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But now I need a good system, simple to work, that will reduce a photograph from, let's say 360kb, down to 30kb or 40kb and still have excellent quality suitable for the websites I have.
If you just want functional images that look half decent then any program will do. You might as well use something basic to avoid the image resizing learning curve.
PS is #1 at image resizing while maintaining quality and has automation features like actions and scripting. If you know JS or VBScript you'll find scripting to be very useful. PS is very complicated, you could spend a lifetime learning about what it can do.
PSP is much cheaper, a good learning tool and friendly from the get go.
I haven't used Fireworks
1) save for the web
2) settings: medium at 30%
3) blur at 0.2
4) hit ok
This way you can cover some of the degradation that occurs by compressing this much.
You can get a 100+ kb pic to less than 30k and keep a fairly good quality pic. Settings may vary. You will have to experiment.