Combined threads digital photography & JPEG settings
Hi Noel, Here are a few of my thoughts regarding your recent post:
I am finding color balance to be very difficult to get right,
That’s true. I never get color balance correct in camera. It is easy
to to correct it with a photo editing program such as Adobe Photoshop
or Jasc Paintshop Pro.
the viewfinder isn't easy to see detail in, much less the little
I’m not familiar with the Nikon Coolpix 995 but have you tried
hooking the camera to a television set and focusing while using the
television screen as a viewfinder? I haven’t tried this method with
my digital camera but I used to do it all the time when I was using
my video camera for close up work.
Dan DanielBe JewelryFrom: “Cave, Jerry D - CNF” Cave.Jerry@cnf.com
Digital cameras appear to be a hot topic for discussion. I am also
shopping for my first digital. My phototography ventures began
about 25 years ago and I still shoot a fair amount of 35mm film,
mostly jury slides. The camera I’m looking at is the Oylmpus E20N.
Any thoughts on this unit for jewelry photos?
From: “Dave Sebaste” email@example.com
It also asks if I want "Best Compression" or "Best Quality".
Hi Beth, As with most of the JPG settings, it’s a compromise one must
work out. Best compression and best quality are opposite ends of the
same continuum. The quality of an image is dependent on the amount of
stored in the image, which makes it larger (in bytes). On
the web, that equates to a longer download time. The typical
objective is to get the smallest image size that maintains acceptable
image quality. For selling or showing art on the Web, I find that
maintaining high image quality is more important than in some other
The appeal of the JPG format is it’s compressibility… one of the
reasons it’s a Web standard, and not used much in print media. In
print, image size is basically irrelevant (no download time)… but
if you’re doing quality printing, you’re probably not using a JPG
Every time a JPG image is saved, some is lost when it
recompresses. In most scenarios, saving with highest image quality
the loss of image data is not perceptible. However, you may still be
able to increase the compression and maintain an acceptable image
quality. That’s where the “dance” comes in. Some applications allow
you to preview the resulting image to determine at which point the
loss image quality starts to outweigh the advantage of file
As Larrie pointed out, the Progressive setting allows a degraded
image to appear early, improving with subsequent “passes” as the file
is downloaded. This improves initial display of a Web page, but as
with all things good, it’s not “free.” It adds a little to the file
size, again increasing the download time a bit. It’s a trade-off, as
with the compression/quality issue.
As far as smoothing… JPG has a very deep color palette (millions
of colors), as compared with the GIF format (256 colors). In order to
improve image quality in most cases, the JPG format will dither, or
smooth sharp edges by interpolating color for borderline pixels and
actually adding colors to the transition areas. The reduces the
perception of “jaggies.” The good news is that since the JPG color
palette is so deep, it won’t add to the file size by adding colors
which are already on the palette. In some cases, especially if you’ve
added text to an image, you don’t want smoothing… you want the
edges of the characters to be crisp and sharp. One example of when
you don’t want smoothing.
A bit of research didn’t uncover anything on the Huffman codes. I
would try saving an image with it toggled off, then with it on.
Compare the images visually, and if you can’t perceive a difference,
go with the setting that yields the smaller file size. Generally
speaking, “optimized” means improved file compression, but check the
visual “cost” first. You may be able to get some specific information
by checking the help file of the application with which you are
manipulating the image.
P.S. Another Photoshop tip I learned recently: if you are scaling a
JPG image down more than 50%, you maintain better image quality by
scaling in two passes, with neither being more than 50%. I wish I
knew this earlier!
Hope this helps… and isn’t too redundant to what has already been
All the best, Dave Dave Sebaste Sebaste Studio and Carolina Artisans’
Gallery Charlotte, NC (USA) firstname.lastname@example.org
From: “Dave Sebaste” email@example.com
My Nikon 990 takes a lot better picture than my Nikon 990.
Hi Dan, I agree with what you say, and can tell you know of what you
speak. Could you clarify this sentence… I know it was a typo, but
I’m thinking about moving up from my old Sony Mavica.
Thanks, Dave Dave Sebaste Sebaste Studio and Carolina Artisans’
Charlotte, NC (USA) firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.CarolinaArtisans.com
From: “Eric V. Schmidt” ESP@lrbcg.com
Beth; Sorry - I thought I was sending post to the group. I’m
resending it - so the next post from me, you’ll already have.
Might. The diffusion does a lot of good. I would say that you’ll
get an OK image, but nothing spectacular.
Watch what you try - the lights get hot you know. Don’t think I’d
try a sheet - unless you put it a couple of feet away, Plexiglas
(white ) would work closer up. If you have access to a video store
get some 24x30" diffusion material. Maybe tough white or half tough
white. I’ve also seen some real heavy visqueen - like used as
temperature barriers at doors that have to be left open. Some of
the frosted ones would maybe work, but I don’t know how they will
take the heat.
