I had to put in my credit card to get a trial account. Not a problem for me, I’ll generally do this with reputable sites that have folks recommending them. So a few minutes later, I had a “standard” account set up.
The standard account is $29.95/yr, and lots of people will give you a link to get $5 off, so it’s basically $24.95/yr. Unlimited storage, and 4GB/mo of download capacity. Hmm…it’s hard to put that in perspective, but if I’m serving up more than 4GB/mo, hopefully I’m in a position to be happy about it and pay more. :-)
I like that I can organize photos into galleries, and surface those galleries very obviously on the front page. No problem telling people about it – “go to gregr.smugmug.com and check out my washington, dc pictures”. I can even control the ordering of galleries on the page, and also ordering of photos within the galleries. You can also group on the front page by category, and show galleries within their categories. All in all, quite a bit of flexibility.
Password-protection is available, and is very easy to use. I have one gallery on my site that’s password protected, and you just need the password to access it. It’s not exactly high-grade security, but I’m also not trying to protect blueprints of a bank vault. If something needs super-secure protection, I probably wouldn’t put it on a public site to begin with.
EXIF information is optionally exposed for every photo, and displays a popup. I’m not totally thrilled with the popup, but it works and I can live with it. For some reason, this site also shows shutter speeds in a very strange way – for this photo, shutter speed is displayed as “0.0062s (10/1600)”. Come on…couldn’t you just say 1/160, and save me having to figure it out myself? Zoto does the same thing, and I just don’t get it.
There are also some strange EXIF problems. This picture shows a shutter speed of 15.625 sec, which I can promise you is not accurate. I sent a note to their support alias to this effect…and WOW. Two separate folks wrote back to me within 10 minutes. This on a Sunday – very cool. It wasn’t perfect, though…Andy from Smugmug said the camera writes inconsistent info so they can’t fix it (doubtful, as Windows XP can display the correct info for this exact same file), and Ben said it looked strange and he’d pass it along to their developers. I chose to listen to Ben. :-) (one week later, haven’t heard anything, problem still appears).
Smugmug also supports tags (they call them keywords), and they’re pretty easy to manage. I couldn’t enter “night” as a keyword – it just wouldn’t show up. One more note to support, another response in about 5 minutes saying it was probably an erroneous entry on a blacklist, and he’d have someone take care of it. (one week later, problem is still there).
I like the overall look/feel. There are multiple styles you can use, and the site is easy to navigate for both the owner and visitors. The only nitpicky thing that comes to mind is the page numbers on the gallery pages – it’s a little hard to find, and watching over peoples’ shoulders, I notice that not everyone sees them, and they assume there’s only one page of photos. Small thing, but there is probably a way to make that stand out a bit more.
I like the geo-tagging capabilities (via Google Earth) – it’s fun to see my photos on a map. My only suggestion (sent to support guys) was to make it so I can tag multiple photos with one location all at once. So once I figure out the latitude/longitude of the Denver Zoo, let me tag all 20 pictures in a gallery with that data all at once. As it is, this process will take about 7 minutes to do 20 pics, and my mouse hand will be pretty sore by the end.
And a couple of things I haven’t experimented with too much yet. With upgraded accounts you can completely customize the site’s headers, footers, and styles – nice. You can also set your own pricing for people who order prints of your photos, and you keep most of the markup (not that I need that feature now, but I really like that it’s there).
All in all, I like Smugmug a lot, and I’ve decided to stay there for now.
[If you want to try it yourself, save yourself 20%, and save me 20% too :-), use this link.]