We’ve had a great run together, and you served us well, but the time has come that we move on. You didn’t do anything wrong, even though others preached that we, photographers, should always use raw instead of you, JPEG. Those who preached only raw and nothing but raw didn’t understand how you, JPEG, were needed and helped digital photography to explode. Yet all good things must come to an end.
Yes, I admit that I’ve been a fan of the JPEG format for a long time. It’s required for most of my editorial work, as speed and convenience is needed to make deadlines. I also shot raw, especially when I know that I don’t need to have an image out to my editor as fast as possible but when speed is necessary, JPEG is excellent. That is until now.
In this video by Tony Northrup, he provides well thought out and supported reasons for moving beyond the now almost 30-year-old JPEG format, which was introduced in 1992. Northup advocates that the JPEG format be replaced with the new High Efficiency Image File Format (HEIF and pronounced as HEF). This format is similar to JPEG as its an image compression format, so it isn’t intended to replace raw. You can think of it as a modern version of JPEG that now lets you have images file sizes at almost one half the size of the corresponding JPEG file. For me, that means faster downloads from the memory card, and also quicker uploads to my editor. This improvement in speed cuts down on my time in the photo den after an event, which in turn permits me to get back to the hotel or my flight sooner.
I haven’t tried the new format yet myself, and my camera lineup doesn’t shoot in HEIF, but when I look for new equipment, it will be one of the considerations I used to pick a new camera body.
What are your thoughts? Is it time for the JPEG format to be retired, or should we keep using something that isn’t broken?