October 25, 2008

Digital Photo Albums

Regular readers know that I put a premium on printing images, or at least sharing them. What good does it do to take a picture and then not show it to anyone?

Well it turns out there’s a reason people don’t share digital images. Better digital photo albums are required.

There’s no question that digital technology has revolutionized photography. The statistics speak for themselves: not only have the past several years seen a boom in digital camera sales, but online photo sharing and printing services are proliferating everywhere.

But researchers at ABI Research, Oyster Bay, N.Y., USA, say we’re looking at the new medium through an “old lens.” What did most amateur snapshooters do with their analog pictures? They mounted them in albums. Family and friends could hold albums in their laps and share the viewing experience. What must most digital snapshooters do? View their pictures on a computer; upload them to a website (more computing); e-mail them to each other (still more computing) — or have them printed for mounting in an old-fashioned album. While sharing via e-mail is a step in the right direction, printing them and putting them in old-fashioned albums is a step backwards.

We need something like the old photo album. A stand-alone tablet-sized device with a nice big, bright color screen that will display images the way the old family album did. You need to be able to pass it around the room (no wires) and Grandma needs to be able to instantly figure out how it works. We do have digital photo frames, but they’re too bulky and challenging to operate for tech-newbies.

I’m thinking we need something like the Kindle for photography. It needs to be wirelessly updated, small, portable, easy-to-use, and with a good color screen that looks good under normal household lighting.

If digital camera manufacturers want to sell even more cameras, they need to figure out what Apple figured out years ago. Software sells hardware. (iTunes is the reason that so many iPods get sold.) Digital camera makers should make digital photo albums their number one priority!

Join the conversation! 47 Comments

  1. I use my iPod Touch for this. Not quite big enough for what you’re thinking though.

  2. I use my iPod Touch for this. Not quite big enough for what you’re thinking though.

  3. Scott,

    the photo …. how did you get it as it is …. did you bracket?

    I really enjoy seeing your photo’s they are magnificent… (the non wildlife ones, for I’m not into wildlife at all)

  4. I’d settle for finding a good looking digital frame that updates via wi-fi for a reasonable price (sub $300). You’d think that television manufacturers would start building in at least an SD and CF reader with something to display the graphics. The video game systems seem to have embraced some of this functionality, but I’d guess most grandmas don’t have an xbox 360. We’ll get there but it seems like we could have been there and back by now.

  5. I’d settle for finding a good looking digital frame that updates via wi-fi for a reasonable price (sub $300). You’d think that television manufacturers would start building in at least an SD and CF reader with something to display the graphics. The video game systems seem to have embraced some of this functionality, but I’d guess most grandmas don’t have an xbox 360. We’ll get there but it seems like we could have been there and back by now.

  6. i prefer to keep my photos in a digital format, as metadata stays with the image, and outputting to hard copy just seems like process of removing the image from a well organised database and system. im not talking about fine art prints, or images that were ‘meant to be printed’, but as mentioned above – more general shots, that would have made it into an album before the digital era took over.

    great post scott, this is something most of my family would appreciate, as the whole concept of online sharing just hasnt been passed up the line. my mum still asks me to get photos ‘developed’ for her, so for me to be able to wirelessly transfer images (kind of like the wifi photo frame) to a portable digital viewer as i process them (automatically via tagging and smart albums), sharing would be effortless and rewarding.

    another few points to make:
    • this could also include the ability to add a comment in a metadata field, and have a two way interaction with the sender.
    • apple could really do something like this, which would push aperture, osx, and mobileme dollars.
    • utilise online services such as flickr, which would enable a subscription to be pushed to the device for the non-‘online’ members of the family to still be connected.

    cant wait!

  7. i prefer to keep my photos in a digital format, as metadata stays with the image, and outputting to hard copy just seems like process of removing the image from a well organised database and system. im not talking about fine art prints, or images that were ‘meant to be printed’, but as mentioned above – more general shots, that would have made it into an album before the digital era took over.

    great post scott, this is something most of my family would appreciate, as the whole concept of online sharing just hasnt been passed up the line. my mum still asks me to get photos ‘developed’ for her, so for me to be able to wirelessly transfer images (kind of like the wifi photo frame) to a portable digital viewer as i process them (automatically via tagging and smart albums), sharing would be effortless and rewarding.

    another few points to make:
    • this could also include the ability to add a comment in a metadata field, and have a two way interaction with the sender.
    • apple could really do something like this, which would push aperture, osx, and mobileme dollars.
    • utilise online services such as flickr, which would enable a subscription to be pushed to the device for the non-‘online’ members of the family to still be connected.

    cant wait!

