Jul 05 2007

5 online slideshow tools reviewed

Published by at 3:15 pm under cool & useful,DIY,Photo Review,photography,Reviews

Summary: The most difficult to use slideshow is slideroll but it was also the best in my view because it gives you the most control over the final results. For ease of use and good transition behaviour, the offering from Slidez.com is best. For ease of use for posting to social networking sites, I’m giving the nod to Photobucket.

Slidez.com



I created this slideshow with an online application called Slidez [LINK TO SLIDEZ] and then embedded the code in this post. Because it needs to fit this layout, you can’t see the images at full screen size. To do that, you need to CLICK HERE to visit this gallery on the slidez site.

Slidez has a very web 2.0 interface, ie clean and quite straightforward to use. The site was in public beta when I tried it out, so things may have changed when you check it. Registration is free and you aren’t charged to keep your slideshows on the site. I also liked that it created a unique sub-domain for me (mine is realsurf.slidez.net) and that it offered a number of editable display options. You can re-arrange the order of image, add labels and captions and email friends about your latest show, or embed it the way I have in this post.

All pictures were taken with my Nokia N95.

Slide.com

I’ve had a bit of a play with it, but cannot see how to embed a slideshow in this post. Instead, I can only link to one here

Here are some thoughts on the slide.com experience…

Slide has one of those slightly frenetic looking homepages that could be described loosely as adhering to the conventions of social networking sites in both appearance and functionality. It is quite easy to select and organise a slideshow, which is as it should be. There are any number of slideshow modes to choose from and you have a variety of customisation options. There is a limited music library from which you can choose a suitable soundtrack for your images. The biggest plus is that slide makes it very easy to add your slideshow to the most popular social networking sites (eg Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc). However, it does not appear to provide code for embedding in sites other than those listed. Instead, you are left with the less than satisfactory option of linking to your slideshow. What’s more, it would seem that the site aggressively compresses uploaded images (there is no way to control how the images are processed after uploading). The shots in the example show a fair amount of degradation from the originals.Click here to see how it works.

Photobucket.com

The most popular photosharing and hosting site of all. Very good user interface. Clean, easy to follow and quite versatile. In addition to uploading images from their own computer, users can also upload from mobile phones and web addresses (for instance you might have a picture in another location like a blog that you’d like to add to a slide show). Once images are uploadedl they are displayed album style with direct links helpfully shown below each picture (to make it easy to add them to an email, a post in a forum or a personal blog). Edting your slideshow is straightforward and there are a range of display options to choose from. One may link to a completed slideshow or grab the necessary code to include a show in a blog, forum post or ordinary web page. A remix mode alllows you to create slideshows from stills images and short video sequences. Easy to see why this is so popular. Images did not show compression artefacts. Easy to see why this is so popular. About the only niggle was not being able to pause a show or control how long images displayed. However, if you use the remix facility, it’s possible to set the ‘dwell’ time of an image from 1-10 seconds. Interesting note too, the remix part of the site is powered by Adobe’s Premiere Express. Professional users may want to spend USD25 a year to get 50 image slideshows instead of the lower resolution, 10 image limit that applies to free users.

Imageshack.us

Imageshack slideshow created on their site:
ImageShack has become extremely popular with the social networking crowd in large part because it makes posting your images to your social networking accounts comparatively easy. This is really more of a general purpose online photo storage site than a specialist slideshow builder. The slideshow tool [click here to see a screen dump] is a pretty basic affair. You can only upload one image at a time, you only have three size choices, and more importantly there do not appear to be any controls over the timeline or the Ken Burns panning-zooming effects. You can choose from a short list of transition effects. Uploads seemed to be pretty slow as well, but there were no compression artefacts visible in the slideshow. Free users have a maximum file size of 1.5MB.

What seems to be a much better idea is to go into the tools menu on the site and to download and install their image toolbar for IE or Firefox. This has a better interface for assembling slideshows in my view, and there is nothing to stop you editing your slideshow later once the images have been uploaded to ImageShack

A tip: they apply a bit of compression to your images, so you can overcome this by setting the slideshow to 640×480 (their largest setting) and then when you get the code for pasting into your blog, dig into it and change the height and width settings to something smaller – presto smaller, but better res. If you just choose the smaller options, it seems the compression is still visible (see below)

ImageShack slideshow created using their toolbar for Firefox

Go to ImageShack® to Create your own Slideshow

Slideroll.com

Slideroll is the least user-friendly of the slideshow creating sites I’ve looked at – however, it also offers users the greatest versatility. The slideshow workspace [CLICK HERE to see what it looks like] is somewhat complicated and a bit idiosyncratic, but once you’ve pushed the learning curve (tip: save after every step), you find you have considerably more control over the display options. For instance, Slideroll allows you to set the amount of time each shot is shown, and to control those zooming-panning effects much beloved by online slideshow makers. Once I got to grips with the control options, I found it quite amusing to play with. There are tools to help you post your slideshows to various of the social networking sites, or to blogs such as this one.

For another round-up of interesting online photo editors, check this on mashup

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