JPEG for archiving (high-res from scanner) ?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by og, Jun 20, 2003.

  1. og


    I have decided to scan systematically my 35mm color negatives. I know
    that Tiff (16bits-uncompressed) is the best way to archive for quality
    and safety, however I am considering using Jpeg in order to save disc
    space (and not ending up with 100s of CDs...).

    I will use the scanner at 2700dpi+16bits+ICE, save first in
    Tiff-16bits, make tonal adjustments, convert to 8bits and then save in
    Jpeg (Q=85, about 10% in size) for archiving on my hard-drive and CD
    backup (about 300 pictures per CD).

    My pictures are not sharp (cheap glass, hand-held...), and my main
    goal is 'only' to print some of them on A4 (8'x10') for personnal use.

    Does it make sense, or am I missing something ? Do some of you use
    JPEG for archiviving purpose, and what do you think of it ?
  2. Jpeg is lossy compression, so you can't save and re-save Jpeg's without losing *something.* The question becomes where does that loss become noticeable. With the price of storage and the hassles of re-scanning, etc., I don't consider Jpeg acceptable for archiving any images that I'm serious about. For saving snapshots and such, it could be fine.

    You say your "main goal is 'only' to print ... on A4." If your goals ever change, those jpegs could start to be trouble...
  3. however I am considering using Jpeg in order to save disc space (and not ending up with 100s of CDs...)
    In my opinion, that would be a "penny wise & pound foolish" type of mistake.
  4. You've come up against the Achilles's heel of anything digital: storage. It takes more effort and storage than people initially think. In your case, since you have the negatives anyway, and presumably, you will be storing them somehow, you could always scan them again if you had to. Since you say the photos are not that sharp to begin with, do you really need to scan them so they could theoretically be digital printed as big as 8x10? It seems a shame to go through the trouble of scanning your negatives at 2700dpi and then discard a lot of the information by only saving them as jpegs. The tiff or psd file is like your digital original. Personally, I think it would be better to work on the physical aspect of storing and archiving the files, rather than reducing your "originals" to lesser copies. But, it all depends on what you want to do with them in the future. If you're absolutely positive you will save them and never work on them again, then jpeg might be fine for you (again, taking into consideration that you will keep the actual negative too).
  5. If you are preping your files for printing and then using a high quality jpeg setting (low compression), then you will be fine for what you are doing. JPEG only becomes a problem when you open, change and resave a file multiple times and/or use high compression. I do what you're suggesting and the files are around 2.5 - 3.5 meg. Works fine.
  6. I can't comment on whether what you are doing makes sense, but please try to understand exactly what Jpeg does (and doesn't do) before you decide.
    There is much mis-information on the subject, so I wrote a lengthy article on Jpeg Compression
  7. Jpegs are a bit useless unless you're not planning to do any kind of manipulation, ever (for reasons mentioned already). Which is one of the big things scanning negatives is about.

    If you want to cut down on the number of CD's to burn, I suggest you pick and choose the images you want to archive rather than doing all of them in a lesser form. Plus, you'll still have the negatives if you need one you haven't scanned.
  8. I almost completely disagree with the statement above:

    "If you want to cut down on the number of CD's to burn, I suggest you pick and choose the images you want to archive rather than doing all of them in a lesser form. Plus, you'll still have the negatives if you need one you haven't scanned."

    Olivier will do his editing BEFORE saving as a jpeg. Have you actually printed 10:1 compressed jpegs at 8x10? 10:1 compression is really very good. No way would I not scan some of the images just to get the tiny incremental difference that TIFF would provide.

    I would suggest exactly the OPPOSITE tactic, if storage space is a concern. Scan them all, do you Photoshop work, then save as jpeg. If you ever actually need better than that (and it won't be much better), you have the neg & can rescan THEN.

    Still doubtful? Pick several representative images & try it. Print the TIFF & the JPEG. Put them side by side & you'll be able to decide for yourself, rather than listening to any of us. The experiment won't cost much (8x10 at my Costco on Fuji Archive is $1.99) and won't take nearly as much time as you're investing in all the scans your doing.
  9. With the price of big hard drives coming down so fast (100 gigs for $100), there really isn't a good reason to skimp on storage space. Forget CD-Rs - too small. By the time you fill up one big drive, a new one will be even cheaper and bigger.

    Vuescan will save both a jpeg and a tiff from the same scan. Buy a big external hard drive just for saving tiffs. Save the jpegs to your internal drive (or wherever) and use them with a photo catalogging program. You don't want to catalog the tiffs - takes too long to load and view. Have a mirror in jpegs of the tiff scans.

    I also recommend getting a DVD recorder to use in backing up everything. Hard drives eventually fail. An external firewire recorder costs $300, the blank media less than $1. Retrospect is good backup software.
  10. jbq


    I'd say it's OK to use JPEG as an archival format, if you follow a few rules:

    -try to use photoshop (or photoshop elements) to compress your JPEGs at quality 10 (I like they photoshop JPEGs better than the ones produced by the reference implementation).

