Sees WebP as worthy replacement for JPEG, PNG and GIF formats
Undeterred by resistance from some of its rivals in the browser world, the Mountain View, California-based Internet giant blithely continues to push its WebP image format as a possible replacement for existing file formats like JPEG, PNG and GIF. The company is currently busy rolling out the format across its many web properties and claims to have already “raised our aggregate data transfer savings tally to tens of terabytes every day” in the process.
It’s all about control—and when you set your DSLR to capture images in the JPEG format, you’re giving up a whole mess of control. Sure, those images may look pretty good, but your final JPEG output never accurately reflects what your camera sensor actually sees, regardless of how well it converts data into the final picture.
A digital camera captures data on an electronic sensor. At its lowest level, this data is known as the raw file. It’s sensor data at its purist, virtually free of modifications and any digital conversions. All the sensor does is catch photons on millions of receptors and write the data to files. That data is literally raw—and DSLRs and some high-end point-and-shoot cameras give you access to this data in order to manipulate your photos with tremendous control.
Don’t like the ISO setting? Tweak it! White balance doesn’t seem right? Correct it! Editing raw files lets you work directly with pure sensor data, making decisions about exposure, shutter speed, fill light, and more, all after the image has been actually shot.
Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) ships with every Canon DSLR. It’s a simple, straightforward editing tool that pretty much supports just the basics: adjusting color temperature, batch conversions to other file formats, and simple noise reduction. It lacks the sophistication of its competitors, but since it comes free with every Canon DSLR, it’s tough to be too harsh.
The main interface is simple and uncluttered—arguably too uncluttered, as DDP hides much of its functionality under the menus. Want to crop? Pull down the tool menu and launch the trimming tool. Need spot repairs to remove dust specks? Fire up the stamp tool. Once in a tool, you can’t do anything else until you finish, then close the tool.
The main photographic touch-up capabilities are available when you begin editing an image. You can easily adjust white balance, brightness, contrast saturation, and tone curves in a tabbed panel alongside the image being edited. It’s easy to pop up a window that compares the original to the edited image, so you don’t have to always eyeball the changes from memory.
RAW mode, a feature of virtually all digital SLR cameras and an increasing number of high-end point-and-shoot cameras, enables your camera to capture all of the image data in your photographs in full quality without distortion caused by JPEG data compression. RAW files enable you to repair white balance and color temperature problems, solve exposure problems, and adjust color intensity and other settings far better than you can with JPEG files. Unfortunately, you must use software that supports RAW files to optimize your picture and export it to a format you can use for other purposes, such as JPEG or TIFF.
Thankfully, you don't need to spend a fortune on software to edit RAW images. Or be a hardcore digital photography buff, either.
The ubiquitous Zip file compression format has been a staple of PC users since it first made its debut as PKZIP in the early 90s. Back then, the size limitations of floppy disk media and the painfully low-bandwidth dial-up connections made file compression a complete necessity. The Zip format today, while still popular, has largely been eclipsed by RAR compression, which has offered slightly better compression at the cost of archiving speed. That’s why we were so surprised to hear that WinZip 12, which launched yesterday, boasted an unbelievable 25% compression ratio for JPEG images – without sacrificing image quality. Ever the skeptics, we put the new software to the test, and grilled WinZip’s VP of Development about how this new algorithm works.
Any bets as to whether WinZip's claims are justified?