Hmm, if it gets automatically scaled, then it won't be in the pixel dimensions you specifically cropped your image for, correct? Which means "largest" is a misnomer??? How large?
What I mean by that is that Picasa will automatically scale the image to 75% full-screen in normal mode and full-screen in Slideshow mode. This is a superior alternative to other hosting services, which usually display your pics to other users at tiny standard resolutions, like 450x300 or 500x533. So, largest in the sense of largest possible dimensions but still be able to see the entire picture on-screen. Most services allow you to download the original, as does Picasa, but people just want to see your pics as large as possible on one screen with a minimum of clicks and not have to jump through hoops/
- Sony ImageStation, for example, that has a ridiculously small (450 pixels in the longest dimension) fixed viewer size that does not change no matter how big your monitor is or how much resolution you have. If you have the right membership level, users can view the original image, but you have to specifically click through several links to view the original, and then it's way too big to view on-screen all at once. Add to that you have to repeat those several steps for every image, it's a lot of work that most users are not willing to go through to view your pics.
- flickr is better, but not by much, as it normally displays your images at medium size (500 px in the longest dimension), and then the user has to manually click on different sizes and click on Large (1024 px in the longest dimension), and even still, 1024 is not that big either these days. But that's too much work for most users, and they won't bother to do that for every one of your photos... so they usually see your stuff at 500x333 or so, which is a pale representation.
- pbase is better, as you can specify large or original sizes as the default viewing size and can control the user experience
"Optimally sharpened"? In whos eyes, I'd rather do my own sharpening, or *not*, TYVM. On what basis are you determining 'image quality' for comparison purposes of various sites, which do the least screwing around with your image?
Whenever a pic is resized / resampled, you need to sharpen or it will be blurry by virtue of the extrapolation or interpolation algorithms. Since Picasa automatically scales your images to 75% full-screen or full-screen depending which viewing mode you're in, it has to sharpen your images before displaying them, otherwise they will be blurry.
I say optimally sharpened, because no matter what size the browser window is, no matter what screen resolution I'm running, no matter what size of monitor I use, viewing my images on Picasa tends to look great.
And who am i to say "optimally sharpened"? Well, I took the originals, I did all the post-processing, and I set how sharp I wanted the images to look right before I saved the final JPEG. And in most cases, Picasa is able to make the images look just like how it looked when I saved that final JPEG in Capture NX or CS3, or at least, fairly close.
If Picasa butchered the images and made them look like ass, trust me, I would tell you. It does not. The images remain fairly true to the originals no matter what size they are auto-resized to. And because of that, I say "optimally sharpened".
That's the site I want to use---the ones that leave my image alone, as best possible. I notice that vBulletin, at least on some sites does all kinds of image compression screwups
Picasa leaves your originals alone and does not resize or compress them up to a maximum of 10 MB per picture. You have full control over resizing and compression settings for uploads using the Picasa2 application. People can download the originals if you let them. Picasa only optimizes viewing on-screen so that it automatically shows pics as large as possible up to full-screen.
The only drawbacks to Picasa are: (1) you cannot link directly to the image itself, but rather only to the viewer page in Picasa with that image shown through the viewer, and (2) the username of the picasa account is displayed in the URL, which means you don't want to post links to your picasa album on public fora like SF if you are using the picasa account tied to your gmail address! You must create a separate account for public posting online, otherwise you'll expose your main e-mail account to spammers, fraudsters, etc.
Just try it, man! You'll see what I mean after comparing it to sites like flickr and ImageStation.