  8. I think the iPod Touch is perfect except it cannot send to a printer and it is a little small. A photographer friend of mine has no music only photos on his touch!

  9. I think the iPod Touch is perfect except it cannot send to a printer and it is a little small. A photographer friend of mine has no music only photos on his touch!

  10. @Cameron. I was gonna say the same thing. An, iPod is a great substitute for wallets these days. Also, if your cellphone has a reasonable display, Flickr has a mobile site. It’s probably not great for presenting a professional portfolio. But, when people ask about my children, the cellphone comes right out.

  11. @Cameron. I was gonna say the same thing. An, iPod is a great substitute for wallets these days. Also, if your cellphone has a reasonable display, Flickr has a mobile site. It’s probably not great for presenting a professional portfolio. But, when people ask about my children, the cellphone comes right out.

  12. I couldn’t agree more Scott. Until good, well sized and decently priced digital albums/pictures become available a huge potential market will be left sadly neglected.

  13. I would love something the size of a laptop screen with the ipod touch software to flick through the pictures. Unfortunately I don’t think I could pay for something like that.

  14. I would love something the size of a laptop screen with the ipod touch software to flick through the pictures. Unfortunately I don’t think I could pay for something like that.

  15. @Magnus Pymm the image was created using HDR/ToneMapping techniques at the Mormon Row Barns near Grand Teton National Park.

  16. @Magnus Pymm the image was created using HDR/ToneMapping techniques at the Mormon Row Barns near Grand Teton National Park.

  17. That is the main reason that I have a Sony PSP. Load pictures on to it start it up and hand it to who evey wants to see them. When at home I have them on my Apple TV and go from there.

  18. That is the main reason that I have a Sony PSP. Load pictures on to it start it up and hand it to who evey wants to see them. When at home I have them on my Apple TV and go from there.

  19. I’m pretty sure there is a book sized, intuitive tablet computer thing in the works at Apple. This might be the E-Books 2nd chance. I’d get one of those immediately, mainly because it’d allow me to read my RSS Feeds of the day on the train when i’m on my way to work.

  20. I’m pretty sure there is a book sized, intuitive tablet computer thing in the works at Apple. This might be the E-Books 2nd chance. I’d get one of those immediately, mainly because it’d allow me to read my RSS Feeds of the day on the train when i’m on my way to work.

  21. What a great device that would be. I can imagine such a device a few years down the road that would use solid state memory to hold the photos, be very rugged, and be very easy to use.

    I have never felt the need to share my photographs. In fact, I don’t have a lot of people to share them with anyway. This school year I have a Smartboard in my chemistry classroom. A giant touch screen computer monitor, is what it is. It runs from a data projector mounted on the ceiling. Anyway, I routinely change the desktop picture every day or so, using my own photographs, on the computer on my desk and have been doing that for many years. This year, my students can see the photos on the Smartboard. They actually look forward to seeing what photo will be there when they come to class. It’s fun to share photos!

    Here’s hoping your suggested device gets built sooner than later.

  22. What a great device that would be. I can imagine such a device a few years down the road that would use solid state memory to hold the photos, be very rugged, and be very easy to use.

    I have never felt the need to share my photographs. In fact, I don’t have a lot of people to share them with anyway. This school year I have a Smartboard in my chemistry classroom. A giant touch screen computer monitor, is what it is. It runs from a data projector mounted on the ceiling. Anyway, I routinely change the desktop picture every day or so, using my own photographs, on the computer on my desk and have been doing that for many years. This year, my students can see the photos on the Smartboard. They actually look forward to seeing what photo will be there when they come to class. It’s fun to share photos!

    Here’s hoping your suggested device gets built sooner than later.

  23. Something like the kindle for photos are the right idea. It needs to be something that doesn’t draw a lot of power. If you take a laptop screen and put the iphone like software on it how many times are you going to want to show it to someone and have no power in the batteries. Even though I don’t do it enough I still think printing pictures is the way to go. Sometimes the low tech way is the best.

  24. Something like the kindle for photos are the right idea. It needs to be something that doesn’t draw a lot of power. If you take a laptop screen and put the iphone like software on it how many times are you going to want to show it to someone and have no power in the batteries. Even though I don’t do it enough I still think printing pictures is the way to go. Sometimes the low tech way is the best.

  25. iPhone is my current best method for carrying photos. I might copy my Aperture library onto my notebook computer for the family holiday get-togethers. I think there was a recent thread about using portable 4×6 photo printers for on-the-spot printing.

    It would be nice if there were 17″ WUXGA digital picture frames. The frames I’ve seen so far are 100ppi and that’s on the grainy side.

