It’s not often that that you try a piece of software that completely blows you away. With apps and software available for everything under the sun, it’s rare that something new comes along that you find absolutely essential.
For me, that piece of software is JPEGmini, an amazing mac/pc application (and Lightroom plugin) that uses patented image optimisation technology to reduce the file size of photos significantly (up to 80%), while preserving their full resolution and quality.
The Jpeg (JPG) is a compressed image file format that has been around since 1991 as the standard for image use on the Internet, email and personal image storage. There are many ways to reduce the size of a jpg, via Photoshop, Lightroom or the myriad of other image editing applications, but more often than not this results in a visible reduction in image quality.
That is, until now.
If you don’t have time to read the rest of the review, this is all you need to know: JPEGmini is without a doubt the most amazing piece of software I’ve come across since I first used Photoshop 10 years ago. In my opinion, it is essential.
Since waking up this morning, I’ve reduced the size of my entire photo backup library on my main iMac (and 4tb Mybook WD external hard drive), my partner’s Macbook Air and my old and decrepit Macbook… saving over 26gb in hard drive space!
You might say, what’s the point in this? Storage is so cheap these days! Why would I need to save space? Well, I’m glad you asked!
Benefits of JPEGmini
1. Saving Hard Drive Space Yes, storage these days may be cheap, but for those of us using the Macbook Air and other solid state drive (SSD) based computers where internal drive replacement is expensive, storage is most certainly not cheap! (Incidentally, the Macbook Air is my favourite laptop, and dare I say favourite gadget I own. I highly recommend it!)
Here’s an example of a folder containing 652 high resolution images that I’d normally keep as a backup. On the left is before using JPEGmini, and on the right, after.
Bottom Line: JPEGmini has reduced my Lightroom JPEG backup catalogue by 1/3. ONE THIRD! With no noticeable loss in quality. 2. Saving USB Drive Disk Space
Wedding photographers, you’re going to love this! Ever tried to squeeze 11gb worth of client JPGs onto your 8gb USB thumb drive? Of course you have! With every new camera release, it seems like with all the new mega pixels, our file sizes are doubling and doubling – Nikon D800 and D810 users in particular, I sympathise!
Anyway, from now on, when I deliver HIGH RES photos to my clients, I use the JPEGmini Lightroom plugin (more on this later) to export my photos at half the size of what they would have been having used my previous export method, and easily fit every file onto my USB thumb drive.
Bottom Line: JPEGmini has meant I don’t need to order any costly new USB thumb drives. I can now provide the exact same quality of photo, at over half the file size.
3. Increasing Computer Speed
No matter what computer set up you’re running, if your hard drive has more space, it will run faster and more efficiently. This is especially apparent on devices with limited hard drive space, such as laptops, and again, the excellent Macbook Air.
If you have folders containing large amounts of JPG images on your desktop (waiting to ftp to clients etc), reducing the file sizes here will result in faster boot times and computer operation, particularly on older devices.
Bottom Line: JPEGmini has sped up my laptop by increasing my available hard disk space.
4. Increasing Site Speed
This one is huge for me, and will be for anyone else who relies on their website to earn a living.
The fact of the matter is, the faster your website the better. Fast websites are good for visitors (particularly impatient brides who load 5 wedding photographer sites at once!), and good for Google. Google places importance on site load speed as part of their ranking algorithm.
When I first saw what JPEGmini could do, I immediately started JPEGmini’ing all the photos on my personal website, reducing each file by around 50%, and speeding up average load times by… a crapload!
Below are the results of a page speed test by Pingdom on a Shotkit page, before and after using JPEGmini to reduce the file size of 12 JPGs.
Bottom Line: JPEGmini will help your site run faster. Much faster. If your site has multiple images, you need JPEGmini.
Have I convinced you yet? Honestly, this is the first time I’ve tried a piece of software and within 1 minute, yelled at my computer…
No Reduction in Quality
OK, let’s backtrack a bit – I still haven’t shown you what JPEGmini actually does! I’m still speechless since the first time I saw JPEGmini reduce one of my JPGs to almost 1/2 its original size with absolutely no reduction in quality, so I’ll let the images do the talking.
Backlit photo with strong shadow adjustment and exposure boost applied in Lightroom. Before using JPEGmini, the image was 415kb. After using JPEGmini, the image is 220kb. Before=top; After=bottom.
Conclusion: 46% size reduction with no visible loss of image quality!
Let’s try something more colourful. Contrast and shadows had been boosted, and highlights and whites reduced in Lightroom. Before using JPEGmini, the image was 670kb. After using JPEGmini, the image is 300kb. Before=top; After=bottom.
Conclusion: 55% size reduction with no visible loss of image quality!
Let’s do some pixel peeping. This photo was taken with a Nikon D800, a 36.3 mega pixel DSLR, and has had minor exposure correction and contrast boosting in Lightroom. Here’s the original image, resized for this post of course.
Here’s a zoom at around 100% for you to play spot the difference again:
Conclusion: Even at a 100% zoom, there is no discernible loss in image quality.
If you’d like to have a mess around with the high resolution JPG files, you can download them here. Incidentally, the difference between the before and after high res files is 19.3mb vs 7.8mb, a 59% reduction in file size :-)
There are currently two main pieces of software available – the JPEGmini app and the JPEGmini Lightroom plugin. (There’s also a server solution but I won’t go into it here.)
The JPEGmini app is super simple to install and use on a Mac or a PC – just drag and drop the photos or folders you’d like to process into the window and the JPEGmini app will do its thing. It also keeps a running tally of the amount of space you’ve saved, which is very satisfying to see!
The JPEGmini Lightroom plugin is only available with the JPEGmini Pro version. I haven’t mentioned the regular version of JPEGmini in this review, since I only dealt with the Pro version. The reason being, I, like so many other photographers out there, use Lightroom for my post production, so the JPEGmini Lightroom plugin (which only comes with the Pro version) was a no brainer. All you have to do is install it via Lightroom’s plugin manager, and that’s it!
Now, every JPG I export is automatically reduced in size by around 50%, retaining all its visual quality.
Here’s a comparison of the differences between the regular JPEGmini and the Pro version. You’ll notice that the Pro version is up to 8x faster than the regular version. I wasn’t able to confirm this since I went straight for the Pro version, but let me tell you – the Pro version absolutely flies.
This is especially noticeable on a computer with multiple cores, as JPEGmini pro utilises all the CPU cores in your computer simultaneously, shrinking your photos at amazingly high speeds.
So there you have it. I don’t really know what else to say – JPEGmini has left me speechless! I can whole heartedly recommend JPEGmini to anyone who stores, uploads or sends JPG images.
I don’t know what kind of voodoo black magic the guys at JPEGmini have used to be able to do something that not even the boffins at Adobe have come close to, but I’m so grateful that an advancement like this has been made in digital imaging.
The only reason I haven’t given JPEGmini a 10/10 score for ‘functionality’ is the fact that they haven’t got any options for Photoshop (yet). I have a Photoshop droplet set up for resizing images for my sites, and I’d love to be able to integrate a Photoshop JPEGmini action into it.
Anyway, my prediction is that JPEGmini will be bought out by Adobe within the year :-)
Support Shotkit by buying your copy of JPEGmini from B&H Photo – currently the best price available.
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Disclaimer: The JPEGmini links included in this post are affiliate links. This will not affect your JPEGmini purchase in anyway whatsoever. It just means that if you choose to buy JPEGmini from B&H Photo by clicking on the links, I will receive a small percentage which helps to pay the running costs of this site. I’m grateful for your support.
Review by Sydney Wedding Photographer and founder of Shotkit Mark Condon