Zenfolio Review: I’m Very Impressed

Posted: January 26, 2009 in Photography, Reviews, Updates


Displaying images online and offering online ordering of prints and other photo products is HUGE for any photographer. Whether you shoot full-time and have your own studio or if you’re a weekend warrior shooting weddings and portraits in your spare time, making your client’s images easily and promptly available will likely lead to more and repeat sales.

In my Zenfolio review, I’m going to talk about the things that I feel are important to a photographer or photography studio when it comes to storing, presenting, and selling images online. I’ll also touch on points that would be of interest to anyone who might be looking for a safe, secure place to store and share images with friends, family, etc. Now, on to the review!

First Impressions Are Everything
I first noticed a Zenfolio ad on David Hobby’s Strobist blog. In their ad they mentioned a free, 14-day trial period that didn’t require a credit card. I was intrigued. I next came across the Zenfolio name while I was on the site of my favorite lab, Mpix.com. Mpix is where I really started to dig in and see what I could find out about Zenfolio. When I found out that prints ordered from Zenfolio were fulfilled by Mpix, I went to Zenfolio’s website and took the tour.

The tour is brief, yet very informative. It touches on the interface, security, organization, ordering, advanced features, and selling. When I was done with the tour I felt I had a good grasp of what Zenfolio was all about.

Interface
The interface is very slick and has a big Web 2.0 feel. It’s easy on the eyes and easy on the user too. Navigating the galleries are quite simple and there are a couple of different options for viewing photos. You can view them as they appear on the site, clicking thumbnails to move to the next or previous image. Secondly, you can view the photos as a slideshow by clicking on the “Slideshow” button. Last but not least, you can view the photos in a “lights out” mode by clicking on the larger image in the gallery. Click the images below for an example.

The admin interface is just as easy to use and it’s a cinch to navigate. From the admin interface you set up your account preferences, selling preferences and prices (Premier accounts only), and organize your groups, galleries, and images. You get an amazing amount of control over how your site looks and works. The cost to have something comparable programmed would be astronomical!

Security
Zenfolio has some really useful features in place to protect you, your clients, and your images. You can opt to have right-click features disabled which will prevent users from downloading your images from your site. You can also add watermarks to your images too, adding another element of protection. Groups and galleries can be password protected so access will only be granted to those you allow. For instance, if you shoot a wedding, you can upload the proofs and send the bride and groom the password so that they can browse the photos and order the ones they like. They can also share that password with friends and family so that they way view and order photos as well.

Customization
Zenfolio is very customizable. You are a little limited on theme choices, but supposedly there are more themes in the works. The themes will likely work for just about everyone however. You can change the layout of pages, add/remove Guestbooks and Commenting features, allow/disallow metadata information, choose what products/prints can be ordered, and a lot more. You have A LOT of control over your site and that is important to me.

Pricing
Zenfolio’s pricing plans are really, really hard to beat. Here’s how they breakdown and a brief overview of the features of each plan:

  • Basic – $25/Year: 1GB storage for ever year, 12MB max file size, fully customizable.
  • Unlimited – $40/Year: Unlimited storage, 12MB max file size, use your domain name.
  • Premium – $100/Year: Unlimited storage, 24MB max file size, sell images, watermarks.

The premium plan works out to a whopping $8.33 per month. Most of us spend more on soda or Starbucks than that each month. Keep in mind that you have to pay for a full year at a time though. Regardless, it’s a small price to pay for secure storage of your images and the ability for your clients, family, and friends to be able to view and order images from the comfort of their own computer.

Order Fulfillment
I have used Mpix quite a bit and they are my very favorite photo lab. My prints are always gorgeous and they are delivered very quickly, considering I’m halfway across the country from their location. You can’t go wrong with Mpix.

I haven’t used IYP Photo Products at all. They are the lab that fulfills orders for products like mugs, mousepads, etc. I can’t really speak intelligently about them and it would be unfair of me to do so. However, Zenfolio went with Mpix and they rock so I wouldn’t see why IYP wouldn’t be just as good.

Summary
I’ve compared Zenfolio to several of it’s competitors and I couldn’t find a single reason that would make me choose another service. Most of the others were more expensive, used labs I’d never heard of, and I just didn’t get a warm fuzzy about them. I look forward to a long lasting relationship with Zenfolio and if I ever do run into a snag with my site, I hear that their Customer Support is second to none.

Click here to view my Zenfolio site.

Click here to sign up for a Free 14-day Trial, no credit card required.

Click here to take the tour.


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Comments
  1. Acai Berry says:

    [...] Zenfolio Review: I’m Very Impressed « Stephen Zeller | Photography [...]

  2. [...] Zenfolio Review has attracted quite a few readers, and so I thought I would put up a link (image above) for you to [...]

  3. [...] Friday Wrap-Up 2009 August 7 by Stephen J. Zeller Friday’s here and it’s time to get the weekend started off right! How about by saving you $10 bucks when you sign up for a Premium account at Zenfolio? That’s right, until August 15th you can sign up for a premium account with Zenfolio and save $10.00! Be sure and use these links to ensure you get your discount! Check out my Zenfolio review. [...]

  4. [...] my clients prints as well. One thing I was slightly concerned about was that orders made from my Zenfolio account would still be fulfilled by Mpix. However, I read on Mpix Pro’s website that there will soon [...]

  5. Pete Seinen says:

    I can’t work with a vendor that won’t offer any phone support at all..

    That kind of thing is important to me.

  6. In most cases I don’t think that their customers need it – but I can certainly relate to your concern. It’s nice to call and speak to someone when you have a problem, but in some instances you wind up speaking to someone who’s not even in the same country.

    I’ve never had an issue with Zenfolio that would have required phone support – but that’s just me. How about anyone else?

    Thanks for bringing that up Pete – it’s a very good point.

    Stephen

  7. Robert says:

    I’m currently comparing zen with smug mug, did you happen to try them out as well?

    • I did try them out and I liked the services and features that SmugMug offers. What really sealed the deal for me with Zenfolio was the fact that they use Mpix to fulfill their orders and Mpix is my lab of choice.

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