BPG Image File Format Looks Notably Better, But Can It Replace JPEG?

Dec 17, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

BPG Image File Format Looks Notably Better, But Can It Replace JPEG?

Dec 17, 2014

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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For so long we have accepted and integrated JPEGs into our digital lives, it’s almost hard to fathom that there could be a better alternative. A new, mysterious file format that not only creates smaller files, but one that makes better looking photos, too. Howerever, Fabrice Bellard has come up with a new format, the aptly titled Better Portable Graphics (or BPG), which does just that. BPG utilizes the new x265 video codec to create an image file which is equivalent to pulling a single frame out of a H.265 video clip.

bpg

Pros And Cons

Though BPG’s image quality is about the same as our current JPEG, this new format produces image files that are half the size of JPEG. Or you can think of it having an image that is two times better than a JPEG without taking up anymore memory. This is good for a number of reasons. Primarily, it allows for faster load times for web users, and also creates a little more breathing room on your hard drive.

On Bellard’s BPG website, some of the most beneficial qualities are listed. Here’s a quick look at a handful of them:

  • Files are significantly smaller than JPEG.
  • Supported by most Web browsers with installed Javascript decoder.
  • Supports JPEG chroma formats in addition to alpha channel, RGB, YCgCO, and CMYK formats.
  • Supports 8 to 14 bits per channel natively.
  • Lossless compression support.
  • Ability to include EXIF/Metadata

 

bpg3

The downside, I suppose, would be that you are giving photostealers nicer quality images, and also that it’s seemingly impossible for a new format to replace the JPEG. Even if BPG does really start to take off, it could be years before we start to see it become a main player. BPG would first have to be integrated into existing and future computer systems, which is obviously quite a large undertaking. Not impossible, but difficult nonetheless.

bpg1

There is a JavaScript that allows you to decode a BPG, but most webmasters are reluctant to adapt the new format due to the fact that viewers without the piece of JavaScript running would not be able to see the images. Thus, it really needs to be built into browsers for it to take off. There is an open source library currently available to developers which allows them to build BPG support into their apps, which gives us hope, but, as we know, developing apps takes time. To that end, the ability to decode BPG can also happen via hardware which supports the H.265 codec, but replacing existing hardware with H.265 capable devices is also going to be a lengthy process.

If you’re thirsty for more comparison shots, be sure to check out this website. Meanwhile, tell us your thoughts on BPG and the likelihood that it will amass a large enough following to be fully realized, in the comment section below.

[ via Extreme Tech ]

 

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Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller

Tiffany Mueller is a photographer based in Hawi, Hawaii. You can follow her Twitter here and her personal life here.

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7 responses to “BPG Image File Format Looks Notably Better, But Can It Replace JPEG?”

  1. Wil Fry Avatar
    Wil Fry

    Not just with images, but with any type of digital media (docs, music, video, etc.), the average person won’t (or shouldn’t) take it up until there is widespread compatibility and support. I won’t use a BPG until browsers can display it natively, until major players like Flickr or Facebook accept it as an upload, and — most importantly, until my software (DPP, for example), can eaisly create it from a raw file.

  2. Ramon Mata Avatar
    Ramon Mata

    It is a good thing to have new options, let’s not forget that Google also tried to replace JPG four years ago, with their WebP format.

    Hopefully one day the bigger internet / imaging companies will switch to something new

  3. Wesley Avatar
    Wesley

    Even if it’s not a full adoption with the mainstream, it would be nice for a full archive conversion for space.

    1. Ramon Mata Avatar
      Ramon Mata

      In the case of DSLR photography I think the best option is to keep the RAW file and not a small processed file.

  4. Photography by Jimbo Avatar
    Photography by Jimbo

    Been format wars like this for years… 8-track versus the cassette, Betamax versus VHS, CD versus laser disc etc, etc – in all cases the inferior format won out due to greater adoption. JPEG holds the high ground and has already got major adoption and acceptance. BPG may be superior but it has an enormous uphill struggle to break into the mainstream.

  5. Rick Avatar
    Rick

    If adoption is going to happen, it will likely start with the camera companies. Imagine the marketing advantages of double the frame rates for continuous shooting or half the download time especially now that more people are doing it wirelessly.

  6. Kenneth Younger III Avatar
    Kenneth Younger III

    “The downside, I suppose, would be that you are giving photostealers nicer quality images”

    How is that a downside? You just export your image at the crappier level.

    Also, “photostealer”. Laf. People live in fear, don’t they!