    -try to only downsample from 16-bit to 8-bit once in your whole processing flow. It's OK to scan at 16-bit, do some corrections, save as 8-bit, re-load as 16-bit, do some more corrections and print. Even more important, never compress the same image twice. Once you have compressed then decompressed a JPEG once, only ever work with it as a TIFF.

    My 2 cents.
  11. In my experience, Jpeg is not the calamity that others write about. I have archived in jpeg about 6000 images at 4000dpi after doing some careful comparisons with tiff. When saved at maximum quality, I couldn't see a difference with tiff. I would however discourage using Q=85. Although this was not my initial intention, I ended up having to make a few 12x18 prints out of the jpeg files (because the originals were at a magazine). Those prints look as good to my eye as any 12x18 from 35mm can be. Note that since I have a 4000dpi scan, I end up resizing down the jpeg (into a tiff), which would get rid of any jpeg artifacts. 200dpi is sufficient for the Lightjet. However, in general I prefer to rescan the images at the max settings if I need to make a print, just to be sure that I have the highest quality file, even though I suspect that for most images it does not make any difference. I do not make that many prints, so the trade-off is reasonable.
    I save the raw scan in JPEG, not the color corrected file. Since I use a scanner with feeder, my time investment in creating the archive is minimal, however, if I was to archive the master files (color corrected scans), I would probably save in Tiff 8bit, LZW. In fact, for consistency reasons, I am switching my workflow to archive the master file, and so in the future, will be saving in Tiff.
    The main problem with saving in Tiff is having to handle tons of CDs. Back then, a DVD disk was $5, but now that they can be had for $2, this option is looking more attractive. Tuan Terra Galleria Stock Photography
  12. og


    I want to use the computer to review all my pictures. I will choose the interesting ones (about 10%) and work on them (some will be printed in A4/uploaded to PN).

    So, it is true that my issue is not so much about archiving pictures in digital, but rather about finding the good workflow in this situation:

    A - I scan everything once, in the proper resolution, bit-depth and file format in order to meet my higher needs without going back to the original too often. For me, 2700dpi and Jpeg should be OK (10000 Pics = 40 CDs in JPEG vs 750 CDs in Tiff-16 bits). For the selected pictures, I will do more editing from this Jpeg file (including luminosity, contrast, sharpening, color...), working with a non-lossy file format in order to avoid series of lossy compressions.

    B - I scan everything in 1350dpi and Jpeg for review. I make my selection and re-scan about 10% of them in 2700dpi Tiff-16bits for good quality work (about 80 CDs).

    In A: 1 scan per picture / BUT / scanning time is longer, edition is medium quality due to the jpeg compression.

    In B: good quality edition, scanning time is shorter / BUT / 10% of the pictures will need an additional long scan.

    I found 'A' more interesting first (one single workflow for everything), but from your comments I tend to see more advantages to 'B': I can adapt the high quality scan after selection and work the very way I want. I think I'll go for Tiff for quality edition, then...

    Thank you for your comments. I found it particularly interesting to see that some of you do consider that you can use Jpeg for Archival purpose (with some limitations).
    And Gordon: Your article is really interesting, with very good sources as well. Thanks.
  13. Whichever way you choose to go, I repeat: DO A SMALL SAMPLE FIRST, THEN DECIDE.
    10,000 scans is a lot! No matter how much you think about it, you never really know what it's like until you do it.

    Do 0.5% (that's 50 scans) both ways, multiply the effort by 200, and see what you think. Take a couple of the scans and have an 8x10 made of the jpeg & the tiff version and see what you think. Then you'll know what's the right decision for you.

    I can't help but correct your statements, though:
    "In A...edition is medium quality" and "In B: good quality edition". That should read:
    "In A...edition is very good quality (for 8x10)" and "In B: only good enough quality for 4x6 (except for the 10% you rescan at 2700 dpi)".

    Been there, done that. HAVE FUN!

    (This is why I haven't shot a single frame of film since getting a digital camera over a year and a half ago. Why add to my backlog of scans that may NEVER get done?)
  14. I have scanned about 4,000 family photos (about 2/3 from negs) for my archive and have found a compromise that works for me. Most of the photos - especially the old snap-shots, are not of good enough quality to worry about large prints or further manipulation anyway. These I clean up as best I can save as JPEGs at the lowest compression setting. Things I may want larger prints of at a later date (35mm and medium format film from my cameras), I save as PNG (Portable Network Graphics). There are a couple of very good technical articles on the web concerning this file type. It has a fairly efficient, non-lossy compression methodology. The files are certainly not as compact as JPEGs, but are smaller than their TIFF cousins. With a 120GB hard drive (cheap) and the old 20GB for backup copies, there's no space problem at all. I couple of times a year, I burn everything onto less than 5 CDs.

    Hope this doesn't further confuse the issue.

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