A little over a year ago, we were introduced to SmartAlbums from Pixellu. They helped photographers all over increase their productivity by allowing them to stop hating the process of designing albums. This year, they brought us a bigger and better product, and I got to use it first hand.
The basis of SmartAlbums is a general template software. It gives you layouts and inserts the amount of photos you would like to have in it. In Version 2, they addressed almost every option that people were saying would be great to add.
The entire interface is a little bit more sleak. It’s redesigned and has a few additions with options. In the initial SmartAlbums launch you were able to build flat albums, now we have the option to do matted albums. They took matted albums and made the headache that came with the design completely disappear. With this edition they added the matted albums from Renaissance, Finao, Cypress, and Leather Craftsman.
On the template side, they gave you a couple more options. Some people don’t want to include square photos in their templates and SmartAlbums now gives you the option to use only templates that don’t include squares. They also give you the option to only use 3:2-ratio frames. You also now have the ability to reposition, resize, and re-ratio your frames. In the previous versions you were unable to alter the layout at all, so this changes everything. Once you edit a template it gives you the option to save that template as one of your favorites. The program also remembers the templates you use most and makes sure that they are the first ones to be used for the amount of images you are putting in a spread.
A few other options that have been added are the ability add text to a spread, change the opacity of your images. and add borders. The program also gives you smart guides when you change things so that you can make sure that everything is lining up. You can hide the templates you don’t like and the system will give you a warning sign when an image is too low of resolution.
The largest (and my favorite) addition is cloud proofing. This means that you upload your album to SmartAlbums and then you send the link to your client. You add clients by name and email and it gets sent to them with a special link to login as a client. They can share that album with friends and family as a guest and they see it without comments and picture numbers. You can also add multiple clients. This means parents and family members can look at the proofing if they desire. The awesome part of this is that they can log in and see the entire album as you’ve designed it. Your clients can leave comments and submit feedback. When they are looking at the album online, clients can click on individual photos to see them full size because the design is not flat, it's more interactive. They can make comments right on the photo or on the whole spread. When they’ve submitted their feedback everything is then shown to you in SmartAlbums. You can check off their requests and send it back for their approval. The cloud proofing limit is 50GB which turns into a little more than 250 albums. It’s free for a year to use, and after that it will be $19 a month or $199 a year.
In order for you to be able to get the full effect, I've uploaded a test album to the cloud proofing and you can look through it and see how your clients view it. Log in using the email firstname.lastname@example.org with the password smartalbums and you can go through all the paces.
What I Liked
- Upgrading is cheap! If you own the first product, it's only $79 more.
- Coming in at $299, the product sells itself. Your headaches instantly go away.
- Cloud Proofing is sleak, easy, and saves every ounce of energy you usually use going back and forth with a client and trying to find the changes that you need to make.
What Could Be Improved
- There is still no PC support. According to the guys at Pixellu, it should be introduced in the next few months.
Pixellu SmartAlbums 2 has been launched as of today and you can pick up the full version for $299 or upgrade Version 1 for $79.