Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mega JPEG files vs. TIFF

In January, I wrote a post entitled "JPEG2000 vs. TIFF." In the last few weeks, a similar question has come up. One vendor has suggested that librarians are too tied to the TIFF file format as a way of creating a high quality archival image. Many projects turn to the TIFF format because it is lossless and holds a tremendous amount of information. We fear losing data that may drop out if the file is compressed (like in the JPEG format). Yes, we're willing to use JPEG for smaller files that are viewed online, but we want those big unaltered TIFF files stored in the archives for prosperity posterity.

But what if we use technology that will create mega JPEG files? What if the image was created using a 16 megapixel camera and the files were huge (5-14 MB)? With that technology, could we overlook the fact that JPEG is a lossy format? Could we use these large files as the archival version instead of a TIFF file?

You might notice that I said camera above, not scanner. Using photography to create the image does not bother me; however, I'm stuck a bit on the idea of not capturing a raw file and capturing a very large JPEG file instead. I keep wondering if I would be missing something. Would I have regrets? Perhaps it would depend on what I was digitizing. For example, I might be willing to use JPEG files when capturing pages from a book, but not if I'm digitizing art work. Obviously, this is a topic/idea/reality that is not going to go away. The technology is being used already on digitizing projects. I just need to get comfortable with the idea...


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

i have one of those new picture frames that you can load images into via an SD cared and view them as a slide show.

i find that jpeg files from a digital camera play back great, but jpeg files made with my scanner do not play at all.

how come?

Jill Hurst-Wahl said...

You may have noticed that the JPEG files from your camera carry a bit of extra information in them. I notice this when I upload files to Flickr. Flickr knows -- because it is encoded in the file -- what type of camera was used, etc. It could be that the digital picture frame is looking for that type of information and doesn't know what to do when it cannot find it.