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JPEG, a compression algorithm optimized for photographic images, is something we encounter on a regular basis. JPEG is not limited to a certain amount of color (unlike GIF, for example) and is popular due to its variable compression range, meaning that you’re able to more easily control the amount of compression, and consequently, the resultant image quality. In this guide, we will discuss the important things you need to know about JPEG.
Quick Overview of JPEG
Here is a list of things you should know about JPEG:
- JPEG is a lossy compression algorithm; this means that it discards some data from an image to reduce its file size
- JPEG is often pronounced as “jay peg”
- JPEG is an acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the organization that developed the JPEG format
- .jpg and .jpeg are the most common file extensions of images compressed using JPEG compression algorithm; they are the same, but old DOS systems have a 3-character limit on file extensions — modern operating systems recognize both .jpg and .jpeg
- Other file formats that use the JPEG compression algorithm are .jpe, .jfif and .jif
Semantics and Disambiguation: JPEG vs. JFIF/Exif
Many people refer to any image format that uses the JPEG compression algorithm as a “JPEG file.” However, most image-capturing devices (such as a digital camera) and image-editing programs actually create a file in the JFIF or Exif format. For all intents and purposes, when people say “JPEG file” or when a software application says they’re saving your work in JPEG, you can just think of it as a file that uses the JPEG algorithm, whether it’s really JFIF or Exif.
Why Use JPEG?
JPEG allows you to control the degree of “lossiness” by adjusting compression parameters. This way, you can achieve very small files with just the minimum amount of quality that you really need.
The second important advantage of JPEG is that it stores full color information: 24 bits per pixel (that means 16 million colors). GIF, another image format widely used on the web, can only store 8 bits per pixel (256 colors). This capacity for storing colors is why JPEG compression is great for displaying images that have rich colors and that are photographic in quality.
Opposite to the PNG format (which uses a lossless compression algorithm), JPEG uses a lossy compression method.
Lossy compression reduces the image size by discarding information. Think of lossy compression as an excellent book summary of just the important and interesting parts of a book you’re reading. For example, you could summarize a book that’s long-winded and redundant in prose, to just a page worth of notes containing only the information that’s really important.
The problem, then, is when you want to recreate the original book from your one-page book summary; it wouldn’t be possible.
The other problem is that if you continue to summarize the book summary again, then you’ll lose more fidelity and accuracy from the original book.
With lossy compression, compressing an image again means losing more data, which means reduced image quality.
Baseline JPEG vs. Progressive JPEG
JPEG come in two flavors: baseline and progressive. Baseline JPEG is an image created using the JPEG compression algorithm that will start to display the image as the data is made available, line by line. In a web browser, you can see JPEG images that are in baseline format when you see it slowly showing up, from the top of the image, to the bottom of it.
Progressive JPEG displays an image in such a way that it shows a blurry/low-quality photo in its entirety, and then becomes clearer as the image’s data becomes more fully downloaded.
Progressive is good because the user gets an idea of what the image will be right from the start, even though it’s not as clear as the final image, which is great especially for people with slower Internet connections. The progressive JPEG format also enhances perceived web page performance because it doesn’t appear to be loading in increments, unlike baseline.
JPEG Baseline/Progressive Format in Photoshop
When you use Photoshop’s Save As feature (File > Save As) to output your work in JPEG format, you will be presented with the following Format Options:
- Baseline: the image will be displayed line by line on the screen
- Baseline Optimized: Same as Baseline, but optimized further using Huffman coding
- Progressive: You can specify 3-5 scans, meaning that it will have between 3-5 phases before it shows the final image
When to Use JPEG
Photographic images that are rich/high in color are where JPEG compression is most suited.
Use JPEG when you want better/easier control of the amount of compression that you want to use for your images. This helps you in in maximization for small file size versus quality.
When JPEG Should Be Avoided
The JPG algorithm isn’t good for images with sharp edges such as text, cartoon drawings, and so forth. You should choose PNG or GIF for such images.
Also, when you have files that are simple in color, such as logos, icons, favicons, and vector drawings, you will get lower file sizes and the same (or better) quality as JPEG. To learn more about JPEG vs. PNG/GIF, read the Web Designer’s Guide to PNG Image Format.
Saving JPEGs in Photoshop
The following shows a comparison of the same image saved in various levels of JPEG compression.
|Original, file size: 23.2 KB||Very High, file size: 21.8KB|
|High, file size: 14.6 KB||Medium, file size: 6.73 KB|
|Low, file size: 3.78 KB||0 quality, file size: 2.72 KB|
JPEG Compression Under the Microscope
Here are the micro-differences of a zoomed-in, 8x8px area of the image above, from original to lowest quality:
Is Transparency Using JPEG Possible?
