Working with Shutterfly is a breeze. Online registration takes just a couple of minutes and requires only your name and e-mail address. From its sign-in screen to your own personal album pages, the site's interface is simple and intuitive. Pages load quickly, even when hampered by one of the company's frequent pop-up ads. Your photo page displays either a single image and caption or a thumbnail album in the center of the screen. Editing commands and photo information are on the right and left, and a large button bar is across the top of the screen.
You can upload digital shots in one of three ways. Two of these techniques allow you to scan your computer for 10 files or less and upload them. The third method incorporates Shutterfly's SmartUpload utility, a nifty little download that installs on your hard drive and transfers files via a convenient upload wizard. Don't worry about uploading too many photos. Shutterfly provides limitless storage space. SmartUpload also supports simple editing functions such as rotating and cropping. However, you must access the site to perform more detailed enhancements such as contrast and saturation adjustments or to add one of Shutterfly's many impressive borders. Unfortunately, this online editing takes longer than the offline changes that Ofoto and Club Photo allow.
By invitation only
You must choose the photos or albums you wish to share and enter the e-mail addresses of your intended audience. When your guests receive Shutterfly's rather plain invitation, they can click the link to your gallery. Here, they can view an automatic slide show, click a thumbnail display to view larger renditions of any given shot, or order reprints of your images. Unfortunately, both you and your guests will see only a downsized, medium-resolution version of your photo, which isn't nearly as crisp as the original. Club Photo actually lets you view images at higher resolutions.
At Shutterfly, money changes hands only when you order prints or accessories such as frames and customized greeting cards. At $0.49 for a 4x6, $3.99 for an 8x10, and $1.79 for a four-pack of wallet-size photos, Shutterfly's processing prices match its competitors'. We received our multiple photo shipment just three days after we ordered it and were pleased to find our custom captions emblazoned on the back of each print. Our Shutterfly photos looked faithful to their original colors but were a bit overexposed and printed on flimsier stock than our Ofoto prints.
Questions and answers
Since Shutterfly is so easy to use, you probably won't need its tech support. Still, the telephone customer support team, available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT, was quick on the draw and very helpful. Shutterfly reps answered our e-mail queries within six hours.