Pretty much everyone reading this is all too familiar with JPEG’s and the creation of large, small, printable, social media sized, etc images for clients. If you’re like me and tend to shoot a fair number of weddings and events with LARGE, (sometimes obscenely so), catalogs of images, the delivery of these files to your clients can often be an absolute nightmare. Sharing online takes forever to upload and download….sometimes they want them on a Hard Drive or Thumb Drives and you just can’t fit everything. Compile that with YOUR personal backups and archiving solutions…well….the storage space requirements can get out of hand incredibly fast.
This is where I have to introduce you too JPEGMini created by the team at BEAMR. Introduced back in 2011 (I wish i knew about it then!!), as a standalone app or plugin / extension for Lightroom and Photoshop. JPEGMini’s sole purpose in life is to reduce the size of large JPEG image files while retaining, all of the quality. I say nearly, but from my weeks of VERY extensive testing, i’ve not been able to visibly see any difference between my 100% quality exported images and the JPEGMini optimized ones!
The app costs range depending on which of the 3 options you opt to run. $199/month for the enterprise/server environment (For e-commerce, photo repositories, and photo intensive websites), $99 for the PRO version (for Semi-professional & Professional photographers and creative agencies), and just $19.99 for the standard edition (for casual & amateur photographers). These also have Trial editions which I highly recommend you all at least give a whirl! The main difference between the Pro and the Basic versions is the max file sizes the tools can accommodate. The pro edition can support up to 60MP files with up to 8x faster processing than the basic edition. This is HUUUUUUUGE when you’re working with large batches, and if you’re a wedding or event photographer, it’s worth every penny…but i’m getting ahead of myself here. Lets keep going.
Setup and Installation
You can download the app directly from their website www.jpegmini.com where you have the options of running it as a standalone app, or as a plugin/extension for Photoshop and Lightroom. Using just one or any combination of the 3 is all up to you. Installing the stand alone app is pretty straight forward and you just have to follow the installation procedure for your operating system (Windows or Mac). To open, simply click/double click the JPEGMini Icon in your applications folder or toolbar and begin. When running as an extension for photoshop, you can access it (after installation) by clicking WINDOW > Extensions > JPEG Mini
For Lightroom, you’ll have to install the plugin following Adobe’s and JPEGMini’s instructions provided. To activate in the system, open your Lightroom Plug-in Manager and add it there;
Then, when you export your images, you can insert jpegmini into the post-processing phase
And that’s it! The great part of this is everything is automatic! A lot of people will get upset over this perceived “lack of control” but personally, I see it as an insane time saver. Even when running the app as a standalone, the controls and settings are simple to avoid any confusion.
You can customize some of the settings / options by accessing the button on the bottom left of the interface. This will present you with the option to “Optimize Originals” where your large / unoptimized files will be replaced on your Hard Drive. By default the box to warn you on overwrite is checked but you can switch this off if you choose too. Your next choice is Export to Folder, where if selected, you can have the resized images moved to a predetermined location. This is useful especially if you want to keep your original files and have a little extra control over the output. Choosing this will NOT overwrite your original JPEGs first and foremost, and it will also present you with a dropdown / check box allowing you to choose the target resolution of your optimized images; Small (960×720), Medium (1600×1200), and Large (2592×1944). You can also use the Max Width/Height options to keep the original dimensions & pixel count of your image(s)
Once you’re happy with your setting choices, press apply and you’ll be brought back to the original application window. From here you can start drag and dropping images, or entire folders and hard drives in to be optimized!
As of the creation of this article, I’ve managed to save over 540 gigs of space on my image hard drives…..FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY GIGABYTES!!!! That’s insane! (time-lapsers rejoice!!!)
A Little Background
The Jpeg (JPG) is a compressed image file format that has been around since the 90’s as the standard for image use on the Internet, email, and digital image display. As most of you in this photo world know, there are tons of ways to alter the size and quality of a jpg, (via Photoshop, Lightroom, 3rd party plugins, and even in preview apps on your operating system), but more often than not this results in a visible reduction in image quality. Scaling will insert pixelation and detail loss that well…is pretty easy to see when you start zooming in on an image. This is where JPEGMini excels. As per a quote from their engineering team;
‘JPEGmini works with standard JPEGs. The input is a standard JPEG and the output is a standard JPEG. We recompress that standard JPEG photo by up to 80%, and the resolution remains the same and the perceptual quality of the image remains the same. When we talk about ‘perceptual image quality’ we mean that if you took this photo and viewed it on your screen at Actual Pixels, or 100% magnification, and compared it to the original you wouldn’t be able to determine which was the original and which one was the optimized. That’s what we call ‘perceptually identical’ to the original.’
Further proof of this fact can be seen in a Youtube test done at a print lab by Paul McPherson (Shutterfreek)
Here i’ve included a gallery of some of my work. The originals side by side with the “optimized” images from JPEGMini. Have a look and let me know if you can see any difference?
Here’s a screenshot of the images in a folder on my desktop displaying the actual file sizes showing about a 4.5x reduction thanks to JPEGMini;
Performance & Conclusion
‘The main value of JPEGmini is that it optimizes photos automatically, and can process all of your photos with no human intervention required. There is no quality control in JPEGmini, because we only know to produce one quality level: The same quality of the original image. We don’t reduce the quality, and we don’t improve the quality. We leave the quality unchanged, and reduce the file size as much as we can. That’s all there is to it.
We developed a computerized quality measurement algorithm that imitates human vision, and can tell us whether an original photo and a compressed photo look the same to the user or not. So our software tries various compression levels on your photo, and for each one checks our quality measure to see whether quality was preserved, until we find the “optimal” compression setting for that photo. And of course, we do this automatically (and very fast!) for each and every one of your photos. That’s in a nutshell how JPEGmini works, and why you can trust it to automatically optimize all your photos without having to look at them.’
It’s a simple program that has an incredible benefit to performance, space, and output when sending files to a client or vendor…especially when internet speeds or space are of importance. The optimization is quick and consistent even when processing TERABYTES worth of folders. As seen above in the Youtube video, the printed images appear to be exactly the same despite the reduction in file size. The images retain all of your original meta data, (ie copyright and camera info)…really, I just can’t personally find any negatives to say about this application! the $99 pro version is DEFINITELY worth the price in hard drive space savings alone! The only thing that could possibly make it better is to find a way for it to work it’s magic on our ever growing RAW files also haha.
I’ve even gone as far as to replace EVERY image on my website with JPEGMini optimized ones and thanks to google analytics, i’ve seen a significant improvement in my load times, and on a personal computer note, the more hard drive space you have, the better performance you’ll get out of it!
So far i’ve used the application on 3 of my event contracts on site, Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Star Trek’s 50th anniversary in New York, as well as the MASSIVE New York Comic Con. Between all 3 of these events, I’ve delivered over 25,000 images, all of which were compressed / optimized on site using JPEGMini and my little old laptop handled it like a champ! Between the ability to process incredibly fast as well as space savings, (think about 25,000 full sized jpegs AND raws shot on a 36megapixel Nikon D800…..that’s a lot), I couldn’t be happier with this application, and personally i believe it’s in your best interest to at _least_ give it a whirl on a trial and see how it can possibly fit into your workflow.