Better JPEG program - minimized JPEG degredation

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 26, 2007.

  1. I was following the discussion and started doing some searching.

    I found this app called Better JPEG that says it does some key
    operations in a method that absolutley minimizes recompression.

    Has anyone heard about this? It seems a smart way to do things,
    but I'm not sure if it is BS or if it is real.

    If you have any experience on this app, please share some
    feedback if you would.

    Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 26, 2007
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  2. With the right software, you can perform cropping and 90-degree step
    rotations on JPEG images /without/ incurring any extra loss due to
    re-compression. E.g. Jpegcrop:

    David J Taylor, Jan 26, 2007
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  3. Paul D. Sullivan

    Mike Fields Guest

    "David J Taylor"
    Irfanview (FREE) also supports "lossless" jpg rotations.

    Mike Fields, Jan 26, 2007
  4. Paul D. Sullivan

    HEMI-Powered Guest

    Today, David J Taylor made these interesting comments ...
    adept cropping and 90 deg rotates can indeed result with no image
    degradation but how does one then save the image without incurring
    at least some loss, unless you've figured out an algorithm for
    altering the compression factor, chroma subsampling, etc. that
    minimizes damage? I've always been taught that as soon as you re-
    save at least some damage is done, but NOT necessarily enough to be
    concerned about or to even see
    HEMI-Powered, Jan 27, 2007
  5. I was impressed by their language on their site in way of
    explanation. They say they optimize it so only the actual pixels
    that have changed are re-saved. It does not process any other
    blocks of pixels. Sounds quite smart.

    I think I'm going to try that program out more in-depth. Red Eye
    Reduction with almost no hit in quality sounds quite good indeed.
    Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 27, 2007
  6. Paul D. Sullivan

    HEMI-Powered Guest

    Today, Paul D. Sullivan made these interesting comments ...
    Can't comment on a specific program which may have been written
    to minimize image damage under certain well-defined situations as
    I haven't tried it/them. I was talking in general terms using my
    knowledge - or lack thereof - of who the JPEG spec was designed
    and how it is implemented in software.

    For me, I try never to re-edit the same image, if I can, I will
    go back to the original unedited camera image which I always
    save. However, both the 80/20 Rule and the Law of Diminishing
    Returns get in the way of that rigid a rule, so I do re-edit my
    own or others images. However, I carefully examine the image to
    see what damage is already there - it may be slight or
    considerable - and usually go to a lower compression rate and/or
    alter chroma sub-sampling to achieve best possible results.

    Depending on the types of damage I may see, such as jaggies,
    posterization, artefacts, noise, etc. etc., I may apply mild-to-
    agresssive corrective action before re-saving. But, one thing I
    ALWAYS do, no matter if it is a first-time save or a multiple
    edit/save/edit/save cycle, is immedately open the just saved (or
    re-saved) image an relook for damage. Sometime I see considerable
    damage even on a 1st time save, for which I alter my technique as
    described above.

    Since I am not a pro nor do I print to large sizes, I can afford
    compromizes that others may find to be unacceptable. Thus, unless
    I am specifically saving proprietary items such as layers vector
    data, I usually don't save to a non-compressed format.

    Just one man's opinion, YMMV ...
    HEMI-Powered, Jan 27, 2007
  7. Good points you make. What with data storage being so cheap
    compared to the old days, I can get 7 meg JPG into 14 meg PSP and
    store 'em in that native Paint Shop Pro format without much
    Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 27, 2007
  8. Paul D. Sullivan

    HEMI-Powered Guest

    Today, Paul D. Sullivan made these interesting comments ...
    Since I seldome use vector data or extensive layering, PSPimage
    isn't that important to me, nor have the many advantages of RAW
    been enough to overcome the steep learning curve.

    For your example of a 7 MB JPEG into an 8MB PSP, that seems
    extreme. What pixel size was used in this comparo? When I do
    that, the ratio is more like 10:1 in favor JPEG.
    HEMI-Powered, Jan 27, 2007
  9. HEMI-Powered wrote:
    In programs such as JPEGcrop, although the image is presented to the
    viewer in an uncompressed form for examination and selection of the
    cropping region (i.e. as 24-bit RGB), internally the 8 x 8, or 16 x 16
    blocks comprising the original JPEG are retained, and the rotation or crop
    are made on these blocks, and /not/ on the RGB data.

