SmugMug vs. 500px: Which is Better?

SmugMug vs. 500px: Which is Better?

Choosing the right photo platform can be overwhelming. Do you go with the industry giant, SmugMug, or the up-and-coming 500px? In this article, we will compare and contrast these two platforms to help you decide which one is best for you. We will discuss everything from cost to features, so that you can make an informed decision about which platform is right for your photography business!

What is SmugMug

SmugMug is an online photo sharing, image hosting and video sharing service.

It was founded in 2002 by father and daughter team Don MacAskill and Chris MacAskill. The company offers three different types of plans: Basic, Power, and Pro. All plans offer unlimited storage for photos, videos, albums, galleries and access to customizable templates or a design-your-own option.

In addition to its own features, SmugMug also allows users to integrate with other services such as Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop Elements as well as social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. This integration makes it easier for users to share their photos across multiple platforms without having to download them each time. One unique feature that SmugMug offers is the ability to create custom print products, such as mugs, t-shirts and posters.

SmugMug also provides a wide range of customer support options including phone support and an extensive library of tutorials. They offer several plans tailored to different customers’ needs, including free accounts for those who just want to store their photos and paid subscriptions which provide additional features and customization tools. [1], [2], [3], [4]

What is SmugMug

What is 500px

500px is an online community and photography sharing platform. It was founded in 2009 by Oleg Gutsol and Evgeny Tchebotarev.

With over three million users, 500px has become one of the most popular global photo sharing platforms for both amateur and professional photographers alike. The platform enables users to upload, share, discover, purchase, and license photos from a massive library of stunning images from around the world.

In addition to its vibrant online community, 500px offers professional services such as licensing options for stock imagery or commissions for custom work. Professional photographers can also join 500px Prime – a marketplace that connects professionals with customers seeking high-quality content from experienced creators.

500px strives to foster and nurture a community of highly engaged photographers. It offers users the opportunity to join groups, follow other users’ profiles, comment on photos, attend virtual meetups and events, receive feedback from peers and experts, and join in contests with monetary rewards.

The platform also strives to promote education through its blog and magazine which features articles by experienced photographers focusing on topics like editing tips, best practices for shooting certain subjects or styles, interviews with industry professionals, how-to guides, etc. 500px is a great place for both professional and casual photographers to learn more about photography techniques and find inspiration. [1], [2], [3], [5]

What is 500px

Comparison of SmugMug and 500px

Both SmugMug and 500px offer photographers a wide range of features, including the ability to upload, store, share and license photos. However, each platform also has some unique benefits that make it better suited for certain types of photographers.


Price is one of the most important factors when deciding which platform to use. SmugMug offers Power, Portfolio and Pro plans ranging from $13 to $45 per month (USD). They don’t offer a free option however which might be a deal breaker for some.

On other hand, 500px offers a free plan. And what’s more, their other plans are relatively inexpensive and start at only $6.49 per month (USD). They also offer an annual plan which provides additional discounts for those who commit to the platform long-term. The Pro plan that offers everything costs only $13.99 a month (USD).

Storage limit

Storage limits vary depending on the plan you choose. SmugMug offers unlimited storage for photos, videos and albums with all of their plans. However to upload RAW files, you need to sign-up for a higher tier plan such as the Pro or Power plan. 500px offers unlimited storage limits even on the base level plan. All this proves that both platforms are very flexible and cater to various needs.

Ease of use

Simplicity of a platform is important for photographers of all levels, from beginners to professionals. SmugMug offers a straightforward and intuitive user interface that makes it easy to navigate the various features. It also provides users with an extensive library of tutorials to help learn how to use different tools and features. 500px’s user interface may take a bit longer to get used to as there are many additional features available such as groups, contests and virtual meetups.

Supported file formats

When choosing a photo sharing platform, it is important to consider the file formats that each service supports. SmugMug currently supports JPG, PNG, TIFF, BMP and GIF image files. It also provides support for video files in AVI, MOV, MPG and WMV formats.

500px supports JPG, PNG, TIFF and GIF image file formats but doesn’t allow for video files. Both platforms also allow for RAW files, but only with higher-tier plans. [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

Comparison of SmugMug and 500px

Pros of SmugMug

Now let’s look into SmugMug in more detail and discuss all the benefits it offers.

