The Independent JPEG Group has announced an update for the JPEG format standard which comes packed with 12-bit color depths, improved scaling, and lossless compression.
Most professional photographers shoot in the RAW file format because the data is not processed therefore it does not lose quality. RAW files retain all the information until the files are processed with a special software, such as Lightroom.
RAW is the standard for high-quality photos, but the image file standard goes by the name of JPEG, which stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPG is another common terminology for this type of files.
Although it is the most popular format in the world, it has one major flaw: its compression method is “lossy”, therefore it loses important data during photo capture as the processing is done within the camera.
Thankfully, the format has been receiving updates for more than 10 years, becoming better and better. The Independent JPEG Group is in charge of the file format and it has just launched version 9.1 of the JPEG standard.
JPEG update 9.1 now available, brings lossless compression and 12-bit color range
The changelog includes some sought-after changes to the compression methodology, which is currently losing information that can never to be restored. However, thanks to the JPEG update 9.1, this standard is now capable of supporting lossless compression.
The best part about it is that JPEG becoming a lossless compression format will have enormous implications in HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography and AR (Augmented Reality) applications.
The “libjpeg” library has been used as the basis for the JPEG standard since 1991. Roughly 23 years have passed, but enhanced compression is finally here via better arithmetic coding.
Another important new feature consists of support for 12-bit color range. This file format will capture a wide dynamic range, so the luminance range will be greatly extended.
Additionally, the scaling functions have been improved, too, and they are now a part of something called Smart Scale.
Adoption will take a while, so don’t expect your JPEG photos to become better overnight
The code behind the latest JPEG update is available for download at the official website of the Institute for Applied Informatics.
It is very likely that the first to adopt it are printing and projection companies, while digital camera makers may take a while to adjust their current JPEG technology using the new coding.
For the time being, RAW will still be the standard for lossless compression and image editing, but it is nice to see the amazing progress made by the JPEG file format and soon we may be able to buy cameras that can handle 12-bit color depths directly from JPEG files.