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Old Dec 22, 2003, 1:16 PM   #1
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Default What Quality (JPEG compression) setting do you use?

Question: what "quality" (jpeg compression) setting do you normally use?

I just bought a Minolta Dimage Z1, 3.2 Mpixel 10x optical zoom camera. I plan leave it at highest res (2048x1532), but I wonder how much I'd lose by using the "standard" quality setting instead of "fine". FWIW, approximate file sizes according to the manufacturer are 1.1 MB for "fine", 720 KB for "standard", 430 KB for "economy".

I'm an amateur, although I've used SLR's for 30 years. The pictures are mostly snapshots -- family events, vacations, etc, for which I mostly print as 4x6 or 5x7. But of course you never know when you're gonna capture the picture of a lifetime and want to blow it up large.

The reasons for going higher compression are twofold -- to get more pictures on my 256 MB card is helpful; but mostly it's because I generally upload my pictures to Kodak for printing, and my net connection is a dialup on which I get 28.8 kbaud on a good day (I live in the boonies). It takes quite a while to upload a set of pictures!

So, what do most folks use for the "quality" setting? I know the pros will use high quality or even raw, but what about the rest of us snapshot takers?
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Old Dec 22, 2003, 1:30 PM   #2
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I use the highest quality for most of my shots. A lower resolution would not caused much detoriation as long as your printing the size prints you stated. It would make them easier to upload because the file size would be reduced.
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Old Dec 22, 2003, 1:47 PM   #3
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I use a dSLR and normally shoot in RAW mode, which is uncompressed data and requires post processing almost always. On the occassions that I just want a few quick shots for family and friends, I will use the largest jpg format for less compression/loss of data but requires less (and often no) post processing prior to printing or uploading of files.
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Old Dec 22, 2003, 5:28 PM   #4
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Default Re: What Quality (JPEG compression) setting do you use?

Originally Posted by Blues
...my net connection is a dialup on which I get 28.8 kbaud on a good day (I live in the boonies)....
Wish I could get that fast a connection, I've never seen anything over 26.4 since we moved out to the farm. Our TelCo says they might run a new "trunk" line through a mile of swamp, but since there are only three of us on this end, I'm not holding my breath.

I'd suggest still shooting at the lowest compression (biggest file size) - you can recompress later to send down your speedy land line. Most likely you will be doing a bit of post-processing/cropping and resaving before printing so that isn't any loss you wouldn't get anyway.

Where I have seen the extra compression rear its ugly head is when using the "magic wand" tool to cut an area out of a photo. The "mosquito" edge effects are subtle, and increases with increased compression.

Do an experiment: compress a picture to the smalles JPEG file size your software allows. You will find the result is an 8pixel by 8pixel blockiness. Once you have seen that, it will be easier to spot lower levels of JPEG artifacts.
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Old Dec 22, 2003, 8:01 PM   #5
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Myself I prefer to shoot in raw mode or "fine" if I have to(5400 still dosen't have RAW support yet, listening nikon? ).

As mentioned before you can always reduce and compress the image later for whatever your purpose needs, but you can't regain detail and size that is not there if for some reason you want to create a large image.
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Old Dec 23, 2003, 6:55 AM   #6
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The file size that you'll get will vary a bit, often a bit below the size that the manufacturers state.

I'm not quite sure about the reasons, but it does seem to relate to the tonal distribution of the photo, where lots of similar tones = smaller file size.

As a result you may get more fine quality images on your memory card than you think.

On that basis I'd go for fine JPEG in your case.
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Old Dec 23, 2003, 8:48 AM   #7
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With the Nikons I've owned (Coolpix 950, 990), I usually shot in Normal Mode, except for landscapes and portraits (where I would always choose the best mode). Basic mode was terrible, so I "avoided it like the plague".

With my new Konica KD-510z (Minolta G500), I tend to shoot in it's Normal Quality mode for most photos (I can get around 93 photos in 128mb on average). However, I do switch to Fine mode for interesting Landscapes and Portraits (where I get around 55 photos in 128mb on average).

From my perspective, most of my photos are just "snapshots", so I know that I'll never really need very large prints. File sizes generally run around 1MB in Normal Mode (it's a 5MP camera). However, if I know I may want a large print, I'll switch to Fine Mode (where the file sizes are usually around 2MB).

I think that the fact that it's a 5MP camera probably helps some, too - so that JPEG compression artifacts are not going to be as visible at normal print and viewing sizes, as in a 3MP camera like yours. My Normal Mode file sizes are probably about the same size as your Fine Mode file sizes.

Also, my eye is not as "trained" as some others, and the compression algorithms in Normal Quality mode (factory defaults) seem to work quite well in this model. I can detect virtually no difference in detail between the two modes (even though the file sizes are much larger in Fine).
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Old Dec 23, 2003, 9:52 PM   #8
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Default I use Extra Fine

I use the extra fine setting with my Minolta Dimage 7HI. I don't want to miss the chance of being able to print a large image if I just happen to get something I really want to print. I bought another 256K card on sale for 39.00 to allow me to take more shots than the one card will allow.

If I want to reduce the file size, I do it afterwards with software. That allows you to retain the origional and then reduce the file size for sending out for processing. You can experment with settings to see what works best but many software programs allow you to process this way. Personnally I use Ulead Photo Impact (ulead.com) but there are a bunch of other and some I sure are even better.
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