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Digital Photos

Digital photos are a lot of fun. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Lossy Images

Nearly all digital cameras take pictures in the JPEG format. It’s a dated format now, but is the acknowledged standard for photos. The problem with JPEG is that it is lossy, which means that when you save a photo (or when your camera takes a photo and stores it as a JPEG) you lose picture quality. You’re not losing the picture itself- imagine you’re losing dots in the photo. Each time the picture is re-saved, it loses more dots. And once they’re gone, they’re gone. Since the camera saves the JPEG, you can’t really avoid this format, but one thing you can do is always set the camera to take high quality images. Most cameras have options about the quality of the photos. Now this will mean that you can take less pictures, but each picture will be better.

That’s True, But…

OK, the above is true. Kind of. In fact, JPEG is just fine to use for your files. But at least keep in mind two things:

  1. Save the original and never change it. Why does this help? If you never change a JPEG and save it- you don’t lose any of the aforementioned dots (pixels). So if you keep that original unchanged somewhere, no problems.
  2. Even if you do edit and resave a JPEG there is a way to avoid losing pixels. When you save a JPEG, your software should ask how much you want to compress it. It does this on a scale of 1-100 where 1 is going to give you the smallest file size (but probably be unrecognizable. The lower the number you choose, the more pixels you’ll lose from the JPEG. But the reverse is true too. If you choose 100, you lose no pixels. So if you always choose 100, you can use JPEG with no downside.