JPEG news

Well, this is good news.  I’m not really one to mess around with RAW when I scan, usually I just export to JPG and leave it at that, but film scanners (especially the high-end ones) can record so much more information than what one can see in the standard JPG, and if all their improvements are true, man, just the ability to have 12bit color bit depth is just fantastic, let alone the lossless compression.  This is not only good for digital pictures, it’s good all around.  Except….

The thing is, Digital will always be changing things, always trying to make improvements, make the consumers spend another pile of cash on the next big thing.  If one shoots digital, and if one still has access to one’s RAW files, then 12bit JPG is a good thing.  Did you keep all your RAW files?  Can you access them still?

If not, too bad.

That 8bit color depth is as good as that picture’s ever going to get and there’s nothing that can be done about that.  For the last 14 years, most consumer-owned cameras have been set up to shoot JPG, or if not, most pictures were still stored that way (I’m unsure even if they could be set up to shoot a new JPG format).  That means probably 95% of family photos since Y2K.  8bit JPG will be automatically obsolete the day 12bit JPG comes out.  So now, I guess everyone is going to be inspired to go out and buy a new digital camera…

Film, on the other hand, has so many colors, so much detail, that it can’t even yet be all seen in the digital world.  This is why, as a film shooter, I see 12bit JPG as nothing but good news.  Sure, it might be a bit of a pain in the ass for people who have to rescan a lot of images (assuming they didn’t keep their digital RAW files), but all the information they could ever want is there in the negative (and slides!) for as long as they’ll need it.  That is just part of the magic of film.


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