20MB File Size Limits on Photo Sharing Sites are Stupid
I noticed today for the first time that Flickr has been resizing all of my photos that I upload to the site over 20MB. I’ve known that Flickr has had a 20MB size limit for a while and in the back of my mind always sort of wondered why my photos over 20MB were still uploading to Flickr. I never really investigated it until today though.
Earlier this morning I uploaded this photo to Flickr. My original image is 5415×3610 pixels and is 23.5 MB. In Flickr’s bulk uploader (that I use to upload all of my photos to flickr) I’ve selected the option “don’t resize my photos.” Out of my 25 uploads this morning, flickr did in fact upload the actual originals of 24 of the 25 photos. The one that was over 20MB though was automatically resized to 2048 x 1365 pixels and now is a miserly 627KB.
While I can understand where Flickr might not want to notify me that my image was over the 20MB limit, reducing it down to a sub 1M file seems like overkill. I’ve always assumed that my photos on flickr could be perfect backup copies for me in the event that I lost my original photos (which are already backed up on multiple drobos and elsewhere in the cloud). It’s disappointing to know that even though I told the bulk uploader not to resize my photos that Flickr has been resizing some of my photos anyways. I suggest that if they are going to keep doing this that they put a disclaimer on the bulk uploader that photos over 20MB will be resized.
But lets talk about the stupid 20MB requirement in the first place. You can fit about 100,000 20MB files on a 2TB hard drive. You can buy a 2TB hard drive
retail now at Amazon.com for $80. (I guarantee you Yahoo pays less than retail).
99.99999% of Pro accounts on Flickr probably have less than 100,000 photos (and the same for 2TB). So Yahoo gets reoccurring fee revenue of $29 per year for each Pro account, but they have this stupid 20MB cap on photos that probably really costs them next to nothing.
Now maybe the 20MB cap limit made more sense a few years ago when storage was more expensive and DSLRs didn’t really produce 20MB+ sized images. But today’s Canon 5D Mark 2 (one of the most popular DSLRs with Flickr photographers) regularly produces a small number of files over 20MB. It seems stupid to me that to save pennies at best, Flickr would resize users’ photos (without really disclosing it to them). I think the time has come that Flickr at least consider raising this limit to 50MB. This would cover the bulk of the DSLR market out there today while likely costing Flickr very little.
Given that most people never view the original sized photos on Flickr I can’t imagine that bandwidth is a significant issue. And of course storage is only likely to get cheaper and cheaper in the months/years ahead.
So which innovative company is going to drop the stupid 20MB limit and let photographers actually upload their photos up to a more reasonable size without resizing (like say 50MB)?
By the way, Google’s Picasaweb Albums also has the stupid 20MB file size limit, which makes even less sense on Picasa because there you actually pay there by how much storage you use. What should they care if you upload 100 40MB files or 200 80MB files? You’re paying for the storage, why limit the file size?
Both of these of course are better than the Facebookery’s default of 2048 pixels.