Facebook supersizes photos and adds lightbox viewing

Facebook began rolling out high resolution image hosting today allowing users to upload images up to 2048 pixels on the long side. The prior limit was 720 pixels and 604 pixels before that. A 2048 pixel vertical image, 8x larger than the previous limit, has to be downsized to fit into the new Mac 27″ Cinema display which has a screen resolution of 2560-by-1440. Without downsizing, this is how big the image will be overlay on the new Mac Cinema 27″ display. In terms of megapixels, it’s like going from a .35 megapixel camera to a 2.8 megapixel camera.

Facebook supersize image relative to previous sizes. Model: Jess Robinson.

Facebook began rolling out high resolution image hosting today allowing users to upload images up to 2048 pixels on the long side. The prior limit was 720 pixels and 604 pixels before that. A 2048 pixel vertical image, 8x larger than the previous limit, has to be downsized to fit into the new Mac 27″ Cinema display which has a screen resolution of 2560-by-1440. Without downsizing, this is how big the image will be overlay on the new Mac Cinema 27″ display. In terms of megapixels, it’s like going from a .35 megapixel camera to a 2.8 megapixel camera. All users will have the new photo features within the next weeks.

Facebook 2048 pixel image
Facebook 2048 pixel image overlay on a Mac Cinema 27" display

Bulk tagging

Image tagging is becoming increasingly popular. There will be a new feature to allow bulk tagging of faces allowing the original uploader to tag one face and add the same tag to additional photos. Facebook will recognize the faces and temporarily group images with the same faces together to make bulk tagging easier.

Flash uploader

Despite the many reports of Flash’s death, Facebook will be using a new Flash uploader allowing easy selection of multiple files for upload. The result will be better reliability and a better user experience compared to the old Java based uploader. Facebook expects this will increase reliability up to 10%, particularly for users with slow connections such as those using tethered phone connections or those in countries with slower internet connections.

Smart uploader

The new flash uploader is also smart enough to detect that users are trying to upload images that are too large. It will resize the images to 2048 pixels before they are uploaded thereby reducing upload times and reducing server loads on Facebook.

Lightbox photo viewing

Lightbox image viewing has been adopted by most of the top sites to display images. It has many advantages including a much improved user experience at the same time reducing load on the servers. All images on Facebook will soon overlay on top of the page darkening the background. The image will display first followed by a LIKE button along with comments. A single ad will also display. The overlay image will allow next and previous images to be displayed although it is unclear if they will implement features to allow the backspace key to return to the previous image.

Redefining page views

One result of using lightbox to show images is that it does not register a page view for the site. This will have the effect of possibly reducing the page views for Facebook. For many sites, this may be a concern as it is one metric advertisers use to gauge a sites’ performance and popularity. With Facebook ranked as the number two site in the world, they are in a position to redefine the importance of page views. Facebook is aware of this. In a quote to insidefacebook.com, Sam Odio, product manager for these new changes said:

The funny thing is that everyone is tracking page views. This change will probably cause a significant hit to page views, but we but we think it’s better. It loads much faster and you don’t lose your context in the content you were interested in.

Most Facebook users are not concerned about image theft but it remains to be seen how many photographers will actually upload a 1365 x 2048 pixel image which is capable of printing out images up to 12″ x 8″ at 171 dpi.

Model Mayhem members will remember lightbox photo viewing was implemented on the site just three weeks ago. Some users complained and the changes were quickly made optional with the default method reverting back to the old clumsy html view. Some members went even as far as demanding Model Mayhem give them the option of forcing viewers to view images under the old implementation. Model Mayhem made a mistake by implementing lightbox viewing without proper testing and announcements. But they made an even bigger mistake but capitulating to user demands for no change. So now the site will fall even farther behind its already dated look.

With Facebook adding high resolution image hosting to their already vast array of networking features, it won’t take very much for someone to create a Facebook app with comparable features to what Model Mayhem offers and siphon off some members.  The only thing keeping Model Mayhem on top right now is their large user base. For the most part, they have failed to add significant new features that add value in terms of networking. Facebook has the user base and without even trying, they are quickly adding features that compete with Model Mayhem.