By Tan Chong Yaw
IMAGES from photos on the camera to banners on a webpage to screenshots on the PC come in a confusion of formats.
While some are skewed for quality - like Tiffs and Bitmaps - others are compressed to maximise storage - like JPEGs.
Here is how to make sense of the image format jungle:
Graphics Interchange Format
Pronounced "jif" or "gif"
Many of the images you see on the Internet - like buttons, logos, simple animations and low-resolution film clips - are GIFs. They are not good for details or the complex colours of photos.
JPEG or JPG
Joint Photographic Experts Group
The default format for digital camera photos. Pictures are compressed - JPEGs give the smallest files in this line up - with a little loss of quality.
Portable Network Graphics
A newer format good for photos. Designed as a more flexible replacement for GIF, it shows more colour and detail.
Files are larger than JPEG. iPhone screenshots are PNG files.
Tagged Image File Format
A widely-used format in commercial printing where quality is key. An image in Tiff can be more than eight times a JPEG version.
Pronounced "bit map"
Like Tiff files, BMP files are uncompressed whoppers in that they take up loads of file space. Screenshots on the Windows PC and desktop images are in this Microsoft format.
Pronounce the initials
This is the go-to program for all manner of image manipulation and enhancement. With the emphasis on quality, do not expect PSDs to be small files.
Here is how to save and share photos:
Your friend sends you an e-mail message with photos attached (seen as the little paper clip symbol in the e-mail subject field).
Save the files to a folder on the desktop so that you can easily find them.
First, scroll down to the bottom of the e-mail message to find the icon for photos. In Lotus Notes, right-click on any icon and choose Save All.
Then, click the downward-facing arrow on the bar that says Look In. Click it and choose Desktop.
Next, move the cursor to the third icon - a picture of a folder - on the right of the arrow. The words Create New Folder will appear.
Click the icon. After the folder is created, type in a name for the folder and hit the Enter key.
Final step: Click on your new folder and click on the OK button.
You have saved the photos into a folder on your PC desktop.
Use a purpose-built viewer instead of Windows Explorer. It is faster and has more functions like photo tweaking.
Try Picasa from search giant Google. Download it from picasa.google.com.
Double-click on the picasa35-setup.exe file once the download is done.
Follow the instructions on the screen. At the fourth window when it says that Picasa is ready to search your PC, choose the button that starts with "Only scan My Documents..." and click the Continue button.
Choose Select All and hit the Finish button.
Depending on how many images you have in your PC, Picasa may take a minute or more.
Scroll through the folders on the left panel to find your folder.
Now for the best part: click the green play button above your photos - Picasa will display a slideshow complete with smooth dissolves.
Straight from the camera, most photos are too huge if all you want to do is to e-mail them to friends for viewing on their PC screens.
Even svelte fashion cams are now churning out 12-megapixel photos - large enough for A3-size prints. Talk about overkill.
In Picasa, hold the Ctrl button and left-click to pick the photos you want to e-mail. Left-click the photo again if you change your mind.
Click the Export icon - a picture of a folder - at the bottom of the screen when you are done. Hit the Browse button and choose the same folder that your photos are in.
In Image size, choose Resize and move the slider to 1,024 pixels. Hit Export and that is it.
Not only are the photos resized, they are converted to the more universal JPEG format whether they were in GIF, PSD, PNG or BMP formats originally.
To e-mail the resized files, select them like before.
Then, click the E-mail button at the bottom. Choose an e-mail program - say Gmail - then type in the e-mail address and hit Send. Easy.
Should you want to send the originals without someone screaming at you for overwhelming his inbox, try the free Web service yousendit.com.
Go to the website and click the Browse button to look through your folders to find the photo you want to upload to a friend's e-mail account. Hit the Send It button.
Warning: Uploading takes time. A single picture can take more than a minute.
Once the upload is complete, your friend will be sent an e-mail with a Web link for him to download the file.
With the free service, you can upload just one file up to 100MB in size.
Tip: Compress your photos to cram more than 10 12-megapixel photos into a single zip file.
Download a free zip app from 7-zip.org if you need one.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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