Ever since I published my JPEGmini review and subsequent articles like the last one on reducing backup storage needs, I have received some emails and comments from concerned readers, who do not understand the point of using JPEG compression software, particularly when there are other existing commercial or free tools available. In this article, I would like to address some of these concerns and explain the strengths and weaknesses of the JPEGmini software.
Determining the ideal JPEG quality setting in both Photoshop and Lightroom can be challenging, because we often see two different values to choose from. Photoshop gives us compression levels from 0 to 12 when saving JPEG images through the “Save” or “Save As” dialog, while Lightroom only allows us to input a percentage. While percentages are easier to understand than numbers from 0 to 12, as we relate to 100% being the “best image quality” easier, Adobe also created a confusion as to what number represents what percentage, since the ranges of numbers are not provided in any of the help documents. The truth is, the percentages we see in Lightroom do not really scale from real 0 to 100 in single digits. Adobe simply mapped the 0 to 12 scale to the percentage scale. This ultimately means that changing from one number to another, like from 85% to 90% might make no difference whatsoever in compression or image size, while changing from 84% to 85% would make a big difference.
One of the biggest issues many of us photographers face is the gigantic size of our photo libraries, which creates a lot of issues for backing up and restoring images. While we have written a number of articles on properly backing up images, with a recent article on a backup workflow, we have not spent much time on managing the backup size and reducing it. After-all, if the backup size itself is significantly reduced, the time it takes to back up those images improves drastically as well! Let’s talk about some of the tips, techniques and potential changes to your workflow you can administer today in order to reduce your backup needs in the future.
What do you think is the possibility, when you are choosing and sorting images based on the JPEG previews, that you are going to discard the better-quality image, and keep the lesser-quality one? Let’s take a look at a typical “training” shot for a holiday – noon of a sunny day, blue Ionian sea, bright white limestone pebbles, bushes with dark-green, high-detail leaves (which lose all detail if the shot is underexposed), deep shadows under the bushes. These types of scenes typically have a very wide dynamic range. We will see later, however, that the real range of the shot we are examining is pretty much only 8 EV, if the exposure is technically correct.
When providing high resolution images to our clients, or uploading images to this website, I often extract JPEG images between 70%-85% quality. Although some photographers often do extract their images at 100% quality, I rarely feel the need to do it, since file sizes get outrageously big, while the differences in quality are too small (and often impossible) to notice. I recently came across an interesting product by JPEGmini called “JPEGmini Pro“, which is specifically targeted at photographers like me that are looking for a good way to save space without losing image quality. By design, JPEG is a compressed image format that was designed for the web in mind. It applies lossy compression algorithms to reduce massive images from other formats like TIFF and offers the ability to use different compression levels. So when I first looked at JPEGmini Pro, I wondered how different it was compared to the JPEG engine used in Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, the two programs I use the most to extract images. In this review, I will be exploring the Lightroom version of the JPEGmini Pro, which seamlessly integrates into my workflow without adding any complexity or unnecessary overhead.