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07-12-2009, 10:18 AM   #1
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Archiving = JPEGs or TIFFs, that is the question!

Looking for help at archiving photos

what is the best jpeg file size to save if you have NO intention to further PP the photo?

what is the best TIFF to archive at? 16 bit versus 8 bit? what is the difference?

I will continue to search for info, while waiting for any help; thank you

07-12-2009, 01:45 PM   #2
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IMHO it is always best to save the highest quality archive copy possible. TIFF is a LOSSLESS file format while JPG degrades with each subsequent save operation. My answer would we 16bit TIFF as well as the original raw file. JPG is better used as a presentation format, not as an achival one.

Mike

Last edited by MRRiley; 07-12-2009 at 04:37 PM. Reason: stupid typo
07-12-2009, 04:57 PM   #3
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I completely agree with Mike. I will save the 'Good Jpegs, "Good TIFF's" and RAW's from any project in folders contained in the Project folder. Only saving the Jpegs would be like getting your film back and tossing out the negatives if the prints look ok. A mistake IMO.

Also you're editing skils and the software will improve over time. A shot you thought was so-so now might be re-edited in a new way 15 years from now and be greatly improved.

As for 8 vs 16 bit, it has more to how well you shoot and expose the shot. Shooting RAW greatly improves your exposure latitude adjustment headroom. An 8-bit image uses 8-bits to describe each color in an RGB pixel. That gives it 256 possible values for each of R, G and B. That makes 256*256*256 = 16,777,216 possible colors (all possible combinations).

A 16-bit image uses 16-bits to describe each color in an RGB pixel. That gives it 65,536 possible values for each of R, G and B. That makes 65,536*65,536*65,536 = 281,474,976,710,656 possible colors. I don't know if Photoshop actually lets the image use all 16-bits, but the idea is that you get a lot more colors.

Of course, most output devices (screens and printers) deal with 8-bit images so even a 16-bit image has to get "dumbed down" to 8-bits for many types of output media.

There is a lot of debate around how much benefit 16-bits gives you over 8-bits. If you were taking a regular picture and it was properly exposed and you were doing minor editing to it, it is unlikely you could see a difference in the final result if you worked in 8-bits vs. 16-bits.

On the other hand, if your image was poorly exposed (thus needed major correction) or you were doing major editing on it, then having the extra colors in your image to start with and the extra working room for editing can make a meaningful difference during your editing. This is one of the reasons that one can recover an improperly exposed image when it's shot in RAW (which is typically 12-bits of actual information, sometimes 14-bits) much better than one can when it's shot in JPEG (which is always only 8-bits).
07-12-2009, 05:21 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by rdrum76 Quote
Looking for help at archiving photos

what is the best jpeg file size to save if you have NO intention to further PP the photo?

what is the best TIFF to archive at? 16 bit versus 8 bit? what is the difference?

I will continue to search for info, while waiting for any help; thank you
I can't see any reason why you should archive tiffs. If you shoot into jpegs, tiffs won't add any quality anyway. In case you shoot raw, archive raw + post processed jpeg in maximal quality.

07-12-2009, 05:39 PM   #5
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Edvinas, I agree on the technical side, all you need is the RAW file. It's just my workflow habit to create a project folder that contains the 3 folders, RAW, TIFF and Jpeg. The Raw of course is the digital negative and remains unchanged. The raw is loaded to either Photoshop or Lightroom for editing. Then saved as a finished TIFF which the jpeg is taken from.

My thinking is if you just spent 30 minutes edit a shot and removing power lines or whatever, then saving it straight to Jpeg, you've basically tossed all that work out. Maybe you want to go back and convert the shot to B&W or do something else. I'd much rather go back to the TIFF for further adjustments than have to re-edit from the beginning with the RAW. Memory is so cheap now that tossing the file makes no sense to me. As Mike said the Jpeg is a lossy file and I will never edit one that is going to be printed. Where a TIFF stores the RGB data as 3 seperate 16 bit colours for each pixel, a Jpeg blends those colours to give the pixel 1 8 bit colour value. As a result even a slight crop to a Jpeg can result in Moire and dithering artifacts.

That being said I have a stack of 1 Tb hard drives on my desk and don't think twice about disk space.
08-21-2009, 08:50 PM   #6
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I completely agree with Mike and Peter.

RAW and TIFF for archiving. I hate "lossy" compression, and with the cheap memory available today there's absolutely no need for it. If I scan slides, once again it's TIFF that I save the scanned images in, NOT JPEG. I use JPEG copies for things like desktops for my computer (for which the big file size of a TIFF might create problems), but that's about it.
08-22-2009, 12:55 AM   #7
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No arguments here.
Just shoot RAW to archive those you know you'll come back to later.
With memory storage limitations, high quality JPEGs are fine for those you just want to keep for your own records. Otherwise, there's nothing like keeping RAW files for versatility and reasonably compact size.
08-22-2009, 07:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
....................My thinking is if you just spent 30 minutes edit a shot and removing power lines or whatever, then saving it straight to Jpeg, you've basically tossed all that work out. Maybe you want to go back and convert the shot to B&W or do something else. I'd much rather go back to the TIFF for further adjustments than have to re-edit from the beginning with the RAW. ..................
I take it one step further. For shots that require intensive editing, I save the .psd file. It makes it even easier to make changes later.

