What's the best way to optimize photos so that I can deliver quality to my clients while reducing the file size for faster uploads into the cloud? This has been a question I’ve been thinking about for sometime. I have tinkered with settings in Lightroom to try and find the right export recipe but it wasn’t till another photographer told me about JpegMini that I finally felt I had the solution. Using image optimization technology they developed, JpegMini was able to deliver maximum quality at minimum file size. I ran it through some tests and here are my results.
My initial test started with twenty RAW photos in Lightroom. I exported them two different ways and then checked the size of each folder. The first folder contained images that were exported with the Lightroom quality slider set to 100. The second folder the quality slider was at 100 but I introduced the JpegMini plugin. As you can see from the results JpegMini did a great job optimizing the files and making the folder half the size of the original. I then wondered if it was taking longer to export so I ran the test three times, timed the process and found that it only took on average 6 seconds longer when the JpegMini Lightroom plugin was being used. I was happy with those results.
I then ran another test. This time I used a full wedding and exported 1000 images. Again I exported one set with the quality slider set to 100 and another one just the same but including the JpegMini plugin during the export process. I was pretty amazed at the amount of space saved when using JpegMini. In fact using the JpegMini it saved over 9 GB of space.
I opened a number of photos and examined them at full resolution size and I could not tell the difference between them. Both photos, although one was 4x larger in file size, looked exactly the same. This is great news for both me and my clients. Uploading images to my gallery provider, will be even faster and when my clients request to download the full resolution files from the gallery their download will be quicker and use less space on their computer hard drive. #winwin. For those that use cloud services such as Dropbox this also means you are taking up significantly less space in your account.
Lightroom does have a way built in to help optimize the JPEG's on export which is to reduce the quality slider from 100 down to 90 or even 80 (sticking with round even numbers.) But during my tests I found the JpegMini still had better results even when the LR quality slider was at 80. What I found interesting is that when compared to those files exported with the quality slider set to 80 some of the JpegMini files were smaller others were larger. Ultimately the folder of JpegMini's was smaller in size but I was intrigued by the difference. What I discovered is that rather than just applying a general optimization to all photos JpegMini actually studies each photo to find the balance between quality and size and finds the point between those that will give you the best results. Using the LR slider does a decent job but JpegMini does it even better. The trick that I found though is that you will want to let JpegMini do all the work. Keep the Lightroom slider at 100 and introduce the JpegMini plugin to optimize those as you'll get better results that way then letting Lightroom tweak the files first. In short, if you are using JpegMini keep the Lightroom quality slider at 100.
JpegMini is one of those programs that once you start using it you realize how much you wished you had known about it earlier, such as Photomechanic. The company is entirely focused on photo optimization technology which makes sense as to how they do it so well. They offer three different flavors of JpegMini. Lite is their free program but it limits you to 20 photos per day and can be found on the App store. In addition they have JpegMini and JpegMini Pro. On the site they say the the Pro version is faster and allows larger images (up to 50MB) but really for me what makes Pro worth it is the Lightroom Plug-in. Once you get the plugin installed in Lightroom using their easy instructions that come with it all you have to do is check the setting when exporting files and it automatically runs the optimization for you. I absolutely love it and as I mentioned above the amount of time added to the export process is next to nothing. However the time saved when uploading the optimized images to the cloud is hours!
This has also come in very handy as I have been designing my new website. Using JpegMini I have been able to improve the images I am displaying there so they are delivered fast. Making sure your content delivery is quick is a key to ensuring a good experience for your website viewers. While I haven’t signed up for it yet the company even has a server product which allows you to host your images with them making your photo rich website even faster. You can learn more about JpegMini Server by clicking on the link and they even have a tool there to analyze your site to see how much faster it could run. This server tool might be better suited for large companies with hundreds or thousands of images on their site, but it might be worth checking out.
In conclusion, JpegMini is helping me to trim the fat off the jpeg’s I am delivering to my clients, instead giving them lean files that have preserved the full resolution and quality. This ultimately means faster uploads/downloads and less space to store the files. Might not mean much to someone that is not moving digital images across the internet everyday but to a busy photographer it means a world of difference. If your interest is perked go check out their website, or if you prefer the social media outlets here are links to their pages on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.