Canon has jumped into the crowded online image storage space with the launch of its new Irista image hosting and sharing site. The result of a several-year-long beta testing program only open to European customers, the new Irista website now offers free accounts to users from any country, though paid accounts are only open to residents of certain European countries. The new service competes with online storage tools like those from Dropbox, Google, Microsoft and Apple. 

Unlike the other cloud storage tools, Irista is designed only for photographs (with a future update enabling storage of video files) but the photo-only aspect helps the company add several unique features to their product.

Users of Irista can share their images on social media sites like Facebook and Flickr and can track the comments and "likes" on the services. This allows photographers to upload images once and then share the photos across multiple sites. (Hopefully other social media connections will be added.) 

Photos can be uploaded to Irista via a desktop client, a web client or as an import from Flickr and Facebook. The service accepts all the standard file formats without size limits, including RAW formats from other manufactures. Image organization and search tools are a major focus of Irista, with the ability to create albums, sort photos by year, tags or EXIF data. 

Irista offers several tiers of service, starting with 10GB of storage for free, a 'Value' service with 50GB of storage and the full range of filters and tools and a 'Premium' service with 100GB of storage. Oddly, the price for these services is listed on different parts of the site in the same amount for Pounds Sterling and in Euros. The Value service is €4.99 a month or €49 per year, the Premium service is €10.99 a month or €109 per year.