Using JPEG in Stock Photography
Once you take the step into selling stock photography you are a professional; no going back and no excuses.
What separates the pros from the amateurs is that the pros know the little secrets and invest the big bucks. One of the little secrets is that
JPEG is a lossy compression scheme. This is important because unlike an uncompressed PSD or TIFF file a JPEG file may look quite a bit different depending on how it was saved and what program was used to save it.
Image saved from Paintshop Pro
Image saved from Photoshop
Image saved 5 times from Paintshop Pro
Image saved 5 times from Photoshop
...look closely at the images; if you don't see a difference you are in the wrong business!
Paintshop Pro is a good program but this shows that it is not "professional grade," at least it wasn't when this test was made in 2003.
Because JPEG is a "lossy" compression scheme it should only be used at the final step, once the image is ready to be sent to the client. Even then, an uncompressed TIFF file may be preferable.
The reason for using JPEG? File size! A JPEG compressed image may only be a few megabytes while the uncompressed file would be tens of megabytes.
JPEG compression is best utilized when an image is being displayed in a digital presentation, especially on the Internet. This is because the size of the file is critical to having the web page load quickly.
For print use, especially for very high quality print use or where the image will be enlarged greatly, JPEG may not be the best choice because even the highest quality setting will produce some compression artifacts.
But for the vast majority of uses, you can use
Adobe Photoshop, set the quality setting to 10 or higher (I use 11 as the default) and not worry about anything. The quality is so good from Photoshop that it is almost impossible to tell the difference from an uncompressed file.
The key thing to remember about JPEG is that you should not save a file as JPEG except to save a version for uploading or emailing. You should always save a version of the image in .PSD format or some other lossless image format. Even if you shot the image JPEG you should save an uncompressed version if you have done any post-processing to it.
Back to the Stock Photography Resources Index