Migrating from flickr to picasaweb

by therider

In 2006 I migrated my pbase albums to flickr. Why? Because flickr was the coolest looking thing back then. Some of the things that made me do the painful manual switch:

– Photostream: a new concept unlike the rigid directory-like album structure in pbase.
– Square thumbnails and the ability to put same image into multiple sets without duplication.
– The community feel, groups, and explore galleries.

I have since accumulated more than 6000 photos in flickr and it is an irreplaceable memory lane for me.

Few weeks ago I started wondering about the future of flickr. After acquisition by yahoo in 2005, it has not added any significant feature besides collections (only one level deep hierarchy) and some other cosmetic changes. Given the abysmal track record of companies/products under yahoo, I figured it was time to really check out picasaweb, the other viable alternative I ignored for a long time.

In two days of fiddling with picasaweb, picasa desktop app, and photograbbr I think this is the way to go. This blog post also sold me to the idea. Here are my observations regarding the switch:

– If I let my pro flickr account lapse, I will still have the photos forever, only that the last 200 will be visible in photostream. Any link to photos from old blog posts will continue to work. I have not much to lose. Besides my 6000 photos are all web sized, taking under 2GB of space. In flickr I paid $25/yr for unlimited, but in picasaweb I will have to pay $5/yr for 20GB (1GB is free).

– I am not sure I like the photostream of flickr anymore. Sometimes I think twice before uploading less-than-best photos since friends will see the latest photos. At this point the rigid album feature makes more sense. I will miss having album-inside-album, but I can live with that, since tags can help.

– One big gripe with flickr is filename preservation. It would make the filename as default title, and I have to manually copy it to the description area if I have to change the title. Flickr gives each photo an unique id and there is no other place where the filename is preserved. With picasa this is no more a problem, the photos get uploaded in picasa with empty caption by default, and filename is untouched. For the migration part, PhotoGrabbr is an excellent app. It lets me download flickr photos with flickr filename, plus an xml document which has all the details about the photo including title and description, one of which has the original filename. The migration should be easy and fast.

– The other major pain-in-the-ass with flickr is its image organizer. I cringe everytime I have to use it.

– I really loved the way picasa works, especially the sync with picasaweb. Photo caption syncs both ways. Super easy to delete the online album and re-upload after major changes in the album. Once an album (basically a folder) is in sync with the online version, I can upload more by simple drag and drop to the album folder. So my workflow is like this: work in Lightroom, export processed photos from RAW to 900×600 jpg, and just drop them in a folder under picasa. The tags stay intact from the time I imported photos in LR. Sweet.

– The integration of picasaweb with G+ android app took me by surprise. Very fast browsing of my online photos over 3G. WIN.

I am kind of sad to no longer renew my flickr pro, but I am sure it would have been 10 times more awesome from its 2005 version had it not gone under Yahoo.

Update: here is my new picasaweb public gallery: https://picasaweb.google.com/107557198667490360767