Ofoto was one of the very first online services for storing and sharing photographs. They were recently acquired by Kodak, who changed the company name to Kodak EasyShare Gallery. I’ve been using this company
since March of 2000, when they were just a little start-up, and I’ve always been completely satisfied with them. I’ve have had a few little problems with them along the way, but nothing too serious at all, and I think that if you use any product or service for a few years you’re going to run into some minor snags.
Here’s how it works, keeping in mind that this review was written from the perspective of someone who uses a film camera as opposed to digital. You mail them your film, they develop it, they put your pictures online on a password-protected page, mail you the negatives, and charge you $3.95/roll (I remember when they did all this for free and only charged you for the prints, but I guess at some point they realized that they wanted to stay in business). Along the way they send you a few emails to let you know how things are progressing. They send you one when they receive your film, another to say that your pictures are ready to be viewed online, and another to say that your negatives have been mailed to you. When you go online to look at your pictures you can then order prints, and their prices are very reasonable. You can also organize your pictures into folders, and you can share a folder with a friend so he or she can see the pictures too. Everything about the site is very intuitive and easy to navigate. And the print quality is absolutely great. The only way to get better prints is to go to a professional lab that will charge you much more money.
You’re probably already familiar with the advantages of storing your pictures online, since so many people are already doing this through through various online services (Yahoo! Photos is probably the most popular one in terms of numbers). But a quick summary might be in order anyway: it’s very easy to organize them into categories (usually called “folders”). This makes it very fast and easy to find the ones that you’re looking for. Another advantage is that you save a whole lot space, especially if you take as many pictures I do. No more unorganized shoeboxes all over the place. And it can also save you money–at least EasyShare can–because you only have to pay for the prints that you like.
The site also has a section where you can purchase frames, albums, calendars, etc. You can also buy a backup CD of all the pictures they are storing for you (though I don’t really understand the point of buying this when you can make this CD yourself with your own computer, for a lot less money). I really like photo calendars and I’ve purchased them from a few different companies. This company makes the best ones in my opinion.
One last thing: when I send them my film it takes about a week for them to put the pictures online and send me the negs. This is probably the shortest amount of time that it could take because I’m in the same area as they are (the SF Bay Area). I don’t really mind the wait. I think the anticipation ads something to the overall experience when see the pictures. But that’s just me. You might not like this–but if that’s the case then you probably already have a digicam so you can see the pics right away.
Kodak EasyShare Gallery is a great company. Give them a try!