Starting with Lightroom 3, it's possible to upload directly to SmugMug using the Lightroom publishing feature that's part of the software. I see that Jeffrey Friedl (author of many Lightroom plugins) also has a SmugMug exporter available. What would be the advantage to using (and paying for) Mr. Friedl's plugin?
I have used Jeffrey's plug-in, and I find it more functional and capable in general. It really makes sense to use it if you commit to using publishing capabilities instead of exporting. There's a good overview of the differences and why publishing is a better model here:
I've written about doing this in some detail as well, and that's avialable here:
so in summary, yes, the Friedl plug-in is worth using, but even more than that, it makes publishing to smugmug instead of exporting to smugmug viable and that's a real winner, once you commit to setting it up and getting it running.
Upfront Disclaimer: I work for SmugMug and I'm the developer of our official LR plugin.
Firstly, I want to say that Jeffrey Friedl's plugin is awesome. His dedication to continued development over the years has been nothing short of amazing.
However, over time, his plugin has grown to be overwhelming especially for new users. So SmugMug's approach to our own plugin development has been to try to keep things as simple as possible while providing a fully featured implementation of LR's publish interface.
Here's a list of advantages for our plugin, as I see them...
Here's a list of advantages for Friedl's plugin (note, others probably know this better than me)...
One thing to be aware of: If you publish "proofs" and then after an order comes in you want to edit the image in Photoshop, you can't republish the image to replace the previously published image (which was initially a .raw or other raw file format in your LR catalog) with your newly created .psd version of the same photo so that A) the print order is printed with the edits you made in the .psd and B) the image shown in your smugmug gallery is replaced with the edited image.
This is because you can't stack images in a collection, and publish uses collections. You can't keep your LR catalog sync'd with your smugmug galleries if you publish proofs then later edit those same images in photoshop. This problem occurs with the jfriedl plugin - I'm not sure if it also occurs with the Smugmug plugin.