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JPEG Baseline ("Standard") vs. Baseline Optimized

Vadim Makarov , Sep 11, 2000; 12:12 a.m.

Photoshop 5.0 offers to save JPEG with one of three format options:

  • Baseline ("Standard")
  • Baseline Optimized
  • Progressive
Its help indicates that there might be compatibility problems with the second and third options. Of course, I would always save JPEG files for my site with the first option (Baseline "Standard").

However, that darn Photoshop resets the default option to the one used in the last JPEG opened in it. Yes, it is enough to just open somebody's file to change your Photoshop default. I have a habit of downloading JPEGs posted on the forum. I've just discovered that somebody's image left that option to Baseline Optimized and I overlooked it doing processing of my images. Now a bunch of JPEGs on my site is encoded that way.

Do you ever know of a browser or image editor that will not be able to open Baseline Optimized JPEG?

If there is one, I will re-process all my files, but this is time-consuming and I want first to make sure the problem is real.

Responses


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J Greely , Sep 11, 2000; 08:09 a.m.

I haven't seen anything fail to handle Baseline Optimized; all the images on my site are saved that way, and despite 150,000+ hits a day, I've never had a single complaint about viewing or editing the images (most of my complaints are about the lack of frequent updates...).

Progressive just plain sucks, of course.

Note that with Photoshop 5.5 or 6.0, you get better JPEG handling options, including the ability to use ImageReady for batch conversions (much better than the product I used to use, Ulead's WebRazor Pro).

j d c , Sep 11, 2000; 08:10 a.m.

Vadim, I have installed, on various machines here at work, Netscape 4.05, 4.08, 4.51, 4.62, 4.7, 4.72, 4.74, Explorer 4.0 sp1, sp2, and 5.0 all running Windows 98 or NT. I also have Explore 4.5 and Netscape 4.something for the Mac and Netscape 4.73 for Solaris. If you would share your URL I'll take a look at your site when I've got a minute.

Older versions of Netscape and Explorer (any Netscape prior to 4.08 I'm not sure which 4.0 version of explorer) have expired certificates and are generally not used.

AOL has a default setting that compresses graphics this causes problems with all jpg files and therefore is unavoidable. Meanwhile, supposedly only 15% of AOL users venture outside of AOL. I think it can be assumed (or at least we do where I work) that a high percentage of these AOL users that venture out into the wilds of the WWW would have the 'savvy' to adjust this setting.

Including AOL around 80% of all browsers are IE 4.x or higher and 90+ are IE/NN 4.x or higher. I think you have nothing to worry about.

What I think Photoshop is referring to is incompatability with other software.

Nicholas Barry , Sep 11, 2000; 10:43 a.m.

Yes, I do know of a viewer that hates Optimized and Progressive:

xv

I use Solaris at work and Linux at home. I hate using Netscape as my JPEG viewer since I can't do any manipulations/color space changes and The Gimp is just too bulky for image viewing. Using xv is the best alternative until you try to open an 'Optimized' JPEG - then you get illegal SOF Marker errors and xv fails. I know I'm in the minority, but it's still annoying. :)

And to agree with a previous poster: Progressive does just plain suck.

Scott Eaton , Sep 11, 2000; 12:15 p.m.

Vadim, the 3rd option, "Progessive" is to be avoided. While most later browsers can handle progressive encoded files, many software packages cannot. If you have to use progressive encoding to actually see results chances are you're compressing too much anyways.

Like the views expressed above, I could care-less what AOL viewers can/can't see.

Nic Benton , Sep 11, 2000; 12:56 p.m.

We use xv on linux and have no problems. We write software to use JPEG and always use Baseline Optimized and have never encountered a problem. Progressive JPEG has it's uses (but I can't think of one just at the moment) but in any case none of the options have any impact on the quality. Optimised, merely optimises the tables used internally and improves the ammount (size) of compression rather than quality. The quality and size of the final result will depend on the software displaying the image and whether it is being asked to adjust the image to fit the display. This itself is likely to cause abberation.

The images at

http://www.picturephilia.com/pg/quality?pf

may be of interest.

They are all Optimised from a 2 GByte original

HQ is compressed to 214 MB

MQ to 101 MB

LQ to 55 MB

If anyone has problems viewing, please let me know. They should not take more than 7 seconds to view.

Bill Tuthill , Sep 11, 2000; 01:13 p.m.

Newer versions of xv that include more recent JPEG libraries can read progressive encoding. Actually xv is one of my favorite programs, and much better for browsing images than GIMP, Photoshop, or any of the low-cost stuff I've tried on Windows. Sorry that I've been posting progressive JPEGs lately (the default in PaintShopPro); I'll stop.

Vadim, why don't you browse JPEGs with something lightweight like Irfanview or Vueprint? Photoshop takes forever to start up.

Steve Dunn , Sep 11, 2000; 02:40 p.m.

Well, I'll have to go against the flow and say I like progressive JPEGs. If I'm hitting a slow site, or if I'm on a slow connection (remember, there are still an awful lot of modems out there - ADSL and cable modems are far from being universal), I like to be able to see a low-res version of the whole picture fairly early on, so that if I decide I don't want it, I don't have to wait for the majority of the file to download before stopping. And on a high-speed link, it really doesn't matter whether it's progressive or not - it shows up quickly either way.

I have a really old version of LView at home that barfs on many JPEGs. I don't know what format they're in but perhaps they're baseline optimized (I know this version supports progressive) ...

Bottom line, I guess, is that you have to figure out who your target is. If your target is that you want 100% of viewers to be able to use your files, you have to use the lowest-common-denominator. If you're happy with 90 or 95%, chances are you can use more modern features. This applies not only to JPEGs but also to some HTML elements that older browsers may not handle.

Ben Jackson , Sep 11, 2000; 07:56 p.m.

Optimized JEPGs are not in a different format than "standard" JPEGs and any decoder should be able to read them fine. The space savings are usually pretty minor, but the files almost never get bigger and the extra CPU cost is negligible these days.

Progressive JPEGs are in a different format and some decoders will get confused. Interestingly they are often smaller than a non-progressive version of the same image. You can optimize/progressivize a JPG without re-encoding it to see what happens (with jpegtran).

The most useful tool for making small, good-looking JPEGs is an interactive encoder which will show you in real time how your image will look after an encoding/decoding cycle with your chosen parameters, so you can trade off space and quality easily. I think JPEG Wizard will do this for photoshop, and in recent versions of GIMP the regular save-as-jpg plugin does this as well.

Joe Perrigoue , Sep 12, 2000; 01:42 p.m.

Yes. I am unable to see your images with my browser. I use Lynx. Could this be a personal problem? ;->


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