File Under: Visual Design, Web Apps

Flickr: When It Comes to Photos, Bigger Is Better

Size matters: Flickr's lightbox view now offers much larger images.

Yahoo is once again lavishing some attention on Flickr. Flickr has already launched a new photo uploader and a new photo editor in recent weeks, and now the site is making your images look even better with new, higher-resolution photo displays.

It’s been nearly two years since Flickr last redesigned its photo pages to display larger images. Since then screen resolutions have only improved, and when it comes to viewing photos you don’t have to be a pro photographer to know that bigger is better.

To make your uploaded images look better — especially when you’re browsing in fullscreen mode — Flickr is introducing two new photo sizes, 2048 and 1600 pixels.

Right now you’ll only see the new larger images when you enter Flickr’s “lightbox” view with its darker, photo-friendly interface (just click an image to enter lightbox view). At the moment the regular photo pages remain unchanged. However, the Flickr blog reports that the larger images will soon be available through Flickr’s API and “a few other places over the next couple of weeks.” While the new image sizes are probably too large for the default photo pages, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Flickr refresh the photo page layout with larger images in the near future.

The larger of the two new photo sizes also seems like a future-friendly choice since it works well with very high-res screens like what you’ll find on Apple’s latest iPad. Although Flickr does not appear to be doing so just yet, serving the larger images to the iPad would make for sharper photos on the iPad’s high-resolution screen. [Update: The Flickr team tells Webmonkey that it "just enabled hi-res photo sharing to the new iPad this morning."]

Naturally, to take advantage of the new larger image sizes Flickr is now creating, you’ll need to be uploading photos at least that large. But given that most phone cameras produce images in that pixel range these days, there’s a good chance you already are.

Flickr Pro members can control how large their images are displayed; just head to the new image size settings page. By default Flickr sets this to “best display size,” though if you want to stop people from downloading high-res copies of your images you can limit the display size to 1024 pixels. The new image size setting doesn’t affect who can download your original files, just those created by Flickr. But since the sizes Flickr creates are larger than what most original images would have been back when Flickr first launched, the new setting makes sense.

One thing to note with the new image sizes: they only apply to photos uploaded since Mar. 1, 2012; older images won’t be resized. The other thing to know is that if you upload something with a long edge of less than 2048 pixels, Flickr won’t upsize it so there’s no need to worry about small images being pixelated.

The new image sizes may not win over fans of filter-happy, low-res image sharing websites, but for Flickr aficionados it offers a compelling reason to stick around.