Blog

Using a Lossless File Format

Unless you are a professional photographer, the odds are very good that your digital camera (without special settings) takes and transfers pictures to your computer using the jpg file format. Every time you open a jpg file, make edits, and resave it, the image will lose quality that can never be recovered.

To overcome this issue, the first thing we want to with our original photographs is to create a working copy using a lossless file format, such as PNG or TIF files, therefore keeping the original photograph untouched by using only the working copy of the photograph for all image editing.

My personal preference is to work with photographs individually, so my first step is to open the image I want to edit in Photoshop Elements and save it as PNG file. From the file menu, select: file > save as

View Screenshot

A new small window will open. At the top, where it says save in you will need to use the arrow down button to select which file you would like to save the photograph in. Some people find it easier to organize the working copies of their images into a new file created for that purpose.

Near the bottom of the of the save as window, where it says format, you need to arrow down to your preferred lossless format. I generally choose the PNG file format and then place a checkmark in the box for lower case extension. Click save.

View Screenshot

Immediately after you select save a small PNG Options window for the interlace settings will pop up. I generally select no.

View Screenshot

You now have a working copy of your photograph for editing that will not lose quality every time you save it. Later, when we are ready to optimize the edited image for web use, we will save it in the jpg file format as this works best for displaying photographs on the web.

If you have a large number of photographs that you need to save as a new file format, you may prefer to process multiple files at the same time. You can use batch formatting to process all of the images within a folder. This will allow you to keep the originals, create copies in a new lossless format, and save them to a folder of your choice, all in one simple process.

From the menu, select: file > process multiple files.
(also known as batch processing)

View Screenshot

A new window will pop up. Essentially, what we need to do now is tell the program the location (source) of the photographs we want to process, where were want the processed images saved (destination) and what file format we want to use to save the images. You can even rename the files at the same time if you would like. Although you can also resize the images with this process, this is something I generally prefer to do individually as my personal preference is to complete all edits to my photographs before I resize them.

View Screenshot

Batch processing can take several minutes to complete.

I wrote this tutorial for Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 users, but you will find that the basic process is almost identical using previous versions of Photoshop Elements, Paint Shop Pro, and PhotoImpact.

J. Cricket Walker

Small Business Marketing Consultant and Scenic Photographer
Copyright © 2006 J. Cricket Walker of Online Photography Magazine All Rights Reserved

  1. Pj Stanton
    Pj Stanton08-23-2007

    Thanks for the help, I am slowley learning “Digital” techniques and this site is extremly helpful.

Leave a Reply