Photo faceoff: Flickr vs. Picasa
16 August, 2007 33 Comments
Flickr vs. Picasa… fight!
For a while I’ve been mulling which online photo storage service to use and this week I picked a winner for my expanding photo collection.
To back up a little, I have my own domain at noble.gen.nz which is hosted with a disk quota of 100MB. For small websites and a moderate collection of resized digital photos that amount of storage is fine, but even with my image sizes of 500 to 600px I’ve outgrown it (well almost).
Click through for the full post, the reasons I’m going with Picasa and a look at what both services offer…
While Flickr is probably more popular than Picasa, both services have a solid tag and search functionality with a built in social aspect allowing you to track what your friends have uploaded. For different ways to search, Flickr goes the extra mile by letting you explore the “most recent photos”, “popular tags” or by selecting a specific date for example.
As a quick (and highly inaccurate) popularity measure, here’s the number of search results from a few popular tags,
“wedding” – Flickr = 4.8million, Picasa = 5.2million
“party” – Flickr = 3.8million, Picasa = 2.6million
“family” – Flickr = 2.9million, Picasa = 2.3million
That doesn’t really prove anything, other than both sites are popular! Regarding the social aspect, this may or may not be important to you and probably shouldn’t be a deciding factor outright. Both afterall provide RSS feeds so you can track your friends in your feed reader of choice.
So, how did I choose? I narrowed it down to three key points that were important to me…
This was definitely number one for me. I wanted a free service primarily because I’m already forking out cash to run noble.gen.nz (and I’m always keen on a cheap option!) Both Flickr and Picasa offer a free service, but with limitations on the service at Flickr – more on that below… And a word of warning here, Flickr’s FAQ states “if your free account is inactive for 90 consecutive days, it will be deleted”. Boo to that. Picasa wins.
Bigger is better! Picasa gives you 1GB of storage with the option to buy more (6GB for US$20 per year – shared storage with your Gmail account). Flickr doesn’t state a storage limit, instead they have an upload limit of 100MB per month and limit your “photostream” to the 200 most recent images. The “pro” option at Flickr costs US$24.95 which will give you unlimited uploads, storage, bandwidth and more. I don’t like the fact that Flickr hides photos over the 200 limit for a free account, so again Picasa wins.
How can I display and organise my photos? Picasa lets you create as many “albums” as you like to sort your photos into. Flickr lets you have just 3 “sets” to group your photos in, otherwise they all get added to a single “photostream”. For unlimited sets at Flickr you’ll have to go pro. Sadly, neither of the services appear to allow sub-albums/sets (as I make use of in my personal gallery), instead all albums or sets have to sit at the top level. This is a shame as I like being able to have a “travel” album that contains individual trip sub-albums for example. For the free option, Picasa is clearly better and again wins.
For describing the photo, both services let you edit tags and a caption for the image, with Flickr also letting you give each photo a title. Both have a mapping feature letting you set a location for the photo on an interactive map. For the technical data relating to the photo, both services will read and display the EXIF data from a digital camera such as shutter speed, date/time etc. And for viewing a bunch of images, both have a slideshow feature built in. Finally, both services let you specify a name to make a more user friendly URL to give to your friends or family.
Another most excellent feature of Picasa Web Albums is that you can upload to the site via the free Picasa desktop application which is a most excellent utility to organise and manage all the images stored on your computer.
Uploading to the web album is a breeze – just select some photos, click the “web album” button, choose an album or specify a new one and you’re done! And if you’re after simple photo editing, the desktop app does that too with basic fixes including cropping, rotating, removing redeye, colour and contrast adjustments, basic effects and more! Even if you don’t use the web albums I highly recommend the desktop app for managing your photo collection.
So there you have it. Given my three key points above and the integration with the desktop app I was already using, Picasa was a clear winner for me.
If you’re after an online photo service give Picasa a go. And if you already use Gmail then all you need to do is login to add the service to your Google account.
For now, I’ve moved Nic and Andrew’s photos over to Picasa and in the future watch for more to appear… You can find my albums at,