In the past, amateur photographers who wanted to view or share photos would entrust their film to the local one-hour photo joint, then hold their breath. Now, if you have a digital camera, Kodak-owned Ofoto lets you touch up your photos, store them in an online database, and share them with anyone who has an e-mail address. Plus, if you want hard-copy photographs, Ofoto delivers stunning, high-quality prints. Ofoto easily beats its freebie competitors Snapfish and Shutterfly. But if you want to view images at high resolution, you may want to pay for Club Photo. In the past, amateur photographers who wanted to view or share photos would entrust their film to the local one-hour photo joint, then hold their breath. Now, if you have a digital camera, Kodak-owned Ofoto lets you touch up your photos, store them in an online database, and share them with anyone who has an e-mail address. Plus, if you want hard-copy photographs, Ofoto delivers stunning, high-quality prints. Ofoto easily beats its freebie competitors Snapfish and Shutterfly. But if you want to view images at high resolution, you may want to pay for Club Photo.
Simple yet effective
Like its competitors, Ofoto doesn't require you to install files on your computer. To sign up for the free service, simply enter your name and e-mail address at Ofoto's site, and you're ready to create your own personal photo album.
The site's interfaces are clean and clutter-free. Five general navigation tabs sit across the top of the screen, your albums or photos are on the left, and a small column of operational commands are on the right, each of which blossoms into a pull-down menu. If you need help, you can access Ofoto's impressively complete collection of help files and photography tips via the Help link at the top of the page.
Albums R us
To start building your album, you must first choose how you want to upload pictures; you can drag and drop them from your desktop, browse and upload them from your hard drive, or select them via the downloadable OfotoNow utility. The straightforward OfotoNow app not only streamlines computer-to-Internet transfers, it also lets you crop, rotate, and remove red-eye from your offline images--a feature you won't find at Snapfish. Even better, you don't have to worry that you're uploading too many pictures: Ofoto currently provides you with unlimited photo storage space--nice.
Ofoto offers an impressive array of online, single-click editing features and effects, including watercolor and soft glow, tint adjustments, and numerous artistic borders. If you want labels on your pictures, you must type them in manually on Ofoto's "Add a photo title" page, since Ofoto doesn't upload filenames with your images (but OfotoNow, the downloadable photo manager, does). Although this simple procedure takes but a few seconds per photo, you will wish Ofoto did it automatically if you have to label scores of pictures.
With Ofoto, it's easy and fun to share your albums with friends and family. You merely click one or more pictures or an entire album, enter the e-mail addresses of your intended recipients, and compose an accompanying message. Within minutes, your guests will receive an attractive invitation decorated with your preselected images. When guests visit your album, they can watch a slide show of your photos or use the thumbnail gallery to see individual images. Unfortunately, unlike Club Photo, Ofoto does not support high-resolution image viewing, so both you and your guests must look at small (448x336), less detailed, Internet-quality images. To be fair, this practice seems to be the standard among most free sites.
Speaking of free, although its album service costs nothing, Ofoto does charge for prints and accessories, such as frames and archival CDs. Ofoto provides print services, courtesy of Kodak (its parent company), and based on our tests, the resulting pictures are definitely worth the cash. Although we waited no longer and paid no more than we would have with Snapfish or Shutterfly ($0.49 for a 4x6, $3.99 for an 8x10, and $1.79 for four, wallet-size miniatures), Ofoto's prints impressed us most. Processed on high-grade Kodak DuraLife stock, all of our test prints retained their true colors, achieved optimum contrast, and were perfectly cropped and aligned. Ofoto also offers 16x20 and 20x30 enlargements, an option not available elsewhere.
Don't call us
Sadly, Ofoto's technical support is a mixed bag. The company offers a wealth of help resources online and responds within hours to e-mail requests, but it does not provide telephone customer support. That poses a real problem for anyone who needs immediate information.
Ultimately, however, Ofoto is a joy. Its presentation is crisp, its knowledge base impressive, and its print quality second to none. Telephone-support issues aside, Ofoto is practically perfect in every way, and we highly recommend it to all nonprofessional digital photographers.