices you’re pretty much forced to go along.
In comes Picasa. I’d played with Picasa version one for a bit, and remembered it allowed full control over your folder structure. And then it was bought by Google, made free and version 2 was released. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now, and love it to death. What surprised me most is that it didn’t annoy me at all. Every button is where I’d like it and every feature works the way I expected it to.
But the biggest surprise was the Web Album feature. I opened a Flickr account a while ago to put the pictures online that my oldest daughter made with her own digicam. I found the uploading process tedious, both through the website and the ‘Uploadr’ tool. The 3 ‘photo set’ limit for free accounts also rubbed me the wrong way. I thought Flickr was supposed to be cool.
Picasa’s Web Album feature allows you to publish entire galleries easily from within the Picasa application, and it’s fast and easy. There’s a 1GB limit for all your images, a different approach from Flickr’s ‘per month’ limits. 1GB total will work for me, and the news item about the move from 250MB to 1GB said ‘and counting…’.
At this time, Flickr probably has the better web album feature (more photoblog-like, more web 2.0), but when you compare the Picasa application to Uploadr there really isn’t a contest. As a complete solution for storing and publishing your images, Picasa is unrivaled. Especially among free solutions. But then Flickr is cool and they were there first. It’s the Apple of photo publishing and has it’s own ‘zealot’ following. I guess Picasa is the orange. But definitely not a lemon.