Tons of customizable templates

The first thing that stands out about SmugMug is its portfolio hosting capabilities. The platform offers a wide selection of customizable templates to choose from, so you can make sure that your portfolio looks exactly the way you want it to. This makes it easy for photographers to create professional looking websites without having to learn any coding or design skills.

Support for multiple file types

SmugMug also supports a wide range of file types including RAW, JPEG and TIFF images as well as video files up to 2GB in size. This makes the platform great for photographers who need the ability to upload large files like high-resolution photos and videos.

Print ordering options

Another thing that sets SmugMug apart from other hosting platforms is its integration with print ordering services. Photographers can easily integrate their SmugMug portfolio with the likes of Bay Photo, Zenfolio and White House Custom Colour to offer prints within their website. This makes it easy for photographers to monetize their work and start making money from their photography.

eCommerce options

A professional photographer will also need to offer their clients the ability to purchase images. SmugMug offers a wide selection of eCommerce options that make it easy for photographers to sell their work online. Photographers can easily set up digital and physical store fronts, create custom pricing structures, add taxes and shipping costs, and use promo codes all within SmugMug’s platform. [1], [2], [3], [4]

Pros of SmugMug

Cons of SmugMug

While SmugMug is a pretty solid platform with lots of features, it does have some drawbacks that should be taken into consideration.

Costly plans

The biggest downside to SmugMug is its cost. The platform doesn’t offer a free plan at all, and the pricing starts at $13/month for its base plan. This can be quite costly for photographers who are just starting out, so 500px may be a better option if you’re on a budget. Expensive plans also lock many benefits like RAW file upload option, custom domain name and a website builder. [1], [2], [3], [4]

Pros of 500px

It’s also worth discussing the advantages that 500px offers when compared to SmugMug in more detail.

Good app integration

500px offers good app integration with powerful photo editing apps such as Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, allowing users to easily upload images from the desktop or mobile devices. Additionally, 500px also has its own photo editor that can be used to make basic adjustments to photos before sharing them on the platform.

Free plan option

500px offers a free plan that allows photographers to upload their photos and share them with others. This is great for those who are just getting started in photography or don’t want to commit to paying for a platform right away. You can also sign-up for paid plans at any time if you decide to upgrade your account.

Social aspect

500px also has a strong social element, which makes it easier for photographers to connect with each other and share tips and advice. This is especially useful for new photographers who want to get feedback on their work or find inspiration from more experienced photographers. The platform also allows users to join groups and participate in contests, giving them the opportunity to showcase their photos and interact with like-minded individuals. This is something SmugMug lacks.

Unlimited uploads on the Awesome and Pro plans

The Awesome plan on 500px offers unlimited image uploads, just like the Pro plan does. SmugMug does not provide an unlimited upload limit with any of its plans so 500px might be a better option for those who want to store a large number of photos in the cloud. This allows users to easily access and share their photos with others wherever they are. [1], [2], [3], [5]

Pros of 500px

Cons of 500px

While 500px offers many advantages over SmugMug, there are some drawbacks to using the platform as well. This is important to consider when deciding which platform is right for you.

No printing ability

One of the biggest drawbacks to using 500px is that it does not offer any printing capabilities. This means if you want to print a photo from your account, you will have to use a third-party printing service or download the image and print it yourself. SmugMug offers an in-house printing service where users can order prints of their images on various sizes and materials.

Limited video support

500px does not allow users to upload video files, which can be a disadvantage if you plan to use the platform to showcase your work. SmugMug supports multiple video file formats so it might be a better option for photographers who want to share their videos as well as photos.

Creating a portfolio site is expensive

Creating a portfolio website with 500px can be expensive as it requires a paid plan. The Pro Plus plan starts at $13 per month and the option for a portfolio website is only available by signing up for it. This is unappealing for photographers who are just starting out and don’t want to commit to a long-term plan. SmugMug does not require a subscription for portfolio websites, which makes it more attractive for those on a tighter budget.

Less intuitive for professional use

500px can be less intuitive for professional photographers as it is more geared towards hobbyists. It lacks features such as client galleries and customizable portfolios, which makes it more difficult to use for those who are looking to display their work in a professional manner.

Cons of 500px

SmugMug offers more functionality and customization options, making it better suited for professionals. [1], [2], [3], [5]


Does anyone make money on 500px?

