JPEG Standard Gets a Boost, Supports 12-Bit Color Depth and Lossless Compression


The JPEG standard made its debut in 1991 (publicly in 1992), and since then it’s become the most widely used lossy compression format for digital images. Now, The Independent JPEG Group at the Leipzig Institute for Applied Informatics — the folks responsible for defining the standard — has released an all new version 9.1 of the software library that comes with some powerful new abilities.

The new version of the ‘libjpeg’ library, as it’s called, is making headlines because, not only does it support 12-bit color depth and additional scaling functions, the new standard also supports more compression options including completely lossless compression.

So, while it might be some time still before any photographic hardware or software adopts the standard, this ability could potentially make it a competitor for both RAW and TIFF files when it comes to working with and archiving photographs.

You can get more details about the update from the original press release, but before you do that, what do you think of this update? Is it a big deal, or does it not matter given the prevalence of RAW files in the world of digital photography?

(via SLR Lounge)

Image credits: Photographer by Nicolás García

  • Konstantin Shtondenko

    I don’t take that “for preview purposes”. Who said that? Both Nikon and Canon already have full-size JPEG baked right into raw. It’s an equivalent of in-camera JPEG, so IMO covers all the use cases. It’s the image you want to share, eventually. If the shot you got with your camera fits your aesthetic – why not to post it?

  • Alan Klughammer

    OK, my “for Preview purposes” might be a small exaggeration, but if you are only using the embedded jpg in the raw file, why are you using a raw file?
    My original argument stands. A RAW file is used as a foundation to build your image.
    I actually wrote about this topic on my blog:

  • David Vaughn

    You must be great at parties.

  • Alan Klughammer

    Just have to go to the right parties…

  • The Angry IT Guy

    It isn’t a lot more info than 12 bit.

  • Diko Jelev

    Well, in 1 year time at most this new JPEG it will be support everywhere! :-)

  • Diko Jelev

    Well don’t think in terms of nowadays technology. 16 MP CMOS sensors are already developed to deliver much better IQ. I do believe that DR would improve as well. My concerns are relatod ONLY to those awfull lenses ;-)

  • Diko Jelev

    Yeah, that was my first thought as well. Perhaps here the talk of ver. 9.1 is about the regular mainstream JPG, and not about the lossless JPEG2000. ;-)

  • Diko Jelev

    Hmmm one could utilize in DPX container JPEG2000 already is being used. All major ARCHIVE players in the US DO use exactly that.And most OSCAR, Indie and documentaries are archived exactly with DPX JPEG2000 configuration.

  • Diko Jelev

    Troll ;-)

  • Diko Jelev

    I think you mixed DR with Color profile ;-)

  • Diko Jelev

    Good point there! :-))))

  • Diko Jelev

    Yeah, it is about time fo a 32 bit support (Other than TIFF) I don’t know if DNG or native RAW file formats support it. However in the age of automatic HDR RAW implemented in the newest DSLR bodies.

  • Diko Jelev

    WHat do you mean “good on paper only”? Could you please elaborate on that a little?

  • Konstantin Shtondenko

    >why are you using a raw file?
    to have an ability to edit every parameter of the image. If I want to. But if I’m a photojournalist – embedded JPEG might save me some time another day. Having software that can access this JPEG allows to shoot in Raw and remain fast in workflow. That’s why I believe that it’s the only format photographers need to shoot to (especially, DNG version of it). I also wrote a few words on the topic –

    P.S.: nice metaphor with cooking.

  • Alan Klughammer

    Yes, using the jpg is a nice shortcut. I normally have my camera write RAW to one card and jpg to the other. This way I can upload jpgs quickly if I need to, but I have the option “to edit every parameter of the image”
    I guess my nerd rage comes out when people don’t understand what a RAW file is…

  • Alan Klughammer

    “Good on paper” means that the list of specifications for the new jpg look interesting from an engineering point of view, but for a practical photographer, I am not sure what it would really be good for, that we don’t already file. We already have file formats that do everything stated and more…
    It will be interesting to see if this new jpg gains acceptance. I could also see it go the other way. If you send a file in the new jpg format, and the client has not updated their software, it could give a bad name to jpg.

  • Alan Klughammer

    I seriously doubt that…

  • Karen

    Really? 12-bit image has 4,096 levels of grey compared to 14-bit which has 16,384. Your statement does not seem to live up to your name.

  • Konstantin Shtondenko

    What camera supports this kind of setup with two cards working simultaneously?

  • Jonathan Pearson

    I was thinking more for in camera like a codec rather then archive…

  • Alan Klughammer

    I use Nikon, but I thought the Canons did too…

  • Anto de Chav

    JPEG embeds white balance .. it will never be a competitor to RAW…

  • stevelink

    Good point, SpongeBob! I agree, and until this new “lossless compression” file type becomes available, it’s just vaporware to me…In the meantime, I think RAW (i.e., in my case, Nikon’s NEF) is the way to go for most data, post processing, etc.

  • Spongebob Nopants


  • Diko Jelev

    You are right about that :-)

  • Korios

    It matters because RAW files will really be lossless after processing, losing no detail; unless the new standard is a RAW-like one, so you could shoot with it directly.

  • Matthew “fotomatt” Lit

    Sure this is late…but TIFF files have to be saved as either Mac or PC. Of course, Macs don’t care whether it was saved as a PC or a Mac…but PCs…well, they’re kinda strange that way…

  • Alan Klughammer

    Heaven forbid you use Linux or some such…