What do you want in a photo gallery or web album application? Ease of use? Hundreds of features? Themes and templates?
Or, do you want a photo gallery with the fewest number of clicks; an instant gallery?
I haven’t done a complete count, but there’s easily twenty eleven Mac applications which produce photo slide shows. Yes, the one in iPhoto is free and works well. So does iPhoto’s web page album feature.
Three of the more popular web page album applications on the Mac are iGallery, Galerie, and the cross platform JAlbum. All produce stunning web page albums with a variety of themes, templates, styles, sizes, and won’t cost you a dollar.
So, how does ThinkMac Software plan to compete in an arena where the best applications are free, and Apple provides the same feature in iPhoto? For free.
It’s the “gee whiz” factor. It’s that feeling you get when you try a new Mac application, and you say, “Wow. Nice…”
That’s the initial feeling with ThinkMac’s new $15 Instant Gallery. The first feeling I had after five minutes was, “Whoa, this is nice.”
Instant Gallery is nice. At version 1.0 it works well and produces very classy web albums, or photo galleries, whichever you want to call your finished production.
This may be the most Mac-like of all the web album photo gallery applications we’ve tested. It seems to be a ThinkMac trademark. Find a niche where there’s already great Mac apps, make something better.
“Better” of course, is in the eye of the beholder. That could mean more features, more options, ease of use, more complexity. Choose your poison.
In this case, “better” means easy to use, very Mac-like experience. Instant Gallery delivers a very good try-before-you-buy experience.
Instant Gallery starts with a small box on the screen which contains an arrow and the instruction to “Drop your images here.”
Using iPhoto, I exported a few dozen select images to a folder. Then, simply enough, I dropped the photo folder onto the Instant Gallery arrow.
Instantly, a photo album/gallery appeared. That’s the “instant” part.
The Instant Gallery interface is very familiar. The left side column displays the photos in the gallery. The top has a number of pull-down menu options. The bottom has a toolbar.
The main column displays the photos and file names. Already it looks like a gallery of photos.
At the top, enter the Title for the gallery, select one of 13 themes, all of which are XHTML and CSS compliant.
Thumbnail sizes can be selected from a pull-down, as can the layout grid. There’s also options to display square thumbnails, and to show/or not picture captions.
Captions can be entered by selecting a photo name in the left column, then clicking the “Edit Details” button on the bottom tool bar.
You may add title, a description, and tinker with a few other choices.
The Advanced tool allows for image quality manipulation with a slider bar, modifying the image size, adding a copyright line, and other options.
There’s Preview and Close Gallery, and a Photocast tool which sets up an RSS feed for your gallery.
Sound familiar? It’s like iPhoto only elegant and simple.
That’s the key word. Simple. If you want total control over every nook and cranny of your photo album gallery, Instant Gallery is not for you.
If you want instant gratification, then Instant Gallery delivers. The themes are attractive, colorful, professional, elegant.
This is one of those rare Mac applications which is aimed squarely at the Mac user who wants instant gratification, yet finds the number of options in Galerie, JAlbum, and iGallery somewhat bewildering.
Tera, Alexis, Jack and Carol (the rest of the Mac360 staff) love both Galerie and JAlbum. I do not.
Why? It’s those bewildering choices again. While the end result is a very good, complex photo album gallery, the journey is not a reward as it takes several tries to get something that looks nice.
That’s not the case with Instant Gallery and that might well be worth $15 not to have headaches from the competition.
I produced three galleries with Instant Gallery and each looked wonderful and took only seconds beyond the time needed to enter a title, photo name, and add a caption.
Then, something interesting happened. I kept looking for more cool things I could do because that (creating the album galleries) was just soooooo easy.
Does that mean there’s not enough features? Your mileage may vary. Instant Gallery delivers a photo album gallery about as quickly as you can drag and drop. Still, with the elgance, simplicity, and great results, I found I wanted more.