Reviews: Photo Sharing/Critique Websites



In the final part of this Review of photography critique/sharing websites, I take a look at the well-established Usefilm, which defines itself as:

"... a collective group of photographers (people just like you) who engage in the creative exchange of ideas and critiques."

Usefilm is 4 years old but has just been given a thorough spring-clean, which makes it one of the better looking sites that I've reviewed.

Usefilm is the only site that displays advertisements, but these only appear if you are a non-donor. You can choose to donate $25 to make the adverts disappear, amongst other benefits which are outlined here.


4 stars
(out of 5 stars)

Usefilm has virtually all the features that the other sites have, and some unique ones as well.

For example, each member of the site has a "Karma" level. Karma is the measure of participation and support you have given back to the community. As you post images, critiques and so on, you gain Karma. A 1000 points means that you can upload an additional 1 photo per day (you are allowed to upload 1 photo by default).

You can also increase the number of photos that you can upload per day by choosing to donate to the site. $25 per year gets you an extra 2 uploads per day. Well worth doing if you intend to get really involved with Usefilm. There are limits on the total number of photos that you can post, just how quickly you can post them.

Another unique and perhaps slightly egocentric feature is the Charisma rating, which is "the sum total of all the votes on all your images. You earn Charisma by putting up great work." This is displayed as a number after your name for everyone to see, so you'd better make sure that your photos are good!

Usefilm's ratings system has just been expanded and enhanced. You can rate a photo from 1-7 for 5 different criteria, as well as leave your comments. If you're looking for detailed feedback on your work then Usefilm is definitely the place to go.

As with ShutterCity, the main drawback with Usefilm is the inability to create albums, which will be a particular problem if you upload a lot of images, although 24 images are displayed on one page.

Ease of Use

5 stars
(out of 5 stars)

UseFilm - Submit a Photo

Uploading a photograph to Usefilm is pretty straightforward and can be as quick or as complicated as you like. There are a lot of options for extra information, such as what camera and lens were used for the photo. As a bare minimum though, you just have to choose a category, give the image a title and browse to the file on your computer. Just make sure that the file is a JPEG under 300Kb and with the correct dimensions.

UseFilm - Stats

The My Portfolio option is where you will spend a lot of your time, and thankfully it's as easy to use as the Upload section. 24 photos are displayed per page, and you can click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized image and all the comments and details about it. You can also edit the information that you have entered about the photo at any time.

There are also a couple of handy features in the left-hand menu of this screen. Image Summary shows various statistics about your photographs on one page, including how many times each one has been viewed, commented on and rated. Comments to Me lists all of the comments that have been made about all of your images.

Overall, the parts of UseFilm that you will regularly use are logical, well thought out and easy to navigate.


5 stars
(out of 5 stars)

I didn't receive quite as much feedback from Usefilm as from the WebAperture or ShutterCity communities, although including a photograph in one of the ongoing Photo Projects did make quite a difference to how many times it was viewed and how many comments it received.

This may be partly due to the high standard of work on Usefilm. Out of all the sites that I've reviewed, I think Usefilm contains the most stunning photographs. In comparison, my work pales a little bit and maybe gets overlooked to some extent by the community, hence less views and comments. On the other hand, seeing everybody else's work should only serve to inspire you and improve your photography!


4 stars
(out of 5 stars)

Usefilm is a very easy-to-use, good looking and popular website that has just got better with the recent site update. The standard of the photography is high and the site is worth visiting just to browse through some of the excellent images on show. Usefilm should definitely be on your shortlist of photo critique websites; just make sure that your own photography is good enough to make an impression.

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