Monday, January 20, 2014

Shrink those images!

As the megapixel count of cameras goes up and up, with even the cheapest camera phones cranking out multi-megabyte images, it is more important than ever to reduce the size of those images before sending them. We now routinely receive emails asking us to help identify pens, with photo attachments totalling 10Mb and more. In nearly all cases these are deleted unread.

Harsh? Attachments of this size take considerable time to download, especially when on the road. And if you are asking for free advice, clogging up your correspondent's inbox might not be the best approach.

So what to do? First, crop out unnecessary background. That will usually reduce image file size by a good 70-80%. If you are using a phone or tablet camera, cropping is normally a built-in image processing option. On a computer, you can crop using the most basic image tools included with the operating system (Paint or iPhoto). Free apps are an alternative for both. Next, resize the cropped image. Again, there are multiple free apps that make this dead simple (e.g. Image Shrink Lite for Android, Simple Resize for iPhone and iPad) and there are websites that will do this for you as well (some Google search results here and here).

To give you an idea of how bloated most images are, nearly all of our larger catalog close-ups are under 50Kb -- that's one-twentieth of a megabyte -- yet are much crisper and more detailed than the multi-megabyte files we routinely receive.

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