500px Still Needs To Fix Their Grid View (2016)

Amazingly, there really are several things that Flickr still does better than 500px even in 2016. Nevermind what the un-thinking,  un-discerning masses buoyed by popular fad think. :p

For a long time, many users were asking 500px to display images in their original proportions instead of forcing users to specify a square crop from their images. We finally got it in 2016! Unfortunately, the images displayed in grid view are all blurry. Really – go load up a grid view on Flickr to behold the difference.

The problem is caused by a mix of infrastructure, design and coding challenges. When 500px displays its grid view, it is loading images without proper consideration of the maximum width of the webpage. So a web browser essentially ends up having to scale a bunch of ¬†images that are too wide to fit into the webpage’s maximum width. When a browser does scaling, the images always get ugly and blurry. When you share your pictures to a blog or website from 500px and wonder why the images don’t look as sharp as they should, this is the reason causing that.

Flickr tackles this challenge with something that is built into its infrastructure. When an image is uploaded to Flickr, it actually creates multiple copies of that image at different resolutions. So Flickr is able to choose from a rich range of already-scaled images to fit in a webpage, giving us a sharp, pleasing grid-view of pictures in their original proportions. Flickr users who are familiar with embedding images by HTML on another blog, website or gallery are well aware that Flickr’s generous choice of resolutions is one of its greatest advantages!

Flickr shareFlickr’s HTML embedding options

So should you stop using 500px? If you enjoy it and it works for you – no! However if you have a separate portfolio page or blog – make sure you only use pictures which are properly sized to fit your website’s content width. You can test this yourself. For example, suppose your have a website and the maximum width for content display is 800px. Sign up a Flickr account, upload a picture (We assume all pictures taken with a modern camera in the last decade is way more than 1024px wide!), then embed it from Flickr into your website by choosing a resolution width less than or equal to 800px. Now try embedding the same image from 500px into your website and compare them. The difference can be quite startling.

Hope the tips here are helpful and have fun shooting and sharing! – WY

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