Google’s free photo organizer Picasa has been updated to version 2.5. (As of today, the main download page may not be updated to the new version; according to this blog, it can be downloaded directly from Google by clicking on this link.)

I invested some time in Adobe Photoshop Elements and found it was time well spent; I think its organizer and editor are far better than Picasa and worth the learning curve. But Picasa is head and shoulders above almost every other program out there for working with photos – certainly preferable to the crud bundled with digital cameras.

Google is rolling out a connected web service for uploading and sharing photos, similar to Yahoo Photos and Flickr. Picasa Web Albums is currently in limited release; it has the typical clean, attractive Google look.

Did you know that the photo sharing services resize your photos – reducing the resolution? It’s not easy to tell whether they save the original, high resolution file. The Picasa Web Album FAQ says the photos are “automatically optimized and resized to fill available screen space,” and claims that it’s “easy to download uploaded photos back to your computer.” Can your friends and family download the original high resolution photo to their computer? Hard to say. Yahoo Photos only displays 480×360 “screen-size” version of your photos. Only SBC Yahoo customers can download the high resolution versions back to their computer and there doesn’t appear to be any way to share the high resolution versions with others. Flickr resizes your photos to 1024×768; Flickr only keeps your original image if you’re paying for a “Pro” account.

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