Almost 2 years ago I shared a post in which I compared 500px, Flickr, Facebook and Google+ from photographers perspective mentioning their strengths and weaknesses. But 2 years in the Internet era is a long time and a lot of things can change during such period of time so today I would like to post refreshed version of this comparison – it’s time for another 500px vs Flickr vs Google+ vs Facebook battle.
It was once my absolute favorite with fantastic quality of uploaded images (compared to badly compressed images on Facebook they look gorgeous), very high quality of images in general and ability to get exposure even if you weren’t popular. After all those years it’s still one of my favorite websites – I share images there every few days or weeks.
The thing I really like about 500px is that they don’t sit on their laurels and always look for things to improve – over last 2 years UI has seen so many changes that it would be difficult to name all of them. Generally the user interface is clean and very modern but at the same time I feel that over the years it made the page rather slow.
One of the issues about 500px is that UI is inconsistent, e.g. when you open image to view it from Flow page (which basically shows activity from your friends) it opens on dark background without ability to comment or view photo’s score. But when you open the same image from Popular page it opens on light background and it gives you option to both comment and view rating of the image. Weird.
Another issue is that as 500px became popular a lot more people started to share their images there what also affected overall image quality – in a bad way. And if a particular photog has a lot of friends it might happen that his poorly executed image will reach 1st page of Popular (equivalent of Flickr’s Explore). However, the images on 500px are still one of the best you can find on the Internet in my opinion with many great individuals still using it.
Another problem is very little engagement. Most of the people don’t comment on your photos and when they do, a lot of them do that just to get your attention so you look at their images. To change that 500px introduced Groups feature – a place where users can discuss with each other about photography. But from what I saw they aren’t very popular. And I myself don’t use them at all.
- Fantastic and inspiring photos (especially on 1st page of Popular)
- Great quality of uploaded images (very little compression etc.)
- Very nice modern look & feel of the service
- Various incosistencies in the UI – e.g. it’s not possible to comment on photos from the Flow page but it is from Popular page
- UI can sometimes become very slow
- Very little engagement
Flickr was first photography oriented website where I started to share my work in 2010. I left it for 500px and even though I tried to return to it several times I always leave it again (sorry Flickr).
Over recent years Flickr made a lot of changes to gain some attention from photographers – it made its UI much more modern and I must say I quite like it (although I still prefer 500px one). However, with very little views I get there I don’t think it’s worth uploading my images there.
Compared to 500px average image quality is much lower on Flickr (with a lot of snapshots) because its users base is probably still much bigger than 500px’s and the service feels a bit more old school but there are some improvements being made in this field.
So while Flickr made some progress, for me it’s still behind 500px.
- Still one of the most popular web services for photographers
- Flickr is recently evolving and there is a great chance it will be great & cool once again
- Very nice UI
- Average image quality is lower than on 500px
- Quality of comments isn’t often very high – my advice – don’t use groups
Google+ isn’t a photography website in a sense Flickr or 500px are but it has some really cool features that photographers like. First of all image quality of uploaded photos is really good. What’s more it offers some basic photo adjustments (which I don’t use at all but some people might like them) and it also shows EXIF metadata what’s great for beginners to learn from pro photographers – provided they don’t remove EXIF of course 😉
But what’s most important for me is that it’s possible to get a lot of exposure there. And I mean a lot. All my photos there were viewed 1.5 billion times. Yes, that isn’t a mistake – 1.5 BILLION. It’s crazy, isn’t it? And in this regard Google+ is a clean winner.
The biggest gripe for me is that despite so many views, engagement I see there is very low – people rarely comment. But when they do, quality of comments is often very high – so it’s a great place to discuss photography related subjects if you have some friends there.
- Great image quality
- EXIF data
- It’s possible to get a lot of views on a single photo
- It’s very hard to get any attention from non-photographers as most of your non-photography friends probably still don’t have account on it
Just like Google+, Facebook isn’t a photography website but rather biggest and most popular social network. However, as all great photographers are there you should consider joining it too. And not only photographers are there what make it possible to reach very wide audiences (hint: possible clients 😉 ). And it is what happens.
But the greatest thing about Facebook is that activity on your photos is often much more personalized than anywhere else and it feels more like a regular talk or discussion. Mainly because many of your friends are there.
Facebook also changed over last 2 years but unlike 500px or Flickr – not very much. The changes are evolutionary – they mostly tweak and tune existing features, sometimes adding one or two new options. There might be quite big change soon with “Dislike” button being recently confirmed and quite frankly I’m not sure if it will be change for good.
Also my biggest original gripe – image quality – is still there. When you upload your photos there Facebook compresses them but it does it in such a way that some images might look really horrible: noise gets amplified, colour banding issues start to appear etc. In fact I would tell that out of 4 websites compared in this post Facebook offers worst image quality!
Unlike other websites mentioned in this comparison Facebook is also the only one that doesn’t show EXIF data on photos.
- Possibility to reach wide audience
- Great to build community
- A lot of engagement from users
- Very poor image quality of uploaded images (noise, banding…)
- No EXIF metadata
2 years ago I wasn’t able to really name a winner. This time the choice is easier for me and it’s Facebook. With much bigger engagement than anywhere else it had to win. Also it generates quite a lot of traffic to my blog which is another important thing for me. Of course it isn’t perfect and its biggest problem is very poor image quality so that’s why 500px comes second. It could win (and maybe will in 2 years from now) but it has to do something to encourage its users to engage more. Introduction of groups was a move in the right direction but for me it doesn’t work. 3rd place on podium goes to Google+ – although I like exposure I got there, I really dislike the fact that there is so little engagement. Flickr comes last this time for me – I don’t know why but despite all changes done to it over last few years I still cannot start to love it again. It just doesn’t work for me…
What about Instagram?
If you read carefully you probably noticed that one big player is missing from above comparison and it’s Instagram. I use it from time to time but really only occassionally and I think that it would be unfair to describe a website that I don’t know well and which I don’t really understand. If I get better understanding of it in the future, I’ll definitely include it in this comparison.