Zenfolio vs. SmugMug: Part 3 – Overall Thoughts

Update: My 11 Month Follow-Up Posted!

While I would have loved to spend much more time evaluating both of these photo hosting services, my two-week evaluation period for SmugMug is up. Therefore, I’m going to give an overall impression of both services and give my final choice for my needs.

I must say — both services offer great features and are superb options.  In the end, my choice came down to my specific needs as both an aspiring amateur photographer who wanted to be able to easily distrubute photos to friends and family and as a stock photographer.  As always, an evaluation of both services for your particular needs would be prudent.

Zenfolio offers a great interface for the end user.  It’s intuitive, easy to use and looks great.  There are many options for the look and feel of the site and everything is smooth and refined.  However, at current it’s not possible to fully integrate the site into your own theme or your own site.  As far as printing goes, Zenfolio uses Mpix which is touted as one of the premier print shops for online printing.

SmugMug allows for complete customization of your site.  This is a huge plus.  They also allow for the sale of digital files.  Also, the interface for the photographer isn’t quite as refined.  There are a few things which really bother me.  However, SmugMug has really grown on me as far as their capabilities and customization.  I’ve found it’s very easy to setup unlisted galleries and password protected galleries as well as custom pricing.  It’s not a perfect interface, but very very well done.


And now, for my recommendations and my personal choice.  For an amature photographer who wants secure, unlimited hosting of their photos and the ability to allow users to print what they want, Zenfolio is easy to use and you can have a great looking site in no time.  Uploading out of Lightroom 2 is fantastic thanks to Jeffrey Friedl’s export plugin and overall, it’s very simple and functional.  This all comes at a very attractive price.

For a full time photographer or stock shooter, I would have to recommend SmugMug.  Digital photo sales are perfect for stock photo sales.  The uploading is just as easy thanks again to Jeffrey Friedl’s Lightroom 2 plugin and the customization can make your site look fully integrated or, if you choose, you can use the SmugMug page as your official homepage. All of these features come at a cost though and you’ll be paying a $50 premium.  Still not much for a business website however.

For my uses, I would have to say that SmugMug is worth the extra cost.  With minimal effort, I was able to use my WordPress style sheet from this blog on my SmugMug site and it looks almost the same as this site.  Nothing’s perfect, and I would like to spend some more time overcoming a few shortcomings but I feel that I’m going to really enjoy SmugMug. I’ll be posting more details of how I use SmugMug in future posts!

It’s official. After giving Zenfolio another try, I decided that for my uses, I would officially switch to Zenfolio. Full story here !