JPEG is the most widely used image format both on the web and locally. Until now all attempts to modernize it failed: both JPEG2000 and JPEG XR weren’t adopted by camera manufacturers and remain outsiders. As WebP, pushed by Google, rivals positions of JPEG on the web, The Independent JPEG Group releases a new version of the software library that should make JPEG more appealing to the photo community.
Now, what’s there for photogs?
- Entirely loss-less compression;
- 12-bit color range.
It seems like a nice addition, but actually, we have all of that today and even more with Raw formats. The thing isn’t only in its lower bit-depth (I’m referring to Nikon’s 14-bit and Leica’s 16-bit images), raw formats are also better when it comes to metadata handling.
I’d like to cite Kevin Purcell, who provides some important points on the topic:
Note this is a software release of libjpeg not new definition of the JPEG standard…The JPEG official standard is written by a joint commitee of the ISO and ITU not the people who write libjpeg…
So it’s not there yet. And no guarantees it would.
I personally see this new library as an attempt to solve raw adoption problem providing some of it’s capabilities in a more widespread format. And I don’t accept that approach. We already have raw, what we don’t have — is an ability to work with it on any major platform without prior setup of expensive software. That’s what’s holding it.
I’d like to provide another Kevin’s cite in this context:
…It’s interesting that this solution addresses almost exactly the opposite problem that Adobe’s Lossy DNG set out to address i.e. lossy DNG kept the DCT compression but changed the color encoding (meaning it was much easier to do WB and similar simple “fix up” post-processing without loosing more detail in the image).
Even if that new library finds its place in the new standard, we’ll still have a problem of updating it. In-camera JPEG engines don’t get upgraded. The software we use for processing (raw converters) gets. Especially if it’s a web software, like Pics.io.
Pics.io as an open web-platform for image processing will be the biggest step forward in that domain, IMO. One of the main advantages of web apps is their upgrade speed. It’s instant. If we have a new algorithm of noise reduction, people will have access to it the same day. Improved algorithms can breathe life into old photos, allowing to “save” shots that couldn’t be saved.
Any photography oriented format would fail without adoption from camera makers, i.e. we should work with what we have today.
Building web-platform for raw processing can make it ubiquitous in the whole photography market, not just pro and amateur segments.