(+) Are Your Digital Photos Too Big? There’s a Solution!

The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman. 

I recently purchased a new digital camera that can create pictures of up to 12-megapixels. I love the quality of the photographs this camera gives. However, storing and sharing 12-megapixel images creates a few problems.

First of all, the file sizes are huge. Most of the pictures I take consume megabytes of disk space to store a single image. The 12-megapixel files are too large to use a single standard floppy disk just to store one picture! (Does anyone still use floppy disks anymore?) Of course, there are no film developing costs; so, I click the shutter many, many times in hopes of obtaining the perfect picture. I may not save all of the photos, but I often keep two or three variations of everything I photograph. The result consumes many megabytes of disk space.

Disk space is no longer much of an issue these days. Hard drives have become so cheap that we can almost ignore those problems. If your present computer’s disk drive is nearly full, you can purchase a four-terabyte USB plug-in drive for about $90 or so. (See https://amzn.to/2oV5dfy for just one example; there are many more.) Smaller hard drives are available for even less money. You can take any of these USB drives home, plug it in, and start using it within a minute or two.

Even though storage space is no longer an issue, the huge file sizes become an issue elsewhere. If I upload one of them to a web page, the result is a huge picture that more than fills the viewer’s screen and takes a long time to download. I often take pictures at the genealogy conferences I attend and upload them to this newsletter’s web site. If I were to upload an 8-megapixel photo and you tried to view it on a slow Internet connection, you might be sitting there a long time, waiting for the image to download. Even worse, the picture’s native resolution may be several times bigger than your computer screen. You don’t want to download a picture of a group of people when all you can see is a close-up shot of some person’s eyebrow! To be sure, there are ways around that in the HTML language used for web pages, but that does not solve the problem of huge files and slow download times. Web pages should always use moderate-size images.

Next, sending pictures by e-mail is a problem, especially if you want to send a lot of pictures. First, many Internet providers block attached files that total more than one megabyte or ten megabytes or some other arbitrary limitation. A little math exercise tells me that I cannot send a dozen large photos taken at the family reunion.

The file size problem becomes much worse when sending lots of photos. If I want to send a bunch of family photos to my sister in Maine, she may have to wait for an hour or more for those photos to download via her slow Internet connection. In her case, I suspect she would be quite happy with a much smaller image if the picture quality is still reasonable.

Perhaps you need to upload a smaller version of a photograph to Facebook. (Facebook will resize photos for you automatically but doesn’t do a very good job of it. The images will look better if you resize them yourself manually, then upload the newly-created image to Facebook.)

Indeed, I can make the pictures smaller and then save them in a highly compressed JPG format if I have the right software tools available. The result will be photographs of only a few hundred kilobytes. If I can compress and resize the pictures appropriately, they become a very reasonable size for sending in e-mail messages or for use on web pages.

For Windows and Macintosh users, there are free and easy solutions.

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