The Good and the Bad of the Notorious JPEG Format

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There are many types of file formats used in digital photography and each of these formats are adapted for a certain purpose: printing, archiving, web publishing, post processing, capture, etc. The most common file formats are JPEG, RAW, TIFF, GIF and PNG.

Most of the digital cameras, except compact cameras, the “point and shoot” types, offer two types of files for storage: JPEG and RAW. Keeping in mind that the photographer is the one behind the final look of the picture, it is important to know what format to choose.

jpeg-format

The most common and of course the most used file format in digital imaging is JPEG. The first aspect to be noticed about it is that JPEG offers a good balance between the quality of the image and its dimensions. This is why JPEG has become a standard in image story fulfilling the purpose it was created for.

This format uses a mathematical algorithm to compress the image achieving this with the minimum loss of image quality. Here is how this compression is done.

The compression algorithm proposed by Joint photographic Expert Group is based firstly on the sensibility of the human eye, which grows at the small variations of light and color. The compression algorithm offers a higher influence to the fine modifications of light in comparison with the modification of color.

How big is the image compression depends mostly on its content, meaning that the images with a lot of details or a lot of noise will be less compressed than the images with a simpler texture without the necessary details. A useful aspect of the JPEG algorithm is its capacity to have a variable compression rate that the user can manipulate freely.

It is good to know that a successive post processing of a JPEG image will reduce significantly the quality of that image. The first compression step when the image is transferred from the way the camera has stored it and transformed into the JPEG format you want to keep as memory, will not affect the quality. However, if you process the shot in question using Adobe Photoshop or any other photo editor software and save the result as JPEG, you lose an impressive amount of quality.

JPEG is good for pictures you want to take and send via email, especially if you need to send them in a smaller format. This is why this particular format is the favorite of news photography.

Posted in: Digital Imaging

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