File types

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deaner1971
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Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 12:01 am

File types

Postby deaner1971 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 8:27 am

I know that many of you use websites to showcase your photos. I recently signed up for a premium membership and Zenfolio and was playing around with it last night. I am using the site really for friends and family but still want to give them good photos.

My membership gives me unlimited storage so I am not concerned about file size and am focused on getting maximum clarity and giving people the maximum options as regards print size.

What file format should I use for uploads? The site allows JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs and TIFFs. They recommend JPEGs (and I would too if I was the one paying for the server space) with minimal compression. When I export from LR3 (as JPEGs), my files are in the 10-11 MB range (I am using a setting of 10 to minimize compression), which is probably fine but, if I have no limit on storage space, should I be using a loss-less format like TIFF?

I don't use TIFFs anywhere else but the images for the site are segregated from anything I would give to anyone else so flexibility also takes a back seat to print quality.

What do all of you use (especially in cases where you will allow the site to provide the fulfillment and therefore uploaded quality = print quality)?

Thank you all!


Andy
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Re: File types

Postby Andy » Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:30 pm

Hi Dean: I only upload jpgs to my SmugMug site. I upload the minimum size to show it at the largest on-screen size they have. None of them have a resolution higher than 72 ppi (theoretically the largest resolution computer monitors can show anyway, though, arguable some of the newer monitors will take advantage of a higher resolution). My thinking is that 99.99 percent of the use of my website images involves viewing them onscreen. While someone could screenshot or download one of my images for web-based use (e.g., a screensaver, or website image), with today's technology, it would be pretty difficult to make a large print from a 72 ppi image. If somebody needs a larger image, my experience is that they will contact me to make arrangements. I sold electronic images to two different buyers last year and they both contacted me to negotiate the details.

I have not had much success with selling prints (or the other stuff they offer) through SmugMug and my guess is that if Zen offers similar stuff, most don't either. If a friend or family member wants to order a print, you could always upload a customized version of the image(s) they pick.

As far as lossy/lossless -- that really only comes into play if you open, change, save and re-open. So when a site visitor opens a file, lossy/lossless really has no relevance. I prep my files from raw, and save intermediate versions for myself (e.g., if I am going to print it or copy it or use it again) as TIFF files. I convert a copy to jpg and purpose it for web use and that is what I upload to my website. Don't know if this rambling answer helps?
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

deaner1971
Posts: 443
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 12:01 am

Re: File types

Postby deaner1971 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:38 pm

Andy,

Thanks. I wanted to go with as large (read loss-less) file as possible because it is conceivable that a family member could want to purchase a very large version of a group shot (say at a wedding where I get my wife's large family together) and not necessarily want to go through the work of getting a file from me and having to have a print made when the site will do it for them.

If I was in a world where I was dealing with traditional clients, I would definitely follow your lead. Also, as my "clients" are getting my prints at site minimum (i.e. I am not adding any profit to the price above what is mandated for the site to get its cut), there is little reason for them not to just avail themselves of MPIX's service since it should be pretty competitive.

I found it very interesting that you are using TIFFs for mid-process. I was actually finishing some shots last night and my final step was to remove background items. To do that, I had to go to PE9 and that software cannot edit RAW (other than removing an object, I do all of my work in LR now). I made the mistake of using a JPEG and was stunned with the drop in size even with my compression set at the minimum.

What LR had output as an 11MB JPEG came out of PE9 (after a quick removal of the offending telephone pole, mailbox, etc... but no cropping or other changes) at 3-6MB! Kind of stunned by that. I initially thought I was doing something wrong but the save screen only has three options (matte, file size and some other setting, all of which I set at max files size/min compression) so pretty sure I was just seeing the effect of PE9's JPEG compression.

I say I was interested in your use of TIFFs as the research my shrinking files caused me to do was all about Adobe's attempt at a loss-less format (PSD, I believe). Have you used that at all?

Thanks again for the input and insights.

Andy
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Re: File types

Postby Andy » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:04 pm

Dean: Yes, I have used PSD files. I haven't done much research on wether PSD or Tiff is "better". I am just comfortable with Tiff. When I get done with my edits, If I have done a lot of work on an image, I save it in non-compressed, "lossless" tiff, perhaps just because it is a format that I have become comfotable with. Years back, I started using tiff, partly because it was a recognized format accross many platforms. I consider psd to be proprietary. As far as I can tell, if you are working in either Ps or Lightroom, psd should be essentially the same as tiff. But if you are submitting images to third parties my experience is that they want either your native raw capture, tiff or jpegs

