Digital cameras keep getting better, and as a result, just about anyone can get an extremely high-quality camera without breaking the bank. These days, you can get 7.1 megapixel cameras for less than $200. It doesn't seem like it was that long ago when a 2-megapixel camera went for twice that much, but one of the great things about technology is it always gets better--and cheaper!
If you're a serious photographer you probably like to use a full-strength image editor for color correction, filters, and other advanced features. But if you just use your camera for holidays and family events, how do you manage and display your pictures? There are a number of online sites like CNET Webshots, Flickr, and Shutterfly, which do a nice job of presenting your pictures, but if you want to keep your work local before pushing it out to the Web, want to post pics to your personal site, or want a few more customization options, a downloadable program might be your best bet.
Some of best programs for displaying digital photos offer several options for presenting your pics, with simple methods for creating slide shows, customizable Web pages, and the ability to send your albums via e-mail or on a CD. Each of these apps have options for some or all of these features, but you'll need to surrender an e-mail address to sign up for an included Web service. Maybe the best thing about these killer downloads (and their respective Web sites), is that they're all free.
Your best choice here revolves around your specific needs, so make sure you pick the right app for the job.
Photozig Albums Express offers a step-by-step process so you can design your project from start to finish. Large button icons with descriptions make it easy to start your project and select your preferred output for your images, including sending in e-mail, burning to CD, or uploading to a Web site. There are several skins to choose from that match the colors of specific holidays or you can choose skins to fit a certain color scheme. The Photozig Web site requires you register with an e-mail address, but you'll be able to display your creations on the Web for free.
JAlbum for both PC and Mac users is one of my longtime favorite free Web album programs. It doesn't direct you through the process like Photozig, but a quick look through the menus will be enough for you to get started creating great Web albums. There are several templates and skins to choose from, with more skins available at the JAlbum Web site. An integrated FTP program makes it easy to post albums to your Web site or blog. A new service for JAlbum lets you post your projects to their Web hosting service for free, but like Photozig, you'll need to register with a name and e-mail address.
Photo DropZone is the quick and dirty way to get your photos online if you don't want the hassle of managing your files beforehand. The idea here is your photos are all ready to publish, so you just drag the pictures to the small Photo DropZone interface in the lower right-hand corner of your desktop for instant publishing to the site. You'll still need to sign up, but once you're a member, uploading photos couldn't be easier. Once the upload is complete, you're given the option to view the finished album, e-mail the album URL, or copy it to the clipboard. The site where your albums are published offers only a couple of settings (no skins), but you can use the site tools to create a quick photo blog. This program is best for those who don't need fancy output, but like to get a decent-looking album up quickly.
One of these three programs will probably fit your needs, depending on how you want your project to turn out. As always, if you have a great photo album app, please let me know in the comments!