500px: A Worthy Flickr Alternative

Over the past several years, there was an avalanche of photo sharing and showcasing web apps. Interestingly, though, most of these have been aimed at letting you quickly share simple pictures, rather than being designed around professional photography like Flickr. Facebook usage exploded and it turned into the World’s largest photo sharing site, while services like Instagram and Twitpic picked up where Twitter dropped the ball on photo sharing. Flickr and Photobucket stayed around, but there’s been much less innovation on professional photo sharing.

500px is a great photo community with a rating system, editorial selections, and professional portfolios. With a great selection of beautiful photographs, and the tools to make your work shine, it seems much more like a Flickr competitor than many of the newer sites aimed at quickly sharing photos. But is it awesome enough to take on established players, each with their own breed of loyal followers? Let us go find out.

Overview

Overview

Overview

500px is a photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs. Signing up for the web app is simple and it even offers logging in with your existing Facebook account (integration happens via OAuth). The app employs a very straight forward Facebook integration which is indeed complete with a single click. Kudos!

User Interface

Dashboard

Dashboard

After activating the account, I was a bit surprised to see a rather dull looking dashboard. When compared to the homepage and other associated page designs to show case the service, the dashboard lacks a punch. It definitely isn’t ugly, but could have been a bit more snazzy. As is, the app places a lot of emphasis on discovering photos and following photographers.

Ease of Use

The minute you land on 500px, you will instantly notice how easy it is find awesome images. So I will just run through how easy it actually is to upload images, create and maintain albums and portfolio. The app allows you to upload a maximum of 20 images a week. Each image should not exceed 30 MB in size and you can upload as many as 10 images in one go. To upload more images, you will have to upgrade to the premium account that costs $50 per year.

Image Upload

Image Upload

Uploading process is simple and is blazing fast. As soon as you have added all your images hit upload and they will be shown on the right side of the uploads page for you to add description, tags, category etc. All other metadata is captured automatically by the app. While you can create custom tags on your own, you will have to choose from the list of categories displayed. By the way, why isn’t there a category listing for Technology?

Creating a Collection

A Collection

A Collection

Creating a collection or a portfolio begins with a very predictable step – naming it! After naming it, add images that should appear in the collection either by directly uploading images or by choosing the ones you have uploaded earlier. It’s fun to arrange images using drag and drop.

Themes

Themes

Themes are a nice addition to elegantly showcase your collections. 500px come with a bunch of cool free themes and if you want more style, upgrade to unlock a few more premium themes.

A Collection on Display

A Collection on Display

To view how awesome your collection is, head over to the URL you have created earlier. It’s just brilliant. In just a few clicks, you now have a professional looking portfolio website! Make sure that you fill all your professional information in the Profile page. That way, your Biography page will be more complete.

Discovery

Since the web app promotes itself as a photographic community, finding cool photos and the people who actually shot them is a key in building a healthy ecosystem. And to the delight of photo enthusiasts, 500px has nailed the discovery part of the app.

Discovery

Discovery

From the Popular, Editor’s Choice and Upcoming sections, you can find an eyeful of gorgeous photographs. Found a photo that inspires and kindles your creative talent? Hit up the photographer name on the top right corner to go to his/her profile page.

Photographer Page

Photographer Page

From the profile page of the creative, you can get know all about him and his work. To stay on top of his new work, use the Twitter like follow feature and then you can monitor the updates from your Settings page.

Final Thoughts

In just a few seconds, I found a lot of stunning images that were shot by professionals. However, you will need a whole lot of bandwidth to just browse or take a tour of the site. The images displayed in each page are of high resolution and there are often many in a single page!

It would be great if the developers mention clearly even before signing up if there is a free account (or a trial period) and what the quota is. Only by searching through the Settings page that I found that the account I created was indeed free. However, even here I didn’t find any information about the maximum storage or bandwidth limit. Only when I ventured to upload an image did I find the limitations of the free account.

If you assess closely, right from the start, 500px promotes itself as a professional photographic community and it actually is. Unlike Flickr, where common people who click and share images they took with their smartphones and trendy point and click cameras, 500px is solidly a place where every photo looks like it has been taken with a camera that costs at least a few thousand bucks. The web app is nominally priced, and if you are someone looking for hosting your professional portfolio, you should definitely give 500px a try.

Share Your Thoughts!

Where do you have your professional portfolio hosted online? Is 500px stunning enough to get you to move your entire collection overnight or immediately after your current subscription at Flickr expires?


Summary

500px is a photographic community powered by creative people from all over the world that lets you share and discover inspiring photographs.

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