Not sure we are using the term "lossless" i. the same way. In my experience/view, the term "lossy" refers to the fact that every time you save CHANGES to a jpg file, it discards pixels, eventually resulting in degradation of the image. My understanding of tiif and psd is that they do not behave that way on multiple saves. But if you make changes to any file that are permanent, there will be some image degradation. One of the great benefits in editing in LR and using smart objects in PS is that the changes are not permanent changes, but in effect, "instructions" that are stored and applied to the file. Therefore, no degradation of the original file. So, in my "version," the size of a jpg file does not necessarily coincide with the degree of degradation, or " lossines."
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

deaner1971
Posts: 443
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 12:01 am

Re: File types

Postby deaner1971 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 11:03 am

Andy,

Completely agree on the definition of "lossless". My understanding is that, with each save, a JPEG gets "recompressed" and loses some pixels that it cannot get back. Therefore, if I export from LR as a JPEG, edit in PE and resave the JPEG, the size of the file decreases with each save (including the export) and that change in size will conincide with a loss of some details.

By the way, completely see why you aren't loading to websites with TIFFs. I didn't think I would have any issues doing it (because of my unlimited storage) but, boy was I wrong! I saved as uncompressed TIFFs with 16 bit color. The files, from my 16MB camera? 84MB!!! Using a 16MB camera I foolishly though the site's 24MB single file limit was irrelevant. Even when I reduced to 8 bit, the files are in the 30MB range (PE cannot edit in 16 bit depth anyway so the conversion was necessary if not helpful).

I am now looking for a copy of PS3 (so that I can then ask for the upgrade to CS5 as a present for Father's Day, a birthday, whatever and I should be able to get PS3 and the upgrade for less that a copy of CS5) as PE also cannot edit RAW (aside from the things you can do in Camera Raw but I really want the smart spot remover which necessitates I work in PE in JPEG, TIFF, GIF or DNG).

And I am firmly into the "love-hate" relationship with technology that all of you with more experience probably hit long ago. :D

Andy
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Re: File types

Postby Andy » Sat Jan 07, 2012 5:33 pm

Dean: LOL re: the “love/hate” relationship. Computers, software, and now digital camera bodies, are “evolving” so fast we can hardly keep up. Wonderful news for software developers, who are busy creating newer “better” versions. Bad news for those of use who keep having to buy the newer versions to “keep up.” OTOH, when I was in college, one of my dreams was to someday have a color darkroom. Think about the cost of an enlarger, chemicals, plumbing and temperature controls, a light fast room, accessories, paper, supplies, etc. I never priced it, but I’ll bet it rivals the cost of PS. I paid $600 for my original PS version (maybe around 3.0 ish??). Pretty dear cost, but less than an enlarger, I’ll bet. Now every 18 months or so, I have to fork over another about 200 to “upgrade.” I have previously successfully skipped versions.

BEWARE!! PS has recently announced that beginning sometime in 2012, you will no longer be able to leapfrog from version to later version. I.E., you may not be able to “upgrade” from ver 3.0 to currentver 5.0 or upcoming 6.0. Be sure to check that out. I frequent a couple different photographer forums and a lot of folks are maddern’ hornets about this. Not sure I understand that. Adobe, (like Bill and Steve) is a BUSINESS. So, I guess, although I don’t like having to part with my hard-earned cash any more than the next guy, its pretty hard for me to get excorcised about it. It is what it is. You pay for your ticket and get to see the show. When the sequel comes out, you get to see it for a reduced cost, but you pay.
And, yup -- those Tiff files are HUGE! I think the PSD files might even be bigger. FWIW, there are wedding photographers out there who are shooting exclusively jpegs. There is no reason that a properly purposed jpeg of adequate resolution won’t make a perfectly fine photographic print.
Andy

If it sounds too good to be true, its probably . . . .

deaner1971
Posts: 443
Joined: Wed Sep 03, 2003 12:01 am

Re: File types

Postby deaner1971 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:07 am

Andy,

Thanks for the info on upgrades. May have to accelerate my plans. Honestly, version 3 might do what I need for now anyway but my plan was to move up.

I can see the anger about this though. Adobe has a pretty dominant position in the market so, if they roll out a weak new version but force you to take it by not letting you progress until you do, that does seem a bit unfair. But, you do have the option of skipping two versions and then ponying up for the next "full" version when you decide it is worth having. And, as you sagely point out, they are about the money and rightly so. If I had access to their financials, I bet they are seeing a big portion of their PS income coming from upgrades and very few buyers of "full" versions. I am also willing to bet that the renewals are highly correlated to "significant" changes and they get a lot of people "skipping" upgrades not deemed as worthwhile.

A few years ago I had a trial separation with PSE and bought Microsoft's editing software. I thought it was fine and was excited about the idea that each year I would evaluate each and buy accordingly with the hope that each out try to "out innovate" the other. Then MS go out of the game the very next year. I guess Mac folks can still choose between Aperture and PS but we PC people are going to have to just stay in our marriage with Adobe, no mater how abusive the relationship might get... :D



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