After processing the pictures from our Banff and Jasper trip, I feel it’s time to move my photo gallery to an online photo hosting service, because I think the current presentation of my gallery website is not up to my standard and the accessing speed is slow. Flickr and Picasa are more for casual hosting. I eventually end up deciding between SmugMug and Zenfolio.

SmugMug has much longer history than Zenfolio, but as a new comer, Zenfolio has certain advantages. I don’t want to make money from the pictures and I want to do minimum customization, so my evaluation is based on the features for standard/basic users. At this time, I slightly prefer Zenfolio for the following reasons,

  1. Gallery URL can be renamed to human-readable and google-friendly format
  2. Google Analytics integration
  3. Custom Domain and Home Page
  4. Better slideshow features and interfaces
  5. Less expensive

But, SmugMug also have some highlights that I cannot easily give up,

  1. Larger thumbnails in photo view page
  2. Larger user base and community
  3. Geotag and Google Map integration

I guess I am going to fully use the 14-day trial period. Here are my sites,

http://wavelet.zenfolio.com
http://wavelet.smugmug.com

Updates (2009/08/22): Today SmugMug released NiceNames, which allow users to edit the gallery name and also automatically changes the name of existing galleries. So, it matches the first Zenfolio’s functions in my list.

Updates (2009/09/13): I decided to sign up both SmugMug and Znefolio for the standard/basic user level. The hosting service is really not expensive, especially if you compare it with the cellphone service, which on average I make less than one call per day. Both services are great and I am sure you won’t regret picking either one of them.

At the basic user level, Zenfolio’s feature set is unbeatable. It supports basic download protection and Google Analytics integration; admin configuration can be naturally accessed at one place, while in SmugMug, sometimes I have to think which page I should go and click more buttons to get there; ‘dim the light’ and ‘slideshow’ features look very cool and are easy to use for viewers.

On the other hand, I always got more viewership of my SmugMug pages in spite of all the disadvantages. SmugMug still has stronger user base and more well-known brand name. The large thumbnail view looks nice at most screen resolutions.

Now I ponder on whether I should upgrade to advanced user level, so that I can replace the header and footer and add my watermark to the pictures. The medium user level would allows me to customize the page in certain ways, but both services require advanced level for watermarking.

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2 Responses to SmugMug vs. Zenfolio

  1. Andrew says:

    Hi,

    I’ve been waiting to see which you would choose. It’s a hard call, because they both look great and offer a few advantages over the other, I think. I really like your pics! I just wanted to give you a heads-up, though. If you do decide to go with Zenfolio, check this blog:

    http://www.opensourcephoto.net/forum/index.php?s=51587926abaaf186587d1515eb6a4be7&showtopic=53557&pid=517365&st=0&#entry517365

    I just found out about this a while ago myself. Apparently, there’s always a 20% discount if you use that code, but if you do it before the end of the clock strikes midnight tonight (Monday, 9/7/09), you can 40% off the Premium price! I’ve had a SmugMug membership for a year, and was thinking of renewing, but wanted to do a Zenfolio trial, too. That may have tipped the scales for me; it’s a great deal. Just wanted to pass it along because I liked your blog and images. 🙂

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for info. Too bad I’ve signed up with Zenfolio a week ago. The discount doesn’t apply to me. I probably will sign up to Smugmug as well. For basic level account, the rate is really not high.

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