SmugMug vs 500px: Pros and Cons

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Unlimited Photo Storage

Comparing SmugMug vs 500px, then SmugMug is the better service if you are looking for unlimited photo storage, and the ability to sell your photos, while 500px has a better community and chance of exposure of your images.

When you are considering SmugMug or 500px as a home for your photos, there are a few key differences to keep in mind, with SmugMug more suited to those looking to build a professional portfolio, or those who want to utilize eCommerce features.

By contrast, 500px has an active community that comments on each others work, and offers you a better chance of exposure, but at the expense of a less customizable interface. It is similar to Flickr, with many users having accounts on both platforms, although most serious photographers seem to concentrate their time on 500px now, rather than Flickr.

Ideally, both SmugMug and 500px have a place in your photography promotion and display, as they fulfill different aspects.

See the full differences and similarities between 500px vs SmugMug, and their ideal use cases, in this comprehensive article.

SmugMug vs 500px

SmugMug vs 500px

Best for a portfolio site and for selling your photos

  • Pros:
  • Cheapest and easiest way to create a professional looking portfolio site
  • Lots of customizable templates available
  • Excellent apps allow you to auto-upload and edit photos on the fly
  • Unlimited uploads and RAW storage available
  • Very well setup for eCommerce and selling your own photos with private galleries and many printing options
  • Cons:
  • No free plan
  • No community for gaining exposure for your photos
  • Top end plans are expensive
SmugMug is geared towards those looking to create a professional portfolio site, and offers the lowest price of any pro-level service in this respect.
With unlimited photo storage, privacy features to protect your images from theft and the ability to setup price lists, you can also easily sell your photos for profit.
SmugMug does not have a free plan (but gives you a 14-day free trial) and does not have features to promote your photos within SmugMug – you should do this via SEO and other sites, like 500px.

Best for community and sharing your photos

  • Pros:
  • Free plan available
  • Good app integration
  • Unlimited uploads on the Awesome and Pro plans
  • Excellent for photo exposure and community involvement
  • A great way to build connections with other photographers
  • Cons:
  • No printing ability
  • More expensive to create a portfolio site
  • Overall harder to use for professional purposes
If you want a community of like-minded photographers to view your work and to connect with, then 500px is your best bet.
This site is very well regarded among photographers, with most having moved to it away from Flickr.
You can’t sell your photos, but you can create a portfolio site with one of their paid plans, although this is both more expensive and less fully featured than the plans from SmugMug. Therefore, you are better using this for the free plan for promotion, and SmugMug for your portfolio.

SmugMug Pricing and Pros & Cons

SmugMug does not offer a free plan, but has very competitive pricing, with the cheapest Basic plan being only $55 per year when paid for annually (and you get another 15% off by using this link). This gives you unlimited photo storage and a portfolio site, although you must use a .smugmug domain and don’t have quite the same customization features as the more expensive plans.

If you are wanting to sell your photos, then the Pro plan is by far the best, giving you excellent eCommerce options, including the ability to set prices differently for each gallery, and password protection on a per gallery basis so only certain clients can see photos relevant to them.

Smugmug Pricing

SmugMug also stands out in the privacy controls, letting you determine the maximum sizes of photo that are displayed, even if you have uploaded a full res file, and gives you the option of adding watermarks to help prevent image theft.

You can also upload your RAW files and are able to edit your photos on the app or through the website. With an auto-upload options for your photos, this is an excellent, cheap way to get photo storage without the hassle of external hard drives.

Many pro photographers use SmugMug as their portfolio sites. Take a look at the SmugMug photography websites of Von Wong, Elena Shumilova and Elia Locardi for examples of how you can build a varied portfolio site.

You can also get an extra 15% off SmugMug’s listed prices by following this link.

Pros:

  • Can create a professional portfolio site in under an hour
  • Lots of excellent templates for your site
  • Unlimited photo storage
  • RAW photo storage
  • Apps available for basic photo editing and auto-upload
  • eCommerce features and the ability to sell your photos
  • Used by many pro photographers for their portfolios

Cons:

  • No free plan (only 14-day free trial)
  • No community within SmugMug to share your images – you do this outside of the site on 500px, for example
  • Pretty expensive monthly cost if you want to sell your photos
Unlimited Photo Storage

500px Pricing and Pros & Cons

500px is an excellent community-minded site, with a free plan that lets you upload up to seven photos per week.

They also have two further levels of paid plan, both offering unlimited uploads and the Pro plan also lets you create a portfolio site. This does not have quite the same customization options as SmugMug offer though, and is more expensive at $95 per year, compared to $55 at SmugMug.

As I see it, there is no real reason to pay for a 500px membership, as you get all the benefits that you need with the free plan, providing you keep your portfolio on SmugMug.

500px Pricing

There are many active people who like, share and comment on images, and this means that it can be a good place to get feedback and to promote your work.

500px has many of the same pro photographers that also use SmugMug for their main portfolios. Compare the 500px portfolios of Von Wong, Elena Shumilova and Elia Locardi to their portfolio sites built with SmugMug that we saw earlier.

Pros:

  • Free plan giving most of the benefits that you need (but is upload limited to 7 images per week)
  • Lots of community involvement
  • An excellent way to promote your work and to meet other photographers online
  • Good app integration and upload abilities

Cons:

  • No ability to sell your photos
  • More expensive than SmugMug to create a portfolio site
  • Less customization options than SmugMug
  • Your page on the free plan looks exactly the same as everyone elses

Which is Better of SmugMug vs 500px?

It’s pretty clear than both SmugMug and 500px have their individual uses, with the former better for your personal portfolio site, and the letter more suited to sharing your photos and growing interest in you as a photographer.

SmugMug offers both a cheaper way to store unlimited photos, and better customization options, meaning that if you need online photo storage, then that is the ideal service to go for.

And better yet, by following this SmugMug coupon link, you get 15% off and SmugMug plan, in addition to the 14-day free trial.


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Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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