From: “Andrew Horn” email@example.com
the window asks me if I want "Progressive", if I want to
"Optimize Huffman codes", if I want "Smoothing", and how much; and
then there is a "Component Sampling" setting. It also asks if I
want "Best Compression" or "Best Quality".
Beth, Don’t select any of these options, they are ways of
compressing your images farther while sacrificing image quality. The
only setting you may want to consider is “progressive”. It was
important in the early days of the internet, when people were on 28k
modems… what it does is send part of the image at a time, letting
the image appear in the browser earlier than it would if you had to
wait for the entire thing to download. The image first shows up
blurry or pixelated, then “PROGRESSIVELY” get sharper as more
picture is downloaded. Not so important now, and I rarely use it.
The best thing with JPEG is to use those quality settings, and keep
them at “good” or better quality… somewhere between best
compression and best quality, if you have that setting. I usually
set my jpegs at 6-8 or so in Photoshop, unless they are really small,
then I go for 2-3. Actually, to get an idea of what compression
looks like, save a few copies at different qualities, and you will
see the difference. Once you know what you are looking for, it
becomes quite evident. Sort of blocky colors and bands start to
appear in gradiated tones. As a matter of interest, you can actually
see JPEG compression on your DVD player in the background when
watching movies, and also on digital satellite or cable services on
regular TV. It’s the same mathematics.
Good luck! Drew Andrew Horn Designer, The Master’s Jewel
From: “Dan Tregembo” firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Everybody, I recently started selling jewelry on eBay and have
taken photographs of the items i sell. You can view them by clicking
on this link:
The items I photograph are very small with most measuring 10mm x
10mm. Here is the equipment I use:
Nilkon Coolpix 775. It has two very important features: macro
capability and white balance adjustment.
Two desklamps with a flexible metal “gooseneck”. The desk lamps
are designed to use regular tungsten screw in bulbs however I use the
60watt Phillips halogen bulbs because they produce a whiter light.
A $4 set of white plastic bowls from the local dollar store. I
cut a round hole in the top through which I insert the camera lens
and then aim the lamps at the bowl. This method gives a rather
"flat" look to the photographs which works well for some items but
not so well for others. Sometimes I tilt the bowl to let some direct
light to shine on the object. I am going to experiment with poking
holes in different parts of the bowl to let light enter and give the
jewelry a highlight effect.
A lamp that looks like a 7" x 7" x 7" frosted ice cube with a
25watt bulb inside and a slightly wavy surface. I place the jewelry
to be photographed on top of the lighted cube. Again I use the
goosneck lamps for the main light source. I use the cube when I do
not want shadows to appear under the jewelry and have found that the
wavy glass creates interesting reflections. I am going to experiment
placing the jewelry on glass blocks (used for glass block windows)
lit from below.
The MOST important thing (next to the camera of course!) is
decent photo editing software. Adobe Photoshop is great but is quite
complex. I use JASC Paintshop Pro. It does most of what Adobe does
but is easier to learn. Still, it would help to sit down with
somebody who is familiar with photo editing software to give you a
few lessons on how to use it. (Most highschool kids know how to use
it. I’d offer to take them to Pizza Hut afterwards and I’m sure one
would accept your offer!) With photo editing software you can do
things like trace around the object so that you can essentially “cut
out” the image and eliminate the background. You can create drop
shadows where you want. You can brighten the picture or alter the
contrast to “flatten” it or “punch” it up. Or you can eliminate the
color cast if the photograph looks too yellowish or whatever. You can
even sharpen photographs that are slightly out of focus. And a very
important feature for me is jpeg compression to compress the file
size of the photo so that it doesn’t take very long for the image to
download. (This is especially important on eBay. If your photo’s take
too long to appear, people just pass you up and go to the next item.)
Get a USB flash card reader. You can get em for about $15. This
isn’t really necessary but it does simplify things since you don’t
have to hook up your camera to the computer. You just insert the
flash card into the reader and your computer treats it as another
drive. Flash card readers often look like and are similar in size to
your computer mouse.
When I get the money I plan on purchasing a Wacom Graphire 2
digital drawing pad. This lets you draw on a flat surface using a
digital “pen” which replaces your mouse. It gives you much more
control than a mouse.
I will be constructing a light box shortly because I will need to
photograph larger items.
Hope this wasn’t too wordy. Let me know if you have any questions.
I’d be glad to help. Thanks to everybody who has responded to this
thread. I have found it to be very beneficial reading!
Dan DanielBe Jewelry http://www.stores.ebay.com/danielbejewelry
P.S. Dave Sebaste is cool!