D200 file Compression questions

Started Mar 8, 2006 | Discussions
gnet158 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,195
D200 file Compression questions

JPEG Compression lists two options,
1 Size Priority
2 Optimal Quality

What’s the real difference aside from being able to fit more JPEG’s on your CF card when using option 1?

RAW NEF Compression
1 NEF (RAW) no compression

2 Comp NEF (RAW) – compresses files 40-50% with little drop in quality. Is that true?

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Onetrack97 Senior Member • Posts: 1,953
Re: D200 file Compression questions

gnet158 wrote:

JPEG Compression lists two options,
1 Size Priority
2 Optimal Quality

What’s the real difference aside from being able to fit more JPEG’s
on your CF card when using option 1?

RAW NEF Compression
1 NEF (RAW) no compression
2 Comp NEF (RAW) – compresses files 40-50% with little drop in
quality. Is that true?

I have not shot jpg's yet, I might try it under sunny outdoor conditions. I set mine for Quality for when the time comes.

The compressed NEFs aren't quite 1/2 the size but almost. My understanding is that most of the compression is at the extremes. I have not been able to tell the difference in anything that I have done. I have shot both ways but not in a controlled test.
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R Parenteau Senior Member • Posts: 1,688
One of the best ways to demonstrate

compression is to look at the difference between a Fine JPG and a Basic JPG. The basic JPG uses the highest compression and as you can actually see there is a difference in quality between the two.

When it comes to RAW, I cannot see the difference, but I am sure that any compression results in loss of data as it is exhibited with jpgs. I read somewhere that there is no truly lossless compression.
So with that in the back of my mind, I tend to shoot full RAW all the time.
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J_W_D Senior Member • Posts: 1,356
Re: One of the best ways to demonstrate

I'm no expert on NEF compression, and since the manual states that there is minimal loss, then there is very likely some loss in that compression, but it is not true that loss-less compression does not exist. Look at a .zip file for an example. Nothing is lost, the data is just represented in a more compact (and completely reversible) format.

Bill Hall Contributing Member • Posts: 890
I agree

There are methods of compressing data with no loss at all. Zip files, as was stated above, do this. Otherwise, an executable file likely would no longer be executable after it was compressed and uncompressed. An example of lossless compression is run length encoding (RLE). It works by not repeating values. Say you have 100 ASCII zero characters:

000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

Instead of sending all 100 zeros, RLE would send one character indicating that the data after it was compressed data (you could use, say, hex 1), a count, and the character. So the hundred zeros become three hex characters:
01 64 40

That's about a 33:1 compression with no loss whatever.

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Kaj E Forum Pro • Posts: 10,080
Re: D200 file Compression questions

gnet158 wrote:

JPEG Compression lists two options,
1 Size Priority
2 Optimal Quality

The size of a JPEG file typically increase with detail in the image. An image with little detail (for instance one with plenty of blue sky is typically small).

The "size priority" tries to limit the file size, so it applies more compression to an image with much detail to keep the file size fairly constant for all scenes. This setting tries to limit the max. file size.

The "optimal quality" setting keeps the compression constant and allows the the file size to increase with more detail.

As implied by the names Size priority keeps the file size smaller at the expense of quality, whereas the "optimal quality" keeps the quality good at the expense of larger files.

What’s the real difference aside from being able to fit more JPEG’s
on your CF card when using option 1?

RAW NEF Compression
1 NEF (RAW) no compression
2 Comp NEF (RAW) – compresses files 40-50% with little drop in
quality. Is that true?

Uncompressed RAW records all the information available in the RAW file 12-bits throughout the image. In an uncompressed RAW file the darker tones have fewer steps of information than the light ones.

The compressed file compresses the lightest tones in the RAW file by limiting the many available steps in the highlights. The dark tones are untouched because they have fewer tones to start with. This results in a file with an average of about 9.3 bits. The philosophy is apparently to discard some of the "unnecessarily" numerous steps in the highlight area. The highlight area will in this way lose data and be of lower quality but the overall quality will still be quite good.

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21farms Regular Member • Posts: 481
Re: One of the best ways to demonstrate

R Parenteau wrote:

I read somewhere that there is no truly lossless
compression.

canon compressed RAW files are lossless...at least on the 20D, not 100% sure on the other models.

flyingdutchie Contributing Member • Posts: 950
Re: Agree with Kaj

Nikon calls this NEF compression 'visually' lossless.

Nikon claims that the human eye is more sensitive in dark areas than in light areas. If compression 'discards' information in the highlights, human eyes won't notice.

For 99.5% of all shots, compressed NEFs are fine. You won't see a difference, even when heavily post-processing your pics. For that 0.5% of pics that you need it, use uncompressed NEF.

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OP gnet158 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,195
Thanks for all the replies!

I brought my D200 with me to work today. I took her out (for the first time) and shot JPEG in both Size Priority and Optimum Quality. I even took some in NEF compressed and non compressed. I’ll look at them when I get home.

I also played around with the color modes and took some in Vivid and more vivid modes, judging from the screen I like the Vivid mode.

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Scootertrash Forum Member • Posts: 64
Re: Agree with Kaj

I switch to compressed raw from uncompressed and the amout of pictuers left on the disk that the camera reports didn't go up. Is that normal?

Kaj E Forum Pro • Posts: 10,080
Yes it's...

...normal. The camera cannot predict the tonal distirbution of the images you will take, so it plays it safe, by telling you the minimum number of images left.

Scootertrash wrote:

I switch to compressed raw from uncompressed and the amout of
pictuers left on the disk that the camera reports didn't go up. Is
that normal?

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R Parenteau Senior Member • Posts: 1,688
I agree that .zip files are lossless but they are not photos.

zip files remove the empty space between the data strings, which is very nice but it does not work that way with jpg compression or raw compression, they do not have that spacing that zip files like to remove. Just zip a photo file it will not shrink much, nothing for it to do.
So ya zip files are lossless but again they are not photo files.
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Robert Peters Veteran Member • Posts: 5,396
But...The strange thing is that Nikon 'corrected'

the image count on the D70 with a firmware update. It's no big deal big is a bit strange that the D200 still needs such an update.

Bob Peters

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jerseydirt Junior Member • Posts: 28
Re: Thanks for all the replies!

As far as color modes go, I also prefered the "Vivid" over "More Vivid" when shooting Jpegs but the pictures were not sharp enough in Vivid. The solution was to use "Custom" settings with the following parameters:
Sharpness +2 (High)
Saturation (Enhanced)
Tone (Normal)

I find these setting to give me the best results for everything other than portraits.

J_W_D Senior Member • Posts: 1,356
Re: I agree that .zip files are lossless but they are not photos.

If I am not mistaken compressed TIFF files use LZH compression - same as zip. TIFF is a photo file.

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