A new player is making its entrance on the online portfolio stage: Albumino.
Created by UX designer Tomáš Hellebrand and programmer Marian Schubert, the site is aiming to provide a simpler, slicker and prettier alternative to the likes of Smugmug & co. Both are photographers and it certainly shows.
I recently received a very gracious invitation to try out the Pro level account from Hellebrand himself and have been playing around with it. Not surprisingly, they’ve done some very nice work in the UI department, especially with the photo upload and album management areas. The site does however make use of Flash for the actual file uploads — something seen in pretty much all similar sites as well. I have to wonder if it’s a limitation in HTML 5 or just an easier way to implement bulk uploads. The newest (3.3) version of Wordpress finally gets rid of Flash altogether, including in the uploader, so perhaps this will change elsewhere as well. Here’s hoping.
Everything else however is HTML driven.
Albumino’s nicest and most impressive feature is its slideshows: they’re big, they’re clean and they’re quite nice. And they’re big. Did I mention B-I-G? As a photographer who does quite a bit of printing I’m just a sucker for large images. As much as I love the 500px portfolios, they do tend to feel smallish on a 27in iMac. These however look stellar. More on 500px later…
A full screen button hides the UI chrome and the slideshow can be driven from the keyboard arrow keys — a nice touch. My only gripe is the site logo at upper-left which links back to the Albumino homepage instead of the photographer album page. This is especially jarring since the similarly placed logo on the album page links to… the album page. I feel this should be consistent.
THE LESS HIGHLIGHTABLE
Speaking of the album page: I’m not super crazy about the layout to be honest. It’s very bare bones - which is fine - but also a little too utilitarian looking for my taste. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of text links and I like big image headers. Yes, if you must know, I’m currently receiving treatment for this condition. But there you go.
The one feature I do like is what they call the teaser: instead of choosing a single image as an album preview, you get a choice of several mosaic layouts that can be customized through the album editing interface. This is an idea I feel they should expand upon, perhaps by basing more of the page’s design around it.
As it stands, I find the overall look of the album page to be a letdown from those gorgeous slideshows.
Like so many other new offerings Albumino is tagged as beta. So don’t try using it to find an abortion clinic in NYC… Kidding. Settle down. Too easy.
Still, there are some bugs here and there but the developers seem intent on actually using the feedback they receive. Always a good thing. For instance I couldn’t get my manual album order to stick. I also had images suddenly appear as question marks - after being initially visible - only to reappear later on. So there’s obviously still work to be done. As in beta… check.
As it stands, I’m not sure what to think about Albumino. It certainly has potential and is obviously being developed by two guys who are passion-driven. I’m just wondering about the competition which, in my mind, is the new juggernaut 500px. The list of features for both sites is very, very similar with one huge difference: 500px offers a free option. Albumino doesn’t.
This wouldn’t be a problem if 500px wasn’t so damn slick and pretty. It is though. Add the stellar community to the mix and the road ahead for Albumino becomes less than clear.
Albumino offers three pricing plans: - Standard €19.99/year for 20.000 photos (€9.99 special beta price) - Advanced €39.99/year for 60.000 photos (€19.99 special beta price) - Pro €79.99/year unlimited photos (€39.99 special beta price)
For the sake of comparison 500px has a single paid plan at $50/year unlimited which also includes white label and branding options. Albumino on the other hand offers the ability to download a backup of your photos which, combined with unlimited photo file size, could make it a useful backup tool - but only for the Advanced and Pro plans.
My feeling is that Albumino will need to add 500px features to the Pro accounts if they intend to actually target a “pro” audience. With a lot more customization options and social integration tools it could certainly give Photoshelter a run for its money, undercutting their price by quite a bit for those who don’t need its selling/quoting abilities.
As a verdict, right now I have to stick with promising. But I’ll be watching this one develop with great interest.
Btw: my Albumino page is here.