    So, for example, crop simply consists of writing out only the blocks you
    need, and altering the file headers to reflect the new number of pixels.
    The content of the blocks - the compressed JPEG data - is not altered, so
    no new compression loss is incurred because there is no recompression.

    Lossless rotation (only at 90 degree angles) is achieved by similar
    mathematical operations on the data in the blocks, but again without any
    decompression and re-compression.

    It's a neat idea which works very well.

    David J Taylor, Jan 27, 2007
  10. Since I seldome use vector data or extensive layering, PSPimage
    I use tons of layers, so it's a very convenient format for me.
    Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 27, 2007
  11. Paul D. Sullivan

    dnharring Guest

    I checked out the free trial for a few months (on multiple computers)
    and finally purchased it last month. Anyone interested in making
    changes while keeping jpg compression to the bare minimum will
    appreciate what Better Jpeg does (it's able to re-save jpeg files but
    only change a few select 8x16 blocks, leaving the other 95% of the
    picture's pixels unchanged, and not recompressing the entire
    picture). It's a good compact program and I hope they keep developing
    it. I've used Jpegcrop for years; this program builds on it and adds
    functionality and versatility.

    I haven't tried the redeye feature yet - mainly I want to quickly be
    able to:
    - Crop to fixed aspect, such as 4x6, before taking the pictures in for
    - And rather than crop at just any old location (i.e. in the middle of
    an 8x16 block, jumbling and shuffling the pixels over and creating jpg
    artifacts such as the halo effect, among other things), it can 'snap-
    to' the nearest 8x16 block boundary for the new top left corner start
    - Add text/watermark with various effects, again with only a small
    block of pixels getting recompressed rather than the entire file.
    - Extend a photo from a 4x3 aspect camera so it fits a 3/2 or 4x6
    aspect, by adding a blank white area on one side. This allows it to
    be printed out properly at 4x6 inches without cutting off anything
    (i.e. so the photo developing service won't automatically cut a strip
    off the top and bottom to force the 3x4 aspect image to fit across a
    4x6 print). It can be automated for doing multiple photos, in batch
    - If you only need to fix a small area of the photo (carpet stain, a
    single pimple, etc), you can select that area (draw a box around it)
    in Better Jpeg, Copy the selection, Paste it into Photoshop, fix it,
    then Paste it back into the picture with Better Jpeg. (Because this
    feature works so well, I went with the stand-alone version rather than
    the Photoshop plug-in when deciding which version to purchase.)
    - Another useful enhancement on the basic Jpegcrop is the Explorer-
    like 2 pane window, this lets you move through directories easily
    rather than having to open and close each file individually. You can
    advance through the folder contents by clicking on the thumbnails in
    the left pane.

    FWIW my routine for nearly a decade is to use Irfanview as a viewer to
    quickly scroll through directories, and for crude editing (resize to
    half size, lighten dark pictures), and for batch renaming and
    resizing. I use Jpegcrop for lossless rotation and cropping, and have
    it in my Irfanview's menu item 'Open with external editor'. Even
    after purchasing Better Jpeg, I still use Guido's Jpegcrop for dealing
    with single images, or whenever going thru the photos with Irfanview.
    I have Photoshop for retouching, but don't use it for simple cropping
    and viewing; the other programs are so much smaller and less 'resource
    hoggish' and probably do a better job anyway.

    I stumbled onto Better Jpeg last year while checking out Jpegcrops, a
    separate good free program that also builds on the basic Jpegcrop
    jpegtran algorithm. If you're not inclined to fork over $25 for
    Better Jpeg, then this is the next best thing.
    There's another free program designed to insert text, and change only
    specific 8x16 blocks without recompressing the entire jpeg.
    (Jdatestamp) I haven't tried it.
    The venerable Exifer can add text/annotation, but it's not 'lossless'
    AFAIK. I use Exifer when I want to add a name or keywords to the Exif
    and IPTC data, or to fix time/date errors.

