Digital cameras: Online publishing

One of the advantages of digital photography is the chance to view your photos online
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The Independent Online

You've taken the photo, transferred it to your computer - now what? The obvious answer is to get it online, so that your family and friends can see it without the need to get a print, and perhaps so that people you've never met will get an idea of what you're like and even be able to find connections with your pictures.

The simplest form of online publishing is to have your own website; most internet service providers (ISPs) offer some sort of free web space, typically 20 megabytes, where you can put your own compositions.

But many people prefer ready-made offerings, which are plentiful. It's always best to read the terms of any site very carefully, and ask yourself "What does that mean if..." before you entrust your property to them. For instance, how often do you have to use the site to retain a free account? Do you have to pay to keep them there? Is there a limit on how large or how many photos there can be, and will you be able to stay inside it? Is there a limit on how many times your photos can be viewed, and is it reasonable? Can you easily restrict who views your photos? Can you publicise your photos easily? Can you display them on other websites by simple links? And what's the internet buzz about the site? (For a quick answer you can try Google's blog search facility at http://blogsearch.google.com/).

Which site - personal or commercial - will suit you will depend on how many photos you have and how much you're prepared to pay to keep them in cyberspace. Only you will know that, so it's best to make a note of those before you start looking.

Most sites will then have a straightforward upload system, usually involving a web browser such as Internet Explorer. A broadband connection is generally a good idea, because uploading photos larger than 100 kilobytes on a dial-up connection quickly ties up your phone line - it would be quicker (and almost cheaper) to print them out and send them to your friends.

PHOTO-HOSTING WEBSITES

* Flickr ( www.flickr.com)
Darling of the leading-edge users. Free and paid-for versions. You can also include your own (or others') Flickr pictures on your own website. Browser or mobile phone upload. No prints as yet.

* Photobox ( www.photobox.co.uk)
The market leader in the UK. Photo sharing is just the start; then there are prints at prices starting from 6p, but also a wide range of gifts such as calendars, bags, T-shirts, mugs, canvas and even cushions. Also has professional galleries from which you can buy prints. Browser and mobile phone upload.

* Photosite ( www.photosite.com)
Online sharing and printing; free accounts can have up to 150 photos. Browser and mobile phone upload. "Plus" and "Deluxe" versions available, for £22 and £40 annually. Windows required (no Macs).

* Snapfish ( www.snapfish.co.uk)
An offshoot of computer company HP. Ten free prints on joining; 10p per print, and free and unlimited storage - though you must use the service at least once every 365 days or the photos may be deleted. Besides prints, you can get (or send) mugs, jigsaw puzzles, mousemats and calendars. Browser and mobile phone upload.

* Kodak Easyshare ( www.ofoto.co.uk)
Formerly called Ofoto - hence the address. Lets you buy prints and books of uploaded photos, or create online album. Browser and mobile phone upload.

* Photodeal ( www.photodeal.co.uk)
Although you can create shared albums, mostly focuses on producing prints, posters and even calendars. Prices aren't cheap (from 18p per print) but it is straightforward, allowing uploads from a PC, and some editing (rotating, contrast and brightness).

* Fotki ( www.fotki.com)
Photo sharing but with two twists. With a (£30) premium account, you can sell your photos at prices you decide; and you can create a photo-sharing system directly from your PC - no need to upload to the site.

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