Hey Steve,

I have a quick question for you, might be useful for your column as well. Today we took S to her swimming lesson and took a few pictures using our Olympus point and shoot. It only shoots Jpegs and in the past any editing has resulted in considerable degradation of the already not so good image. I was wondering if it makes sense to convert the Jpegs to Tiff first as they are lossless, then process the tiff files and convert back to Jpeg when it’s done, to minimize the “damage” done to the image.

Let me know what your thoughts are on this one.

KVW

 

Should you convert to tiffs?  IF you are going to edit the file more than once then the answer is yes.  Open the jpeg, convert/save to tiff, and then clear the jpeg file without saving.  From this point work on the tiff.  You can open/close/edit a tiff file as often as you like without any file type degradation.  This comes in very handy years later when new software becomes available and you can start with a clean file vs. a file which has already been edited and is no longer as good as when you first made the capture.

 

Hi KVW –

Concerning your question, and yes the answer might be useful for anyone who shoots in jpeg.  Jpegs are different than tiff files as you noted because tiffs are ‘lossless’ and jpegs are not.  What this means, is that each and every time you open a jpeg, edit anything, and then save it, you are degrading the quality of the original file.  The old Xerox “copy of a copy” analogy comes to mind.

Should you convert to tiffs?  IF you are going to edit the file more than once then the answer is yes.  Open the jpeg, convert/save to tiff, and then clear the jpeg file without saving.  From this point work on the tiff.  You can open/close/edit a tiff file as often as you like without any file type degradation.  This comes in very handy years later when new software becomes available and you can start with a clean file vs. a file which has already been edited and is no longer as good as when you first made the capture.

Lightroom helps save the day.  If you’re using Lightroom then you can edit a jpeg, the edits will be stored in the sidecar file, but the original jpeg will never be altered.  If you export to CS5 Photoshop be sure to choose the choice where it says “edit a copy with Lightroom adjustments” and not “work on original.”

Years ago I used to be a jpeg shooter. I have tons of old jpeg files which I’d adjusted/processed as well as I could with the software (and my skills) available back then. The trouble is, I never made a copy of my original jpegs so they take heavy image quality hits if I do anything with them.

Of course you’ll want to make jpegs to put on your thumb drive to take down to the printers, email to friends, or share on the web.

Good luck

Steve

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