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Solved How Much Compression is too Much?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography & Imaging' started by ron40, Dec 30, 2018.

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  1. ron40

    ron40 Thread Starter

    Jul 6, 2004
    Photo Archiving/Compression Question

    • I have a large number of personal JPEG photos that I have edited in Adobe Liightroom before sorting & putting into Google & Amazon Photos. They vary in size from less than a Mb up to 5 Mb. I have been reducing them in size to less than a Mb by using "Save As" in Irfan View (a fantastic application & it's free). When I magnify them I can't discern a difference in quality between them.
    • These pictures are important to me & I would like to know just what is lost when a file is compressed, say from 5 Mb to 1 Mb. I can't tell the difference.
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  2. texasbullet


    Jun 11, 2014
    First Name:
    What I would recommend for you to do is save your original photos in a file and make a second copy (copy/paste) and use that file to do any changes. In case something goes wrong you still have the originals as a backup. You can name your copied file as the same name as original but include the word edited (or whatever name you want. example: john doe vacations edited).

    Does compressing images affect quality?
    While JPEG compression can help you greatly reduce the size of an image file, it can also compromise the quality of an image - and if you aren't careful, there may not be any recovery. It is for this reason that we recommend saving your images in a lossless format such as TIFF.
  3. Noyb

    Noyb Trusted Advisor

    May 25, 2005
    First Name:
    I agree with Texasbullet, But since you’re using Lightroom, It’s best to save your original as a psd.
    And since you’re using Irfanview, There’s no need to save (archive) as jpeg.

    The only “modern” software that doesn’t know a psd is a picture …. Is Microsoft.
    For the reasons you mentioned …. Most of the gang here at TSG are familiar with Irfanview.

    The quality (or lack of quality) of a jpeg will quickly show up as Noise (called artifacts) around sharp edges, such as a Text outline. Do you add text to your pictures ?

    Each time a jpeg is opened > edited > and re-saved as a jpeg … It gets re-compressed (changed).
    I “picture” this as a rumor procedure … What comes out the other end of the rumor clothesline is probably nothing like what was started :D
    For this reason, My personal rule is to only save a photoshop/lightroom psd file … as a jpeg ... Once.

    The Irfanview Forum says normal quality is a save quality setting of 75 or 80.
    I normally use 90>95 for high quality.
    I use Photoshop and any file I think I will ever want to re-edit, I save in the original photoshop/lightroom psd format that I was editing.
    Irfanview can print/view/browse psd just as good as jpeg, and I see no reason to save as a jpeg … or others

    It all depends on what you’re going to do with the picture.

    The question is … What is the biggest physical picture size you’d ever what to print ?
    300 pixels per inch is usually considered as the best print quality available.
    You can also change file size by re-sizing.

    Sometimes, I use 11x17 as a max print size from Staples (for ~ 2$) … and 300 pixels per inch.
    Also (the same rumor procedure) …. My personal rule is to only downsize or upsize …. Once.

    If it’s a B/W picture or scan of numbers/text … Use a gif file
    Something you want to save and maybe re-edit … Save as a psd.
    Something you want to Email or upload … Downsize and save the psd as a jpeg.

    For example ... The pictures I upload to Google are psd files ….
    Batched processed by Irfanview to 800 x 1200 pixels and a HQ (90) jpeg setting.
    If the viewers want to download and keep them, they can print them at 4”x6” and 200 PPI.
  4. crjdriver

    crjdriver Moderator

    Jan 2, 2001
    Whatever format you use, IF these pics are important, you make multiple backups. ALL drives fail; it only a question of when your drive will fail. For important data files, I like three backups; the original is backed up to two internal drives and a third backup to a NAS. That might be overkill however it only takes one time losing important data to make you paranoid about backups.
  5. DaveA

    DaveA Trusted Advisor Spam Fighter

    Nov 16, 1999
    First Name:
    You stated
    "they vary in size from less than a Mb up to 5 Mb. I have been reducing them in size to less than a Mb by using "Save As" in Irfan View "

    My question is why do you need to reduce the size of these images?

    I too, have had times when I need to reduce a image, but I only do that to COPY of the master image.
    Also any editing I do to a image is always done in a copy, never edit the master.
  6. ron40

    ron40 Thread Starter

    Jul 6, 2004
    Very, very useful information. I'm going to make some big changes to the way I handle my pictures, including more "reverence" for the originals. I'll leave this question open for a little longer to see if there are any more precious tidbits of info but I consider it pretty much solved now.
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