It should be noted that any device that encourages people to take photos that they wouldn’t have otherwise shot is good a thing.
Up until a couple weeks ago I had ignored instagram. I had my own system for shooting, uploading and sharing photos. I was using my iPhone less and my GF1 more. The biggest reason was that I was tired of the 3GS lens from my iPhone. My GF1 could shoot a x1000 times better + I didn’t have any images that needed to be immediately uploaded online.
When I wanted to share I just tweeted the image with decent results after I uploaded it to flickr. To get images from my iPhone to Flickr and Twitter I had to set up a specific email address. With that email address I would email an image from my iPhone to flickr that would automatically kick the title of image and a url to Twitter. It wasn’t hard to set up but it wasn’t exactly apparent either for those that never knew there was such a way to share via mobile. One other trigger with flickr was that anytime an image was uploaded it was also posted on my Facebook wall.
So a couple weeks ago I was having brunch with a friend and instagram came up. I pretty much dissed it because most of the images I had seen up till then looked the same. While the convo went on she described how it had changed how she takes photos, not because of how the filters work but because of how it enables her to interact and share with others. Since it had been a while since I had experimented with any mobile communication force I figured it was worth experimenting to see what I could learn.
Last Sunday morning it was pretty nice so I decided to shot both with my iPhone and instagram and compare it with my Lumix GF1 as I walked Madison down to Bowery from where I live. You can view the images at Comparing Instagram to the Lumix GF1 & Flickr Part 1. Much to my surprise a ton of different ideas about sharing and distribution came up as I pointed the different devices at buildings.
It doesn’t have to be complicated—I just choose to experiment with different channels. As I mentioned anything that is posted to flickr is automatically sent to my Facebook wall. Anything I email to flickr automatically is sent to Twitter. Anything I shoot with instagram is distributed within that ecosystem. If I don’t tweet or post the image to Flickr I can post the instagram image to my Facebook wall. All instagram images won’t reside on my Flickr stream. Flickr images never get posted to instagram. Just depends on how I want to push things.
What’s better, real time delivery or uploading at a non designated time? A person shoots with instagram, the image is almost immediately uploaded if the person has connectivity. With a normal camera it typically takes more time to upload it, and to a system that people they might know might not be checking as much.
Mobile vs Camera:
Sure, what ever camera a person has is the best camera, but what if the dpi is garbage? Trade off between immediacy and quality of image. If someone cares about about image quality they probably will cary something small as a GF1. The catch is that is near impossible to share live like a camera on a smart phone.
Small instagram images flow nice within its stream, enlarge them on a desktop, they might not look as nice. GF1 images look great at any size (for the most case).
Filters vs Natural:
This should speak for itself…
It is way easier to like something on a mobile device than a website.
Discovery of new people:
It hasn’t happened on instagram for me and I find it annoying that there’s no bio info of people I follow. I can find an infinite number of new people on Flickr and I don’t care if they follow me back after I follow them.
Now that I’m shooting with instagram I doubt that I’ll stop, though it isn’t going to stop me from using my GF1. Once I get the iPhone 5 all bets are off with the GF1. I’m assuming it will have the best mobile lens out there.
Quantity & Flow:
If I blasted a handful of photos from Flickr to Twitter it probably would seem annoying. I share the same set from instagram it probably is considered story telling. Having a camera forces some editing, have a pipe makes it easy to flow a lot though it also dilutes quality.