Super squishy commercial photos

Commercial photos, what level of squish is acceptable?

I was experimenting with JPEG optimisation levels to see how much I could squish a file without degrading the quality too much. When I shoot commercial photos, more often than not the client wants the images uploaded to Dropbox (or similar) for quick access. After about an hour playing with settings and squinting at my monitor, pixel-peeping for compression artefacts I decided to have a look around the web, to see what other people had concluded was a good compression level.

That’s when I hit upon an application called ImageOptim. While it only has a desktop application for Mac computers, it does offer a web interface for Windows users. And the best part is, it’s free! Although you can donate to help future development (which I did without hesitation once I’d seen the results).

By activating “Enable lossy minification” in the Quality settings and choosing a level of 90% I’m only able to see the tiniest of changes (viewing at 200%) between a JPEG saved from Photoshop and one compressed by ImageOptim. Yet on all the files I’ve tested so far I get around a 30-60% reduction in file size!

A commercial photo exported using Photoshop, it's 2.9MB in size

Straight from NEF in Lightroom to Photoshop. Text added and then saved at JPEG 11, 300ppi, sRGB profile embedded and with baseline optimisation. Result – 2.9MB.

A commercial photo exported using Photoshop and then run through ImageOptim, it's only 1.1MB in size and virtually identical to look at

Exactly the same process as the Photoshop file only this time I ran the JPEG through ImageOptim with the option to keep all metadata and the lossy minification set to 90%. Result – 1.1MB, a 60% reduction in file size.

Kornell Lesiński, the creator of ImageOptim offers it free from this location; https://imageoptim.com/mac. There are a few unscrupulous people out there who are simply tweaking the look of ImageOptim and then reselling it, I suggest you only download it from the above link to make sure you’re getting the real thing.

Integration into your workflow

If you use a Mac and Lightroom you can build ImageOptim straight into your processing workflow. Simply scroll to the bottom of the export window in Lightroom, then click on the down arrow in the Post Processing section. Next choose the After Export dropdown and select the Open In Another Application option. Head to your Applications folder on your Mac and select ImageOptim.app. Like this…

ImageOptim-in-Lightroom

Once you export a file Lightroom it will now pass the file straight on to ImageOptim which will then optimise the file and re-save it over the original 🙂

Happy squishing!

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