Photo faceoff: Flickr vs. Picasa

    

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).

Enter online services. There are loads of photo sharing websites out there, with my two finalists being Flickr (a Yahoo service) and Picasa Web Albums (from Google).

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…

1. Price.
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.

2. Storage.
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.

3. Organisation.
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.

Extra Features
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.

Desktop Integration
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.

Picasa

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,
http://picasaweb.google.com/noblephotos

About Chris
A self confessed geek, meteorologist (aka weather forecaster), father & proud kiwi mainlander living, working & playing in Wellington, New Zealand.

33 Responses to Photo faceoff: Flickr vs. Picasa

  1. Clair says:

    Hi Chris!
    Great comparison! Thanks!

    I have a question though. I found another comparison which showed the same photo on both Flickr and Picasa. The Flickr photo was definitely sharper. The explanation was that Flickr displays a higher quality (more pixels) photo. I get the impression that you can choose the size (quality) to upload. Can you shed any light? Thanks.
    Clair
    PS: Right now I’m leaning towards Picasa for two reasons:
    Easy organizing and uploading and full window slide show.

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Clair,

    I expect the comparison you refer to is this one. It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on there as the author gives no details on exactly how the photos were uploaded and with what settings. Both services have limits on the physical dimensions of the image displayed in the album (eg 1024px for a free Flickr account) and on the file size (eg 20MB with Picasa and 5MB with a free Flickr account). Aditionally, Picasa has extra upload settings including an “optimised” option to speed up the upload (presumably by reducing the quality of the image) which might explain the differences displayed in the above blog.

    I’d like to test this myself and when I do I’ll post back here…

    Cheers, Chris.

  3. Pingback: Flickr vs Picasa - A Quality Comparison « Noble Notes

  4. Chris says:

    A quick follow-up.

    I have now posted my quality comparison here. In short, there is NO DIFFERENCE in quality between photos hosted on Flickr and Picasa, BUT, you have to be careful how you link to the photo on Picasa if you want the original full-quality image.

    I hope that helps.

  5. Gav says:

    Hey, thanks for that. I’m going to be travelling to Oz which is why I need these services – hopefully get a photo similar to the above myself!

    I’m basically going to be using one of these services to a) upload and store images (in case I lose/break all my hardware/camera etc) and to b) post images in slideshows on a WordPress blog.

    What would you recommend for this? I’m really struggling to make a choice between them.

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Gav,

    Regarding WordPress integration, I believe you’ll have more luck with Flickr. In the past I ran my own install of WordPress on my personal website and now run this hosted .com blog – both of which have plugins or widgets for Flickr. I must admit I haven’t looked into slideshows or other integration options for Picasa, but suspect there’s less options there.

    As for using them as a storage service while you travel, you might want to check out these respective FAQ’s on storage – Flickr and Picasa – basically both allow large filesizes, Flickr (5MB free, 10MB Pro) and Picasa (20MB) but the issue you might run into is getting the original full-size photos back again once home (in the event of camera loss etc). Here, I reckon Picasa is better as they give you access to the full size photo for free (eg here), while Flickr (free) only lets you have a 1024 resized image (eg here). You’ll have to pay to go pro at Flickr to get the original photos (and to get more than 200 in your photostream of course).

    The alternative for photo backup while travelling is to use an online storage site (like mediamax.com – can’t vouch for them though), or as I’ve recommended friends to do – burn out a bunch to CD in an internet cafe or at friends/relatives and post it home (burn 2 copies if you’re worried and bin the second when someone confirms the first arrives!)

    Hope that helps and enjoy the travels!

    Cheers, Chris.

  7. Gav says:

    Hi Chris,

    That really does help. I’m going to keep using Picasa on my laptop to extract the photos, but then you’re right – Flickr is much better for the WP integration. We’ll use that then. The difficulty is in storing the original photos, I think the key is just to be a bit paranoid! I’ll probably get a spare memory card or memory stick, stash it somewhere else, copy the files to my iPod (never far away from my body when I leave my bags behind) and like you said, upload all to Flickr and burn as much as I can to CD when I can. I think uploading large volumes of photos might be tough out in the back of beyond in New Zealand, so I can’t rely on online storage that much for the originals.

    I suppose $24 is a decent VFM if I want to go Pro at Flickr – £12 if you use proper English money! ;o) Zoomr hasn’t seemed to fulfil its early promise has it?

    http://www.designight.com/downloads/piflasa/ is a nice flash plugin for Picasa but Picasa doesn’t seem to offer the nice feeds that Flickr does (eg random or last few photos. Check out my blog for an example of the Flickr integration (following Chris’ advice above).

    Failing that I’ll just have to remember it all!

  8. Adam says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for a great comparison. I’m just deciding which photo sharing service to use. The major deciding factor has to be ease of wordpress integration. So I think Flickr wins…

  9. Pingback: Picasa photo move complete! « Noble Notes

  10. Brett says:

    Should have gone with SmugMug for what you want to do.

  11. Chris says:

    Brett – well, no. Given that Smugmug is not free, that rules it out for me! That said however, I know people using it and it is a nice service.

  12. christygriner says:

    I prefer picassa. Yet, I need to upload photos from our travels onto my blog. I guess, I am going to use flickr pro. It will be hard to go back to flickr after using picassa for so long.

  13. Daniel says:

    Hey guys, I use and love Picassa and use a plug-in called kpicassa (or something similar). I’m not at my personal computer and can’t remember the exact name. It works great and the updates themselfs as I update my picassa gallery. It’s a plugin for wordpress so I don’t know what software you use to operate your blogs but it suits my needs great and recommend you check it out before going to flickr.

