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Best format for storing digital photos

 8:51 pm on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

This is a pretty simple question: my digital camera produces JPG files when I take a photo. When I transfer it to my computer for editing, should I be saving the resulting edited photo in JPG still, or should I choose a lossless format like XCF (the native Gimp format) or PSD?

Basically, each time I save, if I save as 100% quality, is there any more loss in image quality, and can I mitigate that by using a different format?

Thanks in advance!



 9:08 pm on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

Rule one of digital photography is to never overwrite the originals.

Save your originals somewhere secure (like a backed-up HDD) and only work with copies of the original. This way you always have the maximum quality image available.


 9:30 pm on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

As drbrain pointed out - originals are always the best quality you will get. Logically you cannot get better than you have. No matter what format you convert it to, they will not get better than the ones you downloaded from your camera.

In most cases it will get worse. If you convert them to a format that uses compression algo - you loose quality. Even if you open JPG and then save it as JPG - you loose quality.

Better leave them as they are, and don't convert to anything.


 9:44 pm on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

OK, I agree with the idea of keeping the original. But, if I make an alteration and save as a JPG, I lose image quality. If I want to do a further edit on that image, I don't want to start again from scratch.

So, if I take the original JPG, edit it, then save it as XCF, if I go back and make further changes, I'm not going to lose any more image quality no matter how many changes I make.

Once it is saved in XCF format, the quality stays the same. Am I right or wrong in this assumption?


 9:48 pm on Oct 8, 2004 (gmt 0)

IMO you should convert them to psd (or whatever) as this is a lossless format, that way if you manipulate them in any way and resave you will not loose quality, if you work with a jpeg every time you save it you LOOSE data.

only ever convert back to a jpeg (if required for the web for instance) as the very last stage of your work


 1:40 pm on Oct 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

IMO you should convert them to psd (or whatever)

Good advice, but rather than convert them, use 'save as' (batch for multiple) - leaving the originals in tact. If your camera has the option for raw file output, I would keep them this way. JPEG naturally compresses the image.

Store your raw files and then use a lossless format for editing them. I prefer tiff [google.com] and then you compress them into JPEG for the web.


 1:55 pm on Oct 9, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ordinarily the 'native' format of a graphics editor is supposed to be losless, so probably your best bet is xcf, and psd then when using photoshop.


 4:04 pm on Oct 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I normally store my photos in their original RAW format. If I'm going to convert them, I'd use TIFF. The only time I use JPG is for the web.

My old digital camera shot JPGs. If I was going to do much editing to one of them I'd work with a TIFF copy. Every time you open and save a JPG, the image degrades a little more.

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