JPG Compression, Is It For Me?

This post was written by Gary on March 18, 2010
Posted Under: Uncategorized

When you are saving your digital photos, should you consider saving them as jpg files?

As with everything else, there are some pros and cons to saving your digital photos as jpg’s.

Pros:
  1.  Some people feel that jpg files are ok for digital photo.

Cons:
  1.  Other people feel that if you convert your digital photos to jpg files, then you will lose some of the quality of the digital photograph.

Both pros and cons listed above are actually true to some extent.  Jpg deletes some information in your picture to create a compressed file.  For most photos and for most viewers, this loss of picture quality will not be noticed.

How does jpg compression work?  It works by assuming if 2 areas in the photograph are almost the same color, then most viewers will see both colors as the same. Jpg then tries to save the entire area with the closely matching areas as 1 color. This makes the jpg file much smaller since less colors stored equal less file size. Your smaller images may be needed for emails or if file size is important when saving the file to a web site.

An example of where jpg compression could create a problem is if you have a picture with a shadow on a dark background.  Jpg compression will probably merge these 2 colors and your shadow in the picture will disappear.  This might not be a problem if the shadow is not important to the composition of your photograph.

Your main problem with jpg files is created if the jpg file has been saved multiple times.  Each time you save a jpg file, compression is performed again.  With each save, some picture quality will be loss.  Too many saves may make your photograph unusable.  Always edit your photographs in another format (png, tiff, or your default file type) until you get all of your editing completed. Now you will be ready to perform a save as to create your jpg file.  It is up to you if you want or need to keep the original or the edited version in the original format.

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