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Thread: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

  1. #1

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    Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    I am considering having some of my digital color files printed at Costco. They have a service for a 12X18" print on Fuji Crystal Clear paper for $2.99, which is probably as inexpensive as I can print color on my Epson 3800. However, I can only upload .jpeg files. Will changing the file from .psd to .jpeg and immediately printing from it result in much loss of image quality?


    Sandy King

  2. #2

    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    At that price why don't you just try it and see.
    I have done this with a UK lab who print digital files cheaply and the output was pretty good from a laser printer. But make sure you know what their output ppi is so that you size the file correctly before sending it to them. Otherwise they will resize it and who knows what you will get back. If their service is any good, then they should tell you the output ppi. I'm assuming that they will be printing at 254 ppi or above.

  3. #3

    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    Well I just had a look at their website and the recommended pixel dimensions for your 12x18 print is only 1620x1080 which equates to 90ppi output which is less than 2lp/mm. So I reckon that if they are reducing all output to that resolution for speed of throughput, then any loss of quality due to saving as a high quality jpeg will be the least of your worries.

  4. #4

    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    and the lab I tried output at 254ppi = 5 lp/mm

  5. #5
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    Quality is only lost in the changing from a lossless format (e.g. psd) to a lossy format (i.e. jpg). By not compressing more than needed, the quality of a jpg file can be so close to that of the original psd that the only way to tell the difference is to subtract one from the other and enhancing the very small differences.

    Since one of my few digital files is HUGE (105 Mpx), I've invested some time in experimenting with this. There is often a point where further compression starts hurting detail, and another where all detail is preserved. If the image (like mine) has large areas of very similar tones, a 1% compression ("99% quality") makes a file which is insignificantly larger than a file made with 15% compression.

  6. #6
    3d Visual Effects artist
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    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    I have most of my stuff printed from 12 quality JPG (least compression, best quality) from photoshop. The only time I've really ever noticed compression in a printed JPG image, was when I had a photo of a very bright & saturated red car printed, and that was from a 10 quality compressed file, a bit more compression than 12 (1 being highest compression, 12 being least compression). My files are sent off and printed at 300dpi.

    But yea, do your own test, either at a lab that can do both file types, or right there on your printer. I say do it for yourself, because for some reason this issue is really difficult to take peoples word on. Even myself, I never really believed anyone when they said you wouldn't notice any quality lost from a low compression JPG file, until I did the test myself. Here's how I'd suggest you do the test, send both of the files with no markings as to which one is the low compression JPG and which one is the TIFF (non compressed or lossless compress, doesn't matter). If you can't tell any difference, then you now know for yourself that the JPG is fine to print from. If you want to take it even farther, print yet another file from a JPG file that has more compression. I haven't done this, I've only done 100% quality JPG V/S non compressed/lossless.

    Now, don't WORK from JPG files, work from non-compressed or lossless compressed files, then save only your final PRINT file as .JPG, keep the other working final as a non-compressed/lossless file. Don't open JPG files and re-save them, now you're compressing again, and again, and so on. It will start to become noticeable.

    If you printing lab is opening up the .JPG and they are doing color corrections (most places offer this as an option, 'custom color correction', and 'face enhancement' or what not), and if their printers only accept .JPG files that means that they will most likely have to re-save the file as a .JPG again, thus re-compressing the image. If this happens, you may start to notice some of the compression. Places that offer this service will also have either a "don't color correct my images" button, or they just won't correct anything unless you tell them to do something custom with the image.
    Daniel Buck - 3d VFX artist
    3d work: DanielBuck.net
    photography: 404Photography.net - BuckshotsBlog.com

  7. #7
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    The file I used for my 100x140cm prints (40x56") print is the same one I used for the "zoomified" view here: http://www.bruraholo.no/images/Lodalen.html .

    Apart from a couple of blocks lost in the zoomify process, I can't find any sign of lost resolution.

  8. #8

    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    I think issue here is the resolution at which costco will print. If its at 90ppi then the image will be soft and the quality will be lost in the reduction of resolution and not due to saving as jpeg.

  9. #9

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    JPEG is a destructive compression algorythm

    The short answer is that PSD (or tiff) are compressionless file formats, (no data destroyed or discarded). JPEG (Joint Photographers Experts Group) was formulated as a "lossey" (data discarded from the file) compression routine, designed to aggressively compact data bits into a smaller byte size file for transfers over slower forms of internet traffic, like dialup, or mail clients with file size limitations.

    That said, JPEG (jpg) is clearly a degradation of image quality at some level. The only aspect of JPEG that controls the actual loss of data is the percentage control on how strongly the process crunches the file size.

    Cheap consumer processing labs are less concerned with professional requirements than meeting volume demand for 4X6 and 5X7 prints.

    The process however is a bit controllable by making sure that only ONE compression (jpg "save") takes place. Each successive save as a jpg is cumulative on the loss of data.

    I'd be hard pressed to accept the quality of a large print from a JPEG, but I don't think you have much choice unless you are going to control the process in house, or go to a professional processor.
    Last edited by Kuzano; 7-Jun-2008 at 19:25. Reason: add last bit

  10. #10

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    Re: Is quality lost printing from a .jpeg file?

    Quote Originally Posted by sanking View Post
    I am considering having some of my digital color files printed at Costco. They have a service for a 12X18" print on Fuji Crystal Clear paper for $2.99, which is probably as inexpensive as I can print color on my Epson 3800. However, I can only upload .jpeg files. Will changing the file from .psd to .jpeg and immediately printing from it result in much loss of image quality?


    Sandy King
    In a word, No! Follow the instructions found on Dry Creek Photo for embedding the correct color profile needed by your local Costco.

    Don

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