I looked into Akeeba, but they have dropped support for PHP 5.2 and, from what I can tell, they no longer support J1.5. This was a serious problem for me.
Then I found XCloner, which still supports PHP 5.2 and J1.5! I tried it out on my site, and loved it so much that I installed it on my other 3 sites!
Hard to believe this is not a commercial extension. Top notch.
Then jVitals came along and brought it back to life!
jVArcade will remind PUA users of the same great arcade they grew to love, but is cleanly rewritten and fully supported.
Thanks to jVitals for giving this extension back to the community. And best of all, they decided to keep it free!
Then I found DatsoGallery.
This gallery and its modules have a clean, elegant and easy to use layout. It's updated often, and is constantly improving and adding new features. Plus, I use this on more than one website and, so far, it's liked all of my templates.
Currently, the only front end function that it is missing is user album creation (which must be done in the back end). However, Andrey Datso has assured me that this will be implemented in the future as the component is made to be fully MVC compliant.
Anyone who says this component lacks support clearly hasn't used the system in place. Submit any issues that you have on the DatsoGallery website through a simple contact form. I've rarely ever had to wait more than one day for a response. And if you think about it, that is a faster turnaround time than getting a reply on a support forum for a free product. Plus, any bug reports I've submitted have often resulted in a new release within that very same week (as opposed to what usually happens, someone gives you a snippet of code and expects you to patch it yourself).
My latest experience, which prompted me to post this review, was a DatsoGallery navigation issue. But in reality, the problem was with my site template. Andrey made a fix to my template the very next day and the problem was solved. Not many devs will go to such lengths to make sure that their customers are happy. Most will tell you that if it's your template, it's your problem. But that's not the case here.
DatsoGallery is a paid component, but the price is reasonable and you actually get good customer service. I see myself using this gallery for a very long time.