  14. Dominic says:

    I have used both and I have to say that the biggest advantage with Picasa is the overall wonderfullness of their desktop based program for indexing and retouching your photos. Who has time to wait for every function to load every time you want to do ANYTHING to a photo on Flickr, which to my knowledge is all web based?

  15. Chris says:

    Dominic – you’re dead right! The more I use Picasa the more I love it. The desktop app is super for organising and viewing my collection and like you say, simple touch-ups are easy – red eye correction in particular is a breeze in Picasa. I especially like being able to caption photos in the client, then quickly upload a batch of photos with those captions to an existing album!

  16. David says:

    I’ve idled my free Flickr account for over a year, and it hasn’t been deleted.

  17. Chris says:

    Good to hear David. The 90 day deletion clause is still in their FAQ which surprises me.
    So if you haven’t used Flickr in over a year, are you using Picasa instead, or some other service?

  18. wiggler says:

    Great post.

    I’m moving to Picasa. 🙂

  19. Pingback: Backup Solution: Flickr for Pics and Movies | Jordan's Technology Blog

  20. stephen says:

    You stated, “Finally, both services let you specify a name to make a more user friendly URL to give to your friends or family.” But it looks like Picasa automatically uese your gmail username as part of your URL instead of letting you creat one like on youtube or other sites. Is there a way to creat a different URL that i dont realize? I want to use it for my website, so i want my site name in the URL and not my actual name.
    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

    -Stephen

  21. Chris says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Visit your Picasa settings here,
    http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/settings

    then look for “Your gallery URL” under the general settings. You should have a “Want to add a new Google username?” link. Follow through on that to add extra Google usernames, then you can revisit your Picasa general settings to change your url in the same section.

    Good luck!

  22. Tony says:

    Nice comparison thanks.
    I have a Google account so like idea of Picasa, don’t have/want Yahoo account as tainted by Telecom association, so leaning towards Picasa over Flickr.
    The unlimited albums feature also appeals I can use one for each property I am marketing.

  23. jC says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS COMPARISON!

  24. Tronam says:

    As much as I like Picasa’s entry level Lightroom-lite desktop photo application and online Google interface, the degradation of image quality for resized gallery photos was a deal breaker for me. Flickr’s image resizer is of much better quality. Another factor not mentioned here is the Flickr community itself, which is home to thousands of wonderful amateur and notable professional photographers. That being said, I’m a big fan of Google in general and use their services all the time. I just haven’t been able to switch over for my photography. It may be $25/year for Flickr Pro, but it’s worth it for me.

  25. Chris says:

    Tronam – good point on the community. When I started uploading photos years ago it was solely for friends and family. Now however, I’m more interested in wider discovery and sharing which Flickr seems to own at this point. I love Picasa/Google for the desktop app and free storage etc, but if I want my best photos found (and perhaps used) by others then I upload them to both services!

  26. Bush Walker says:

    Dear Chris

    A great comparison. have things changed much since you wrote these articles?

    I have been looking at alternatives from a Mac perspective integrating with iPhoto. Hope you don’t mind if I link to this blog when I do so. I like your advice on storing photos while traveling.

    Bush walker

  27. Chris says:

    I don’t think much has changed, but this post is quite old now and should probably be re-done! I still use Picasa for all my photo sharing needs (mostly for family and friends) and I like the way I can have private/hidden albums with special links to share with only certain people.

    As noted in a comment above however, if I take a great shot I want to share and be found by the wider community, I would probably put it on Flickr since it still reigns supreme in brand recognition for discovering photos.

  28. Pingback: How to Best Upload and Share Your Bushwalking and Hiking Photos | Bushwalking Skills

  29. Honestly I’m not agree with your comparison because you did it only basing by the fact that Free Picasa account is less limited than Free Flickr account.

    I bought a Flickr account and for me this is the best: you have geotagging, you can organizing photos in set, you can bookmarks preferred photos, you have many groups in which sharing your photos and receiving comments, you don’t have limits of storage/band and more and more.

    But sure, this is my opinion 🙂

  30. Pingback: A melhor cor para o conteúdo do site É Evergreen | Redes Sociais e Mensagens Instantâneas | Saber 2.0

  31. iansoliva says:

    hi Chris! Thanks for this. I was planning to migrate some of my photos from flickr to picasa & was about to ask you if there are size restrictions to the free picasa. Im using a pro flickr account so most of my photos are in original sizes. But then I read the comments & it seems that picasa can accept original sizes. Thanks anyway!

  32. Hey Chris,

    Just came across this comparison of yours between Flickr vs Instagram. Great article. I know it’s dated but I wanted to know if you’d like to feature it on getcomparisons.com? A project we’ve started to house all the best product comparisons on the web under one roof. You can back-link to this original article of course. Check it out, and if you’re interested, I will send you an invite.

    Cheers,
    Akshay Arabolu, Founder

  33. Hi,

    I had also been deciding on which service to go with for, for my WordPress blog. Had started with Picasa. Once I had worked out eventually how to add a slideshow into a wordpress.com blog! Then looked at Flickr, as other bicycle adventurists seemed to be focused that way. Perhaps also due to the community?

    I had exactly the same upload (original) on both, and Flickr is by far the better image quality. I also like the slideshow with Flickr (lightroom). Embedding slideshow on blog with Flickr is far easier, and does look pretty good too.

    $44 for two years is pretty good for what you get. So Flickr Pro it is then. Image quality was the deciding factor for me.

    Thank you for a great insight into the two services.

    Regards,

    Nigel

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