with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Microsoft Offers New Image File Format

Microsoft Announces HD Photo, touted to be the next file format for digital photographers:

HD Photo offers compression with up to twice the efficiency of JPEG, with fewer damaging artifacts, resulting in higher-quality images that are one-half the file size. In addition, HD Photo offers increased image fidelity, preserving the entire original image content and enabling higher-quality exposure and color adjustments in the image. This new format offers the ability to decode only the information needed for any resolution or region, or the option to manipulate the image as compressed data.

…In addition, HD Photo offers both lossless and lossy image compression, and can retain the full dynamic range and color gamut data from a camera’s sensor. Also, because making adjustments to common color balance and exposure settings won’t discard or truncate data as other common bitmap formats typically do, it’s easier to “undo” those changes at a later time. As a result, significantly smaller files can be created while still retaining optimum picture quality.

New image formats are long past overdue. We’ve been living with JPEG, GIF, and the less touted PNG for a long time and in many ways, they have outlived their usefulness. It will be interesting to see how this new image file format works, if it is accepted by society, and what the competition will offer.


  • Posted March 21, 2007 at 7:48 | Permalink

    I will not even give it a try if the format is not public, open, and the decoding algorithms are not made open-source. I would not want my pictures to be tied to MS, no more than my films are tied to ILFORD.

  • Posted March 21, 2007 at 9:47 | Permalink

    Agreed. It is, however, time for a new image format. I need to dig in and research what is up and coming on the list.

    With all the digital photography and photographers out there, we need to get something new to handle higher resolution, quality digital image without impinging upon bandwidth and file size. Once again, technology is leaping ahead of technology. ;-) And leaving the consumer behind.

  • Posted March 21, 2007 at 15:07 | Permalink

    Sometimes, there are no new improvements just because we already have the best there is — I mean, nobody wants to change C language although it is as old as I am.
    But I agree jpeg can be improved — in the earth observation business, satellite pictures now use wavelet compression. Somehow I believe this is where the new formats will be going (apparently, that’s what jpeg2000 chose).

    I have a request: could you (some day, no hurry) cover the issue of digital images storage durability (formats, mediums, crashes). I cannot help worrying about the photographic memory lost each day to faulty hard disks or unreadable CDs. Where would history be if all we could find from grandpa’s attic were XIXth century broken hard drives or CD-RWs with the reflective layer peeling off, with digital pictures in a proprietary binary format by an obscure computer tycoon gone bankrupt during the great depression?

  • Posted March 22, 2007 at 10:03 | Permalink

    I did a while ago on CD Storage for Images Now Not a Good Idea. Portable hard drives are the best method today, with backups of those. I’ve yet to dig into the durability of the new Blu-Ray and similar technologies as they haven’t yet been embraced in the US. The US is so far behind in a lot of computer technology. I had hands on access to better information and resources when I lived overseas.

    I’ll dig into this more soon. Thanks for the kick in the buns.

  • Posted February 29, 2008 at 13:22 | Permalink

    I’m not even going to touch this until it’s more readily available to the public.

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