Saturday, August 23, 2008

File Formats For Fussy Photographers

File formats... there are endless discussions in Photography magazines about file formats pro's & cons lets just cut through all of that and get down to some effective simple advice so you can go out and take more photos.

Jpeg - it's simple don't save any of your work in this format unless you are desperate to reduce file size for emailing, web or video work. This format tends to be destructive and to the eye of a photographer produces lower quality images. Check out the above close up of a detail of a power pole, there is a strange ghosting around the pole, this is a JPEG on high quality compression and it looks bad. The main problem with JPEG's is that this ghosting really messes up subtle tonality and the three dimensional qualities of a photo. Don't get me wrong JPEG is a very powerful compressor that is amazingly useful but for photographers compression is the opposite of what you want, ie great images.

... well, thats enough of a rant, if you are going to save a file save it as either:

Tiff - this is the classic file format that has lossless compression can be read by plenty of software and has proved to be very reliable over the years. Save in this and you cant go wrong.

Photoshop - save those stacked & layered documents in Adobe's PSD format for good quality and the ability to edit down the track.

If you are using an image storage application like IPhoto that really likes JPEG's use it only as a secondary program for viewing photos but keep a file of your original uncompressed files as well.

There are other file options that have their good points in specific areas but the above two are versatile and have stood the test of time. Leave all that talk of metadata and bizarre profiling to all those nerdy photography magazines or for people that need to manage a big library of images that is searchable.

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