JPEG does not currently support traditional transparency. If you need transparency, such as when you are setting an image on top of another and want to allow the background to show through it, you should use a compression algorithm that supports transparency, like PNG or GIF.
Here is a simulation of JPEG vs. PNG transparency:
WebP: A New Image Format That Rivals JPEG
WebP is a new image format that provides lossy compression for photographic images, just like JPEG. A while ago, Google announced the WebP (pronounced “weppy”) graphics format along with its research. The research indicates that using it could cut image file sizes by 40% compared to the dominant JPEG file format. This means faster file transfers and reduced network burden.
As many web browsers don’t support it (yet), it’s currently ineffective for web use. Read more about WebP.
Practical Tips for Using JPEG
- Use Smush.it as a further optimizing tool for your JPEGs; it’s a lossless optimizer, so quality is retained
- To achieve lossless editing of JPEG files (such as cropping or rotating), you can use Jpegtran
- If you’re looking for a good alternative to the JPEG format, then PNG-24 is a good alternative; it will have a bigger file size for photographic images, but it uses a lossless compression
- If a JPEG image is opened, edited, and saved again, it results in additional image degradation, so when you’re editing an image in multiple sessions, save the intermediate image in an uncompressed/raw format such as TIFF or the editing software’s native format (e.g. .psd for Adobe Photoshop or .psp for PaintShop Pro)
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Paper isn’t getting any cheaper so getting the most for your dollar is always desired. I want to share 3 simple steps you can take to save some cash on your next print project(s).
1. Get more than one bid. The reasons are obvious here. By getting multiple quotes you can make sure you are getting the most for your money and avoid getting price gouged by just printing with the “regular guys”. I would get at least three quotes on any potential print project.
2. Print multiple projects at the same time. Are you doing a series of mailers through out the year, do you have several versions of a flyer (e.g. different locations)? Ask you printer about costs for running everything at the same time. By doing this you will avoid multiple setup charges and lower your per-piece cost dramatically in some cases. If you are having large quantities printed, a lot of printers will gladly store your extra materials.
3. Make sure your custom design is not adding to your costs. Sure I love custom shaped, and fun sized print pieces as much as the next guy, but if your on a budget this can eat it up in a hurry. If your not sure your print concept is going to fit your budget, bring it in to your printer and they will gladly make suggestions on simple ways to cuts cost.
4. Have you looked at printing via an Online Printer? I am all for printing locally but sometimes the pocket book wins out. If your budget is tight I would suggest checking out an online printer. Typically you can save a lot on your project. Now you will have shipping expenses too, but you’ll still come out on top! Remember to plan ahead when ordering online, typically they are a bit slower in turn around that the local shops. I would suggest www.gotprint.com to check out some pricing.
I hope you have found these quick tips helpful. If you have tips of your own we would love to hear them! Leave your comments below! And as always if you have any questions make sure to shoot us a line. Have a wonderful Easter holiday.
When was the last time you Googled your product, service or business? Well if it’s been awhile or if you never have, give it a shot. Click this link (opens Google.com in a new window) and google your service or product. Like what you see? Are you on the first page? The second? The third? Statistics show people typically don’t go past page three in their search results before they try something else.
If you didn’t make the top three pages you are missing out on some seriously sweet “free ad” space. Great google search placement can be a lot of work, but it’s not rocket science. One of the key pieces to getting a great site ranking is having other web sites link back to your site or domain name. If you don’t already have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, the link back to your site should be reason enough to jump into the social media pool.
We could go one and on about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and tips, tricks and techniques, but we just wanted to plant a seed today. Start with googling yourself and go from there. If you’re a do-it-yourself type, check out this download-able SEO started guide from Google for some great starter info. Don’t like your results and don’t have time to learn more? 5j is hear to help. Give us a shout, we’d love to teach you more and score you some of that “free ad” space.
Well this is the first “topical” post of graphicdesignsiouxfalls.com, and we’re going to hit a big one! Branding! What is branding you ask, well it doen’t have anything to do with cattle Businessdictionary.com defines it as: the entire process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product (good or service) in the consumers’ mind, through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.
Whew! That’s a lot to take in! We’ll we’re just going to hit on one part tonight and that is continuity or consistency in your look and graphics. We have seen it time and time again, the logo maybe the same but the rest of the document doesn’t look anything like the web site, or business cards or signage. Consistency in branding means creating marketing materials that match. This will do several things. First, your message will be stronger and you will start to gain recognition with your customers, two, you’ll save money, instead of starting from scratch on every project you’ll have a graphics “pool” you can pull from to save on design time, and third, it will make you look good. I know that’s not much but we think you’ll get the idea, if you want to learn more about branding your business product or services, get in-touch with 5j Design today, we’d love to help. Have a great night!