Yes, by selling their photos through 500px’s Marketplace. 500px’s Marketplace allows photographers to upload their photos and set a price for them, from which 500px will take a 40% commission for free reasons. Photographers can also join the Prime platform for more exposure of their work, where they can earn 100% royalties on any sales made through it.

This makes 500px a great option for photographers who are looking to make money from their work. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it can take time before your photos start selling, and you may not see consistent income from this platform.

What is better than SmugMug?

SmugMug is by far one of the most recognized names in the photography market. It offers unlimited storage, secure hosting and a host of features to help you make your photos look amazing. However, if you’re looking for a well-rounded platform that has more options than just photo storage and sharing, then 500px may be a better fit.

500px is quickly becoming one of the most popular platforms for photographers due to its vast selection of features. From built-in editing tools to simple organizational tools, these help you manage and enhance your images with ease. Additionally, 500px also provides an array of marketing services including a marketplace where people can buy or sell prints of your work.

Do professional photographers use 500px?

Yes, professional photographers use 500px as a platform for displaying their work, connecting with other professionals, and increasing visibility. 500px is especially popular among wedding, travel, and fine art photographers.

500px offers many features that support pro-level photography, such as the ability to license images through their marketplace and the ability to set up custom print stores using third-party services like Black River Imaging or WhiteWall. Professional photographers can also customize the look of their portfolio with themes and custom URLs.

500px also has a Pro Membership program where members receive exclusive discounts on products and services related to photography, including cameras, lenses and printing companies. In addition, Pro Members benefit from better search engine optimization (SEO) and other marketing tools to help them gain more exposure for their work.

Do professional photographers use SmugMug?

Yes, many professional photographers use SmugMug. It’s a popular platform among established and emerging professionals alike because it offers an easy way to create a website for displaying images as well as all the marketing tools necessary to promote and sell their work. Additionally, SmugMug provides users with powerful customization options for creating unique sites that reflect their brand and style.

For those who want more features than what’s available on the basic plan, there are three subscription levels – Pro, Power and Business – offering additional services such as unlimited storage space and live support. Professional photographers who frequently shoot high-resolution photos or videos may find this extra storage particularly valuable.

In addition to being a great choice for professional photographers, SmugMug also appeals to amateurs and hobbyists. The platform offers a wide range of features and customization options that make it easy for users to create attractive websites without needing any coding knowledge. For those who don’t have the time or inclination to create their own sites, there are dozens of beautiful themed templates available to choose from.

Is 500px good or bad?

The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it may seem. Both SmugMug and 500px offer excellent features, but they are also quite different in terms of pricing and the kind of audience they attract.

500px is a great platform for photographers looking to get their work seen by a large audience.

The site offers free unlimited uploads, with the option to upgrade for access to extra features such as offline viewing or portfolio customization. 500px also has an active community, where members can interact and comment on each others’ work.

However, the free version of 500px comes with limited storage space (20 GB) and a much smaller audience than SmugMug. Furthermore, its pricing structure is more expensive than SmugMug and many users find their services to be unreliable due to frequent site outages and slow loading times.
Overall, while 500px offers a great platform for photographers who want to get their work seen by a larger audience, it may not be the best choice if you are looking for reliable service or affordable pricing.

Useful Video: Smugmug for sharing and backing up all your photos | SmugMug


When it comes to choosing an ideal photo sharing platform for your needs, it’s not easy to decide between SmugMug and 500px. Both platforms offer a wide range of features and options that can make them suitable for different kinds of photographers.

In this article we’ve taken a closer look at the differences between SmugMug and 500px in order to help you decide which one is better for you. We explored topics such as pricing, customization options, user interface and user experience, portfolio display, image protection and privacy controls, marketing and promotion tools, customer service and support offerings, community features, and more.

SmugMug is the ideal choice if you need more powerful tools, customization options, and storage space to manage your photos in one place. It also provides more robust tools for setting up an online store and making money from your photography.

500px is the better choice if you’re after a fast-growing photo sharing community with a lot of interesting content curated by expert editors. The platform also allows users to upload multiple images at once, making it easier to quickly post new photos.

Ultimately, both SmugMug and 500px offer great tools and features for photographers. Which platform you choose ultimately depends on your individual needs, preferences, and goals as a photographer. We hope this guide has given you enough information to make an informed decision about the best platform for your photos. Good luck!