Monday, January 7, 2013

When Is A Free Mac Graphic Compression Tool Worth A Hefty Price Tag?

JPEGminiAlmost anyone who uses graphic apps on the Mac knows about JPEGs; the file format which reduces graphic images in varying degrees. In fact, I don’t know of a Mac graphic tool or photo app which doesn’t save or export files in JPEG format.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a Mac app which does only one thing better than any other app? JPEGmini is an app that claims to compress photos beyond normal and comes with a hefty price tag to match the bravado.

The claim is that original image quality is maintained while reducing file size up to five times. A 100k image could be reduced to a mere 20k yet look the same. At least, that’s how the story goes with JPEGmini.

The reality is more basic. Your mileage may vary. In fact, it’s likely to vary quite a bit. For example, I took three high quality JPEG photos and opened them Preview on the Mac and exported each as a JPEG image, moving the slider bar to about 75-percent.

Then, I ran the same three photos through JPEGmini Lite at what I thought would be a comparable setting for quality. The result was encouraging. The JPEG photos were smaller in size than those exported in Preview.

At the other end of the scale are Adobe applications, Photoshop and Fireworks, both of which can export JPEG images with very high compression and very low file size.

In this contest, Adobe won hands down. At a setting where the images appeared exactly the same onscreen– JPEGmini vs. Adobe (either Photoshop or Fireworks), the Adobe JPEG files were smaller in size.

For what it’s worth, this is a subjective analysis. My somewhat experienced eye determined which photos, when compressed, appeared to be the same onscreen. That’s where your mileage may vary.

Now, there’s another issue. JPEGmini Lite is free, but doesn’t have the same features or capabilities as JPEGmini the full version, which is almost $20. Yet, Photoshop and Fireworks cost hundreds more. So, if you’re on a budget, this isn’t a bad deal at all, Lite or Pro, and a very simple way to squeeze a photo or image file size down, while not sacrificing quality.