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Flickr gets a major facelift -- opt-in now to check it out!

There's a new redesign afoot over at Flickr, and it's a big one! It's not actually implemented quite yet, but you can opt-in to activate it for your account, which would let you use the new design when viewing Flickr photo pages. Other people would still see your account as normal if they haven't opted-in yet -- at least until Flickr makes it the new default design, at which point it will be "the exclusive viewing option for all images on Flickr."

First and foremost, they've finally changed the basic page layout to a slightly wider format, and changed the default image width from 500 pixels to 640 pixels. A jump like that makes a world of difference, but they didn't stop there. Instead of the classic "view all sizes" option being located directly on the front page, it's now an option in the "Actions" drop-down menu just above the image. Users can also either click on the image itself, or a magnification icon above the image to open a lightbox. The large size of the image is displayed in the lightbox.

User-actions like adding to gallery, viewing EXIF data, sharing the image, or adding to favorites are also available directly above the image.

There's also been a bit of cleaning-up in the sidebar. Below the photographer's name is now the short EXIF note stating which camera was used, along with the date the photo was taken (if available). Below that is a new mapping function, which can be used by the photographer to pin the location of the photo on a small map. Further down the bar is another nice change -- where there used to be three images (previous, current and next in the photostream), there is now a line of five.

The lightbox itself is nice, but it has its own added features as well; the "view all sizes" option is now available there, and along with a "favorite" button, it also has slideshow and navigation buttons to view newer or older images in the photostream. Placing the option to view all sizes both on the front page and in the lightbox is a nice touch, but the redundancy of already showing the large image size in the lightbox has caused a bit of contention among users who don't want people having access to them in the first place.

There's already a great deal of negativity surrounding the lightbox in discussion threads at Flickr. One thing that seems to be riling up many users is how the new redesign, and the lightbox segment in particular, allows for easier download of large-sized images. If you've ever come across the infamous Flickr Spaceball before, you know something about the lengths that many Flickr users will go to keep their images from being downloaded without their express consent.

If you try the new redesign and decide that you hate it, you can keep the old familiar look of Flickr for the time being by going to their opt-out page. Be warned though; Flickr seems to be intent on making this new look the new look. So you may as well get used to it now, right?

Tags: Flickr, news, redesign