Tag Archives: image

What’s the difference between JPEG, TIFF & RAW?

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

The type of file format you choose will greatly influence the quality of your final images. In short, it compresses an image, settings such as the colour balance, contrast and sharpening. This leads to some details being lost however these are not noticeable by the human eye.

On many digital cameras you will have an option to fine tune the settings of JPEG files in to ‘Basic, Normal & Fine’ If you are going to printing your image to a large format in post-production then aim for a JPEG Fine setting as this will higher quality images which are less compressed.

RAW

By shooting in RAW you capture all the information from received by the camera. Essentially it is the digital equivalent of the film negative. If you take an image in this format you will need access to software which will allow you to edit the image e.g. Photoshop to create your final image.

As RAW files are not compressed by the camera they take up considerably more space on your memory card. It would be highly recommended for you to invest in a fast reading memory card which will allow quick reading times when taking photos.

Most digital cameras now have an option where RAW & JPEG files are taken at the same time. So, if you are looking to share as well as develop you can consider this option, although it will take up even more space!

TIFF (Tag Image File Format)

Generally, TIFF files are the middle ground between JPEG & RAW. TIFF is a standard format used in the printing and publishing industry. Being significantly larger than JPEGs they lose no detail but store less information than the RAW format.

Overall

raw-or-jpeg

RAW images carry the greatest amount of information that can be manipulated at a later date. Use this format if you are going to be editing with Photoshop etc afterwards.

For general use however, JPEG is a perfectly useful format to use with detail being lost which will not be recognisable by the human eye. If you are wanting to print on a large format then you can always switch up to JPEG Fine mode.

Why megapixels on your camera don’t matter.

What are megapixels?

pixelated

Today it would be challenging to find someone or a company who doesn’t put megapixels as a key selling point for their product. Too often however this is a confusing and inaccurate way to measure the real quality of the camera and its ability to take high quality images. Why? Well let’s try to understand this in a simple way.

A megapixel is 1 million pixels. These are tiny squares that when put together create your image. The resolution of your image therefore will be determined by how many of these tiny squares are packed together in a small area.

Therefore a 41Mp camera will have around 41 million tiny squares of information per inch such as the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Surely that is a good thing? That’s more an a Nikon D800!

megapixels-160rg02

Yes and no. This purely depends on whether you are using a smart phone or a DSLR. For purposes here we will discuss Smart Phones vs DSLR.

Yes because the information there more complete an image you will generate. You may have had a 1.2Mp camera in the past and when you zoomed in to you it would become pixelated quickly

No because having too many megapixels can negatively impact the overall image quality.  Most smart phones carry small sensors this therefore means that the pixels themselves will have to be even smaller and consequently you have overcrowding. It’s similar to packing in 1000 people in to a room designed for 100. Whilst you might be able to do this it will ultimately lead to severe overcrowding and much higher levels of noise thus reducing the quality of the image. You will not face this challenge with a DSLR. With a larger sensor you allow a greater area for the light to fall on and as a result you take a much more accurate image- even if the megapixel count might be lower. Unless you’re planning on printing your images in magazines, billboards or for television it is really will not matter if you use a compact or smart phone between 8MP and 100MP.

The other issue with a large number of megapixels is that if you choose to share your photo online e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or perhaps even to create photobook your image will be automatically downsized. Also, the software/upload process will randomly remove pixels without understanding what key elements are important in the picture.

The question is: ‘How often do you go through your photos?’ Do you really need to get more storage and take more photos which most likely you will not take the time to filter through? The other downside is that your file sizes will be signficantly larger which will in increase upload time online too!

How much do I really need?

Mp chart

This depends on what you are taking images for and how you will use them. This falls in to two main categories: 1. Print 2. Digital/Online

1. Print

If you are going to print your images you will need to aim for higher resolutions. To work out how many pixels you will need for an image

4×6 = 2.2Mp

5×7= 3.2 Mp

8×10= 7.2Mp

12×14= 15.1Mp

16×20= 28.8Mp

2. Digital

Twitter

Cover photos: 520 x 260 pixels = 0.14Mp

Sharing photos: 375 x 375 pixels= 0.14Mp

Facebook:

Cover photo: 851 x315 = 0.27Mp

Timeline photo: 960 x 720 = 0.69Mp

Large image: 2,048 x 2,048= 4.19Mp

Instagram

Maximum 612 x612Mp = 0.37Mp

So as you can gather from the information above you don’t need a camera with 8Mp or more to print or share digital images. The key thing to focus on will be the size of your camera sensor.

Why does the sensor matter so much?

 

A ‘Full frame’ sensor (36x24mm) is the same size as a 35mm film negative. Currently you will only find this on pro-level DSLR cameras and with time it is likely this will change. In comparison a iPhone 6 has a camera sensor 1.5 inches (18.7x14mm).

sensor-size-summary

Camera Sensor comparison chart

What should I look for in a camera?

When you go to buy a new phone or a camera next time as the sales assistant how large the sensor on the camera is. Remember the larger the sensor the more light and therefore the higher the quality of your image will be. Furthermore, look for high ISO settings, this will allow you to take images in low light conditions and reduce any grain on it. Lastly, look at the quality of the lens. For a camera phone look for an aperture of f2.2 or lower if possible. What does this mean? It means that you will be able to take images with stability and quality in low light conditions. For anyone using a DSLR use prime lenses and aim for f1.4 or lower if possible.

iphone aperture

So, the key thing to remember is; Where will I use these photos? This will help you to narrow down what camera to buy and ultimately save you in the long run!

 

Look out for our next blog post: The breakdown of your digital camera- what all the buttons mean! 

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