    On my camera I've been using a wide prime lens (non-zooming), so many/
    most of my pictures can use some cropping! Sorry about any mangled
    terminology, just wanted to report good experience with the

    HTH dh
    dnharring, Jan 27, 2007
  12. Great info! Thanks much.
    Paul D. Sullivan, Jan 28, 2007
  13. Paul D. Sullivan

    mrh1 Guest

    If you speak about EXIF and IPTC data, then I'm quite sure that Exifer
    is lossless. A JPEG consists of different sections, one for the image
    data, one for EXIF, one for IPTC, .... There is absolutely no need to
    alter the image data section in any way if the EXIF or IPTC section
    are changed. In fact it is even easier to implement and faster in
    execution, so I doubt that any meta data tool will recompress the
    image data in that case.
    And I'm completely sure that Mapivi, ExifTool and
    Image::MetaData::JPEG don't change the image data when editing EXIF
    and IPTC.

    In my opinion the whole JPEG quality discussion is a little bit
    overrated. Of course, everybody should be aware that a recompression
    can reduce the quality of a JPEG, but if you consider some simple
    rules nobody will ever notice. I guess that a lot of pictures are
    never printed at all and about 90% of all prints are in the size of
    4x6 inch. So, even if you save a JPEG two or three times with a high
    quality setting there is no real visible difference to the original.

    Here are some rules of thumb:
    - Do as much as possible in a lossless way (rotating, cropping, adding
    meta data, e.g. with Mapivi)
    - Keep the quality level (NOT compression level!) at 95%. This gives a
    reasonable file size, and according to the JPEG developers a higher
    level would just add to the file size not to the quality!
    - Keep the number of recompressions as small as possible
    - Do not overwrite the original file (you may need it later)

    For special tasks and big prints other strategies (RAW, 16bit, TIFF,
    PNG, XCF, ...) may be worth considering, but I guess for most people
    and tasks staying with JPEG and applying the above rules is a very
    good choice.

    I edit some of my pictures in GIMP and add a frame to some of these
    pictures later (using Mapivi).
    So at a maximum I recompress a JPEG two times with quality level 95%.
    I made prints up to 16x24 inch and I'm happy with the quality, but of
    course everybody has different demands.

    Everybody who is uncertain about JPEG quality should try this (it
    takes only five minutes):
    1) Take a JPEG picture from the camera, open it in GIMP or Photoshop
    and save it with 95% under a new file name
    2) Repeat the last step
    3) Compare the original with the new version (as two prints or on the
    monitor; maybe in 100% zoom)
    4) Decide if you can see a difference, and if you can tolerate it

    Just my 2 cents.

    mrh1, Jan 29, 2007
  14. Paul D. Sullivan

    dnharring Guest

    Agreed, Exifer modifies EXIF and IPTC data in a lossless manner. For
    the record, I was focussing on operations that change the image
    itself, in this case by stamping text, date or other annotation onto
    part of the picture. Sorry I wasn't so clear.

    E.g., the sentence immediately preceding this one in my original full
    post - I was saying "There's another free program designed to insert
    text, and change only specific 8x16 blocks without recompressing the
    entire jpeg..."

    You make good points (and I should take a look at the Mapivi software
    you mentioned later) but in my own defense, I certainly didn't "diss"
    Exifer! Under "Image --> Insert Watermark", Exifer can do this, but
    it isn't lossless - when you Save it, the whole photo is changed (not
    just the affected blocks, as with Better Jpeg and Jdatestamp). As to
    whether the cumulative jpeg degradation hurts the image, I dunno.
    dnharring, Jan 30, 2007
  15. Paul D. Sullivan

    mrh1 Guest

    No problem!
    I know, this wasn't my impression either, I wrote my post just to
    clarify for other readers that the "main" functionality of Exifer is
    Sorry, I didn't know about this function.
    You are absolutely right!

    BTW, there is also a free command line tool for lossless JPEG drop
    available (jpegtran with drop patch), see "Lossless crop 'n' drop (cut
    & paste)" on this page:

    With that tool it is possible to add a lossless frame or watermark to
    a picture.
    jpegtran -drop +10+50 watermark.jpg -outfile pic-watermark.jpg pic.jpg

    +10 = x coordinate
    +50 = y coordinate
    watermark.jpg = small watermark picture
    pic.jpg = original picture
    pic-watermark.jpg = new picture with watermark

    I will integrate this feature - at least the lossless framing - in the
    next release of Mapivi.

    mrh1, Jan 30, 2007
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