Reduce JPEGs to Speed up your Website

Shotkit Lightroom Tip

Reducing the file size of JPEGs is a must to speed up your website, save valuable hard drive space and make your entire post processing and delivery workflow more efficient. The goal is to find the smallest possible JPEG file size without any visual degradation in quality.

With a smaller JPEG size, your website will load quicker, allowing for a more user-friendly experience for your clients, and will keep Google happy too.

It’s no secret that the faster a webpage loads, the more favourably Google will rank it.

Typically, photographers’ sites are photo-heavy and thus slow-loading by nature, but by uploading the smallest image file size possible, you’ll at least be setting off on the right foot to the fastest site possible.

Then there’s the issue of disk space savings, which is especially important when using flash drives which are still expensive.

The bottom line is, keeping your JPEG sizes as small as possible can end up saving you time and money in the long run.

Lightroom on laptop

Optimal Lightroom JPEG Export Quality

Since I came across the fantastic image compression software JPEGMini last year (see my review here), I thought my JPEG sizes couldn’t get any smaller.

However, after attending a workshop by Jeff Newsom, I realised I’d been missing out on something important.

Jeff brought our attention to the fact that by exporting at the Lightroom default JPEG export quality of 75 (he uses 76 “just to be safe!”), allows for a photo that looks identical to one exported at a quality of 100, but is about one third the size!

Lightroom Export Best JPEG Quality Setting

Since then I’ve done some research, and found that not only is this information spot on, but it’s also very well documented on the net.

Despite being somewhat dated, the best article on this topic I found is here by Jeffrey Friedl, a former consultant to Adobe.

The author goes into extensive detail with his comparisons, concluding that:

“The Lightroom default JPEG export quality of 75, falling in the 70〜76 range, seems to provide for as good a visible result as the highest quality setting… 

The file size, even at this relatively high 70〜76 setting, is still about one third that of the 93〜100 setting, so is well worth it in most situations. Those who blindly use the maximum setting for their exports likely waste a lot of local disk space, upload bandwidth, and remote storage space.”

JPEGmini_Pro Export experiment

The Ultimate JPEG Compression Technique?

Following on from this, I was interested to investigate whether running a file exported from Lightroom at a quality of 76 through JPEGMini would yield further size savings.

Would the file start degrading in quality? Or would the experiment yield no savings in size whatsoever?

For the results which may surprise you, watch the video below!

If you’d like to download the images mentioned in the video for your own examination, I’ve put them in a Google Drive for you here. (You’ll have to watch the video to understand the file naming convention I used.) I’d recommend you watch the video in HD so you can see the quality of the images better.

If you have any further tips about shaving down the file size of JPEGs to help speed up your website, leave us a comment, and be sure to share this tip with your friends. Let’s all learn together ;-)

 

  • hahahah

    cracking me up…you are having to do this with Harry on your knee. I recognise that!! have had to edit an entire wedding with one hand whilst the other hand is preventing a toddler from bashing the keys lol. This DOES NOT help workflow speed ;)

    Great tips…hjowever, I sharpen in PS post LR export…wondering whether it would impact my sharpening….Will have to test ..

    Cheers mark

    • haha you feel my pain eh Greg! At least he prevents me from whaffling too much… I can’t imagine doing a whole wedding like you though – respect!

  • I think 75% quality is a start but there are other factors just as important. The best performance improvement is having your site’s images hosted and delivered from a content delivery network (CDN). I’m currently using Amazon because it’s cheap and easy to configure with my caching plugin W3 Total Cache.

    A caching plugin like this is also critical to reducing page load times.

    In the next week I’m going to test image optimization plugins like Smushit to reduce my file sizes further. It will optimize images on demand and at import.

    • Very true Matt. There’s much more to speeding up your website including CDNs and compression plugins. I’d recommend EWW over Smushit. In this post, I was just suggesting the easiest method that anyone who owns LR or PS can do immediately and for free!

  • if one has to purchase Lightroom first, to get this compression or reduction, it is not exactly free is it ?