  26. iPhone is my current best method for carrying photos. I might copy my Aperture library onto my notebook computer for the family holiday get-togethers. I think there was a recent thread about using portable 4×6 photo printers for on-the-spot printing.

    It would be nice if there were 17″ WUXGA digital picture frames. The frames I’ve seen so far are 100ppi and that’s on the grainy side.

  27. this might be laughed at but i find facebook a remarkable app for the sharing of photos. I get to see some of my mates photos on the other side of the world in relative real time, i can than post a comment or ask a question while the background on that photo is still fresh

  28. this might be laughed at but i find facebook a remarkable app for the sharing of photos. I get to see some of my mates photos on the other side of the world in relative real time, i can than post a comment or ask a question while the background on that photo is still fresh

  29. I would tend to say that iPod is the reason iTunes is so popular. Sure, iTunes is cool, but I don’t think I would buy any music on iTunes if I didn’t have an iPod.

    I also don’t see why a printed photograph in an album is a bad thing. Maybe one day prints will be obsolete, but I don’t think that time is anytime soon. Sure the Kindle is cool, but a paperback book costs so much less and for me is much more enjoyable than reading on a screen.

    But then again, I’m one of those “hipsters” that use B&W film and develop and print my own work.

  30. I would agree with Tyler that the iPod is really the reason that iTunes is so popular. I love my iPod in spite of iTunes, not because of it….

  31. I would agree with Tyler that the iPod is really the reason that iTunes is so popular. I love my iPod in spite of iTunes, not because of it….

  32. I do not entirely agree. While there is definitely a market for an electronic album, personally I enjoy flipping through the old photo album. Perhaps I’m old fashioned.

    Recently, I had a couple of albums made from photos that I took in Europe during two weeks of a family reunion. The albums contain cherished memories that I can touch and keep near me on my bookshelf. Plugging the compact flash card into a device and viewing photos on a cold screen doesn’t hold the same OMF! JMO

  33. I do not entirely agree. While there is definitely a market for an electronic album, personally I enjoy flipping through the old photo album. Perhaps I’m old fashioned.

    Recently, I had a couple of albums made from photos that I took in Europe during two weeks of a family reunion. The albums contain cherished memories that I can touch and keep near me on my bookshelf. Plugging the compact flash card into a device and viewing photos on a cold screen doesn’t hold the same OMF! JMO

  34. @Phil @Jeff @Tyler – http://www.amazon.com/Macintosh-Way-Guy-Kawasaki/dp/0673461750

    Read that book and then get back to me. Do you really mean to tell me that you think the camera makers would sell MORE cameras if people share LESS photos??? Because if you’re comments are on topic and not just argumentative, that would be the point you’re making.

  35. @Phil @Jeff @Tyler – http://www.amazon.com/Macintosh-Way-Guy-Kawasaki/dp/0673461750

    Read that book and then get back to me. Do you really mean to tell me that you think the camera makers would sell MORE cameras if people share LESS photos??? Because if you’re comments are on topic and not just argumentative, that would be the point you’re making.

  36. Convergence is the name of the game. How many of you have an apple tv or xbox360? With these devices you can look at your photos on the big beautiful HDTV’s screen. Snapshoots are ok on cell phones or ipods/zunes.

    Who thought that you would be running a wireless computer network in your home?

    An inexpensive Photo album would be nice (Digital Photo Frame with controls), but with the devices availble are they necessary?

    Oh and Mr Lilly you can pick up a Windows Tablet PC quite reasonabley. The IPOD touch inteface was a rip off of mouse gestures, and yes mouse gestures work on tablet PCs. I have been using my Fujitsu Lifebook P 1510D for years, I just wish the batteries lasted a little bit longer.

  37. Convergence is the name of the game. How many of you have an apple tv or xbox360? With these devices you can look at your photos on the big beautiful HDTV’s screen. Snapshoots are ok on cell phones or ipods/zunes.

    Who thought that you would be running a wireless computer network in your home?

    An inexpensive Photo album would be nice (Digital Photo Frame with controls), but with the devices availble are they necessary?

    Oh and Mr Lilly you can pick up a Windows Tablet PC quite reasonabley. The IPOD touch inteface was a rip off of mouse gestures, and yes mouse gestures work on tablet PCs. I have been using my Fujitsu Lifebook P 1510D for years, I just wish the batteries lasted a little bit longer.

  38. Scott

    Haven’t HP and Kodak already tried their hands at “Portable Media Players/Flash Memory Backup Devices”? You know the clunky devices which were sold as backup storage with the abaility to review photos, on a small screen? I think Canon had one out for a while too.

