How to Compress Your Photos Without Harming the Quality

Photographers stake their reputation on photo quality. If I were to ask you, on a scale of 1-10, how important is photo quality to you? You would most likely answer me 11. Yes, I know this is a rhetorical question because photo quality is very important to all of us. I won’t go in as to why it’s important, since every reason is correct.

Photo quality is the reason why we don’t just go straight to printing right after a shoot. We want to make sure we give our clients the best of the best! Blurry photos, bad lighting, centering, and even closed eyes won’t make the cut.

Once the photo selection is over, we get straight to work on editing the photos we’ve singled out. No matter what tool you use, you know that this is going to be time consuming. However, it’s with these tools that you can manipulate the photos as you see fit.

At the end of every editing process, you are posed with a question on how should you set your JPEG export settings. Should you choose save for web? Or do you set the JPEG quality slide bar under 90%? 

Why aren’t you exporting your photos at 90% or even 100%? Simple reason is file size. You’re exporting the JPEG under 90% because you want your photo file size to be smaller for various reasons. With smaller file sizes you’ll be able to send more photos to your client via email or maximize the space on a flash drive.

Smaller photo file sizes are a big deal for websites too. If the photo file sizes are too big, your website will load slowly. In 2015, if your website is loading slowly, your visitors will go somewhere else.

So how can you maintain photo quality while keeping the file size small? Well, we took that question and went to work.

We decided to take JPEGs, which have been around for many years, and decided to make it more user friendly for the modern world using sophisticated metrics and tools. We developed an algorithm that imitates the perceptual qualities of the human visual system. This is how we make sure that each photo is compressed to the maximum extent possible by removing redundancies, without creating any visual artifacts in the process.

How can we compress without introducing any visual artifacts? Well, it’s all in our magic sauce, which comes in two main components. The first is an image quality detector. The image quality detector imitates the perceptual qualities of the human visual system, to determine the maximum amount of compression, which can be applied to each photo without causing any visible artifacts. The second is a unique JPEG encoder, which adapts the JPEG encoding process to the original photos, creating the most compact representation of the photos that is possible under the JPEG standard. That’s how we are able to achieve an extremely high reduction in file size without harming the photo quality.

Now it’s time to put it to a test. To make sure that JPEGmini does not harm perceived image quality, we’ve conducted subjective tests with real human viewers, according to the strict specifications of the ITU BT.500 standard. What these tests have shown is that the original JPEG photo and the optimized  JPEGmini photo cannot be distinguished by average users when displayed at 100% zoom on a computer monitor, or when printed at 200 DPI or more on photo paper. 

This is how the tests were carried out: We took a group of 23 people (the standard mandates at least 15), and tested them for 20/20 vision and for correct color vision. The viewing tests were conducted in controlled lighting conditions, with calibrated monitors placed in front of a gray-colored wall.  We showed the users 200 different image pairs, with a resolution ranging from 2500 pixels to 12 Megapixels, at 100% zoom (“Actual Size”).  In each pair, there was one original image and one JPEGmini image, shown in random order.  The task of the users was to identify which image had lower quality. This test is a “forced choice” test, meaning that users must select one of the images in each case, even if they both look the same.

About 50% of the users pointed to the original image as having lower quality, while the other half identified the JPEGmini image as having lower quality.  Since the results were within a statistical error window around exactly 50% (random choice), we thus proved that the JPEGmini image and the original image were identical in the eyes of human viewers.

So, just how important is photo quality to us? Let’s put it this way: we live and breathe photo quality! It runs through our veins. There’s not a photographer or web developer in the world that wants to be associated with bad photo quality, and neither do we. We are constantly working on bringing the best photo optimization tool to the market to help everyone. In today’s modern world, freeing up hard drive space, speeding up websites, and sending more photos per email is critical.

You can try JPEGmini for FREE by clicking here