So what is the scoop on HEIC (High Efficiency Image Container)

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Mark Keefer, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. I am reading mixed info on a new type of photo compression called HEIC (High-Efficiency Image Container) or HEIF (High-Efficiency Image File)

    This is a new type of photo file compressions, like JPEG and GIF, that was developed by MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group) that is being adopted by Apple. So far does not seem like any Windows support and not supported at this time by Lightroom.

    So what I have been reading runs the gamut of high compression and lossy (looking worse than JPEG) on one site to High Compression Lossless on another site.

    I am a PC guy and have not seen this image format yet, but being a photo guy, I am curious to see some side by side comparison and interested to know what people who really know photography think when using it. I don't want to rely on some hype from a site editor who says things like the iPhone camera is a DSLR killer and the editor really knows nothing about photography.

    Can this achieve lossless images with much higher compression (smaller file size)? Or is it just like sliding the JPG quality slider down.

    Anyone have any first-hand experience or thoughts on this new HEIC format. I imagine the Apple folks will be dealing with this first. Is this just something to push off on unknowledgeable consumers with phones so they can squeeze more shots on the phone and send them quicker and IQ be dammed.

    What's the scoop?
  2. As far as I know/understood, Apple started using it on the iOS devices, to save space, with one of the recent updates. On my iPhone, for sure the amount of space occupied by photos went down. But whenever one exports a photo or uploads it to a site/storage service, it is automatically converted to JPG.
    My iPhone uploads photos automatically to Onedrive (MS online data storage), and all files appear there as JPGs. Frankly, I do not see more artifacts or issues with them, quality looks really comparable to before (when files were internally stored as jpgs). So, personally, I do not (yet) see any downsides to the use of this new compression algoritm, especially considering it's only used internally and is completely hidden from the user basically (in the sense that you never really deal with a new image format). I do see one major advantage, as my phone is only a 16GB model.

    Now at the same time, the fact you never really deal with this file format makes it a tad harder to run real comparisons, so I can only go by what I see coming from my phone as JPGs.
  3. Interesting, so you say all you see is a JPG that has been created from the HEIC file. Is there no option to just shoot the photo as jpg without the conversion, then compare a virgin JPG with one that has been converted from HEIC. It sounds like for now, it is mainly an iPhone photo format thing and not something that we will ever be dealing with in the current traditional photography universe (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and Fuji photography universe.) So I take it as we aren't going to start converting our RAW files to HEIC anytime soon if ever. Thanks for your reply.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  4. Mark, as an iPhone user, I know some information about HEIC. It can take up less storage space when compared with JPG. However, it comes with limited compatibility. Only iOS 11 devices and macOS High Sierra have access to it. It is also the reason why you cannot open it on your Windows directly. At present, there are numerous heic to jpg converter for Windows, which is utilized by majority of iPhone users, including me.
    However, if you dislike using it, you can go straight to Apple's local support.
    Following is the complete steps:
    To save photos at a later time as JPG format, you can:
    go for "Settings">"Camera">"Formats" and choose "Most Compatible"
    To change HEIF format to JPG when tranfer to Mac or PC, you can:
    go to "Settings">"Photos">Transfer to Mac or PC and choose "Automatic".

    Note: You can choose "Most Efficient" and "Automatic" at the same time so that you can benefit yourself in both HEIC's powerful storage capatibility ang JPG's broad compatibility.

    Hope this reply is useful for you.
    Mark Keefer and Ed_Ingold like this.

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