  39. Scott

    Haven’t HP and Kodak already tried their hands at “Portable Media Players/Flash Memory Backup Devices”? You know the clunky devices which were sold as backup storage with the abaility to review photos, on a small screen? I think Canon had one out for a while too.

  40. YES, YES, YES – Scott you are so right about this.

    Although there are devices (eg. ipod touch) that approach serving this need they are not good enough – ie. not dedicated, simple to use, and large enough.

    A slim, networkable digital photo frame running on batteries would be the way to go

  41. Scott,
    this might not have the highest resolution but it has some of the other features you were looking for. And they have various models and price points that will fit most everyone’s budget.

    http://www.estarling.com/

  42. Scott,
    this might not have the highest resolution but it has some of the other features you were looking for. And they have various models and price points that will fit most everyone’s budget.

    http://www.estarling.com/

  43. I have had a digital frame since I got my Nikon D200 some 2 years ago. Doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and that’s ok if you’re not too lazy to plug it by USB to the PC! :)
    Problems… the battery life is nowhere near what it should be and people will not stand in front of it to see 50 to 100 photos!

    So, in order to share my photography with my friends and family I actually setup presentations on the 37″ flat-screen TV, with some sort of background music, when they come over for dinner and/or drinks.

    But if someone really likes one of them (really really likes it) I actually prefer to get a high quality print framed and make it a gift on their next birthday! (not necessarily a large print – it depends on where they would like to put it)

    It sure would be nice to have an interactive display, photo-album sized, but I guess I would still go with the TV option.
    In fact, for me, perfect would be a portable device like the iPhone, but with some way of linking to a TV for high-definition photo presentations (with sound).
    And if you have an option to use a remote to flick through the images even better… if it’s only grandma that wants to look at the album, all she needs to do is sit in front of the TV and click a button. :)

  44. I have had a digital frame since I got my Nikon D200 some 2 years ago. Doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and that’s ok if you’re not too lazy to plug it by USB to the PC! :)
    Problems… the battery life is nowhere near what it should be and people will not stand in front of it to see 50 to 100 photos!

    So, in order to share my photography with my friends and family I actually setup presentations on the 37″ flat-screen TV, with some sort of background music, when they come over for dinner and/or drinks.

    But if someone really likes one of them (really really likes it) I actually prefer to get a high quality print framed and make it a gift on their next birthday! (not necessarily a large print – it depends on where they would like to put it)

    It sure would be nice to have an interactive display, photo-album sized, but I guess I would still go with the TV option.
    In fact, for me, perfect would be a portable device like the iPhone, but with some way of linking to a TV for high-definition photo presentations (with sound).
    And if you have an option to use a remote to flick through the images even better… if it’s only grandma that wants to look at the album, all she needs to do is sit in front of the TV and click a button. :)

  45. I have been holding out for a photo frame like what’s described in this post. Something light, mobile (to fit in a camera bag) with 10-13″ viewing area, low power consumption, high resolution, bright screen and easy to use. WiFi isn’t that important to me but would be a nice touch! The sooner something like this comes to market the better. I looked into getting the eStarling photo frame for my parents, so I could just email pictures to it and hey-presto they show up on the frame without them having to do anything, but a lot of the reviews I read have discouraged me.

    For now I have been creating photo books using both Apple and Blurb (depending on the size required). I love the amount of customisation available to the creator and the simplicity of the ordering process – just create the book and click ‘buy’, no painstaking printing and physically placing in an album.

  46. I have been holding out for a photo frame like what’s described in this post. Something light, mobile (to fit in a camera bag) with 10-13″ viewing area, low power consumption, high resolution, bright screen and easy to use. WiFi isn’t that important to me but would be a nice touch! The sooner something like this comes to market the better. I looked into getting the eStarling photo frame for my parents, so I could just email pictures to it and hey-presto they show up on the frame without them having to do anything, but a lot of the reviews I read have discouraged me.

    For now I have been creating photo books using both Apple and Blurb (depending on the size required). I love the amount of customisation available to the creator and the simplicity of the ordering process – just create the book and click ‘buy’, no painstaking printing and physically placing in an album.

  47. I have a pc connected to my 55″ hd tv and just show pictures with any slide show program, usually picassa. I really like Cool Iris for viewing pics on flickr, it looks neat on a large screen.

    For sharing pics on the go, i have a 13″ tablet that works pretty good for now. It is my pc that i carry with me all the time anyways and folds up for easy photo viewing. Plus the touch screen makes it easy to flip through photos, not quite like the ipod touch but good enough.

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