08-22-2009, 08:12 AM   #9
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PSDs are great - very versatile file formats, but take up LOTS of space.

If you've done all the editing you're going to do on a JPEG, and need no further adjustments to it, you're probably better off just saving it as a high quality JPEG.
08-22-2009, 08:59 AM   #10
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Your safest bet for long term image storage is the bitmap (bmp). I don't know if that format supports 16 bit, but it doesn't really matter.
Any file that needs decoding is prone to failure. You lose one jpeg marker due to file degradation and you've lost the file.
I really don't think there is such a thing as digital file archiving. The term itself implies something that digital storage is incapable of, that being long term reliable data retrieval.
Digital file storage is a constant war against medium degradation, and constant recopying of the file from one media to another. If you only hae your data on one media, you don't have safe storage.
I've had high end CDs written with a high end writer fail after 5 years. DVDs may be better, but with the number of eggs you are putting into the basket with a 4gb medium, you probably want to be recopying every couple of years, and either way, you want to be using a file format that isn't going to break due to copy errors.
Multiple redundant hard drives are (in my opinion) the most cost effective and safest way to store large amounts of data. Don't wait for a drive to fail though, change them out every couple of years. Even a hard drive on the shelf can fail if the lubricants in the bearings dry out or if something corrodes a little bit in the driver board or platter.
08-22-2009, 11:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Your safest bet for long term image storage is the bitmap (bmp). I don't know if that format supports 16 bit, but it doesn't really matter.
Any file that needs decoding is prone to failure. You lose one jpeg marker due to file degradation and you've lost the file.
I really don't think there is such a thing as digital file archiving. The term itself implies something that digital storage is incapable of, that being long term reliable data retrieval.
Digital file storage is a constant war against medium degradation, and constant recopying of the file from one media to another. If you only hae your data on one media, you don't have safe storage.
I've had high end CDs written with a high end writer fail after 5 years. DVDs may be better, but with the number of eggs you are putting into the basket with a 4gb medium, you probably want to be recopying every couple of years, and either way, you want to be using a file format that isn't going to break due to copy errors.
Multiple redundant hard drives are (in my opinion) the most cost effective and safest way to store large amounts of data. Don't wait for a drive to fail though, change them out every couple of years. Even a hard drive on the shelf can fail if the lubricants in the bearings dry out or if something corrodes a little bit in the driver board or platter.
I'll have to think about what Wheafield said - yipes.

I've only been doing photography seriously for 2 years, but have learned this:

1. i started out with jpegs and consider that a shame. things i learned to do better with pp, i now can't go back and work the jpeg as much. they are not as "flexible" as RAW.

2. The new externally powered hard drives seem to be very delicate. Because i travel a lot, i had at times carried one with my laptop, but one time one of these hard drives dropped from a short coffee table onto a well padded carpet. thats all it took - Dead on arrival. The smaller USB 2.0 powered compact drives built more for laptop usages seem much more durable. I've been told they run from 4.5 volt power from the port itself so don't need a separate transformer. These are much easier to carry and when i've jostled one of those around, they continue to run. The con is that they are slower, i believe.

If you are at all serious about photography, go with RAW and make backups. I have to think more about Wheatfield's comments :-)
08-22-2009, 12:13 PM   #12
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The RAW image is the only one you really need to archive but you can save the TIFF as well. The hardest bit bit about archiving is finding a decent system that works. Mine has cost my a small fortune.
08-24-2009, 09:24 AM   #13
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Assuming you shoot RAW, it will be far smaller than any TIFF you'd generate from it, and far better than as well and/or as not much bigger than any JPEG you'd generate from it. I uess the real question is, why are you generating the conversion at all; that might help answer the question better.
08-24-2009, 09:40 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dom Quote
The RAW image is the only one you really need to archive but you can save the TIFF as well. The hardest bit bit about archiving is finding a decent system that works. Mine has cost my a small fortune.
I'm not so sure. If I take a camera raw file and do significant retouching on it, if I don't archive it for future consideration, I've pretty much pissed all the time I spent on post out the window.

If I can make a comparison to film, the raw file is an undeveloped negative, the tiff/psd/etc file is the developed negative.

Digital photography allows us to have our cake and to eat it too, in that we can save our "undeveloped negatives" and "redevelop" them over and over again.
At the same time, it strikes me as somewhat shortsighted to toss a "developed negative" just because I still have access to one that isn't developed.
08-24-2009, 01:07 PM   #15
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I save the PEF file on my little RAID server, but keep the JPEG in my computer.

On the other hand, I recently tried 8 bit TIFF, 16 bit TIFF and highest quality (level 12 in PS) JPEGS for scanned slides. Honestly, I wanted to see a difference, but the difference was very negligible. The difference in size was huge 101meg for 16 bit TIFF vs. 5-15 meg for highest quality JPEG.
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