This week, while the rest of the office is going to be placing bets on our bi-annual Digi-Bowl ‘O8 (fun is mandatory), we’re going to be talking about file formats! It’s all terribly exciting I know, but it’s better to be able to make informed decisions about digital images so that you know what are working with how companies (like ScanDigital for one *ahem*) are processing your photos once scanned.
There are two major players in the world of digital images that you will have a choice between– JPEG and TIFF. Certainly there are plenty of other formats, but those are typically only used in specific circumstances. Now first and foremost, I know that you have friends who bought really expensive cameras and paid for full versions of the newest version of Adobe Photoshop, and these friends will tell you that .TIFF is far superior and that you have to use it if you want your pictures to look anywhere near as good as film instead of a giant mess of pixilated poo. Well, maybe they don’t use that exact wording, but I know you have sophisticated photo friends because I do too.
The primary difference between TIFF and JPEG is that .tiff is a “loseless” format whereas .jpeg is “lossy”, meaning that .tiff does not lose information on saving where .jpeg does. I realize that this makes it look like a clear cut case for .tiff but there are many many more factors to consider. No small aspect of this is file size– a .jpeg file can be under half the size of a .tiff file with little to no perceptible quality loss. This size difference quickly adds up to a huge amount of space if you are working with a large number of images. Also you can drastically minimize quality loss in .jpeg images by making sure that you continually save it at the highest quality settings. It makes sense that if you save the .jpeg at 50% quality then change something and save it at 50% again you will basically be cutting it in half every time and therefore lose more and more information from the image. However if you save the image at 100% each time, then you are protecting the integrity of the image.
A good article to take a look at, which demonstrates the differences is by Ken Rockwell and can be found here. Rockwell’s article is about .JPEG vs .RAW files, but the principles are basically the same because RAW is a loseless format like .TIFF is.
The most basic guide is that 99% of our customers will be able to do everything that they want with .JPEG images and have beautiful results. For professionals who simply need a high quality scan, and do not want us editing their image in anyway because they will be doing that themselves, we are happy to offer .TIFF format.