Microsoft: Make our HD Photo format a standard

Microsoft plans to submit its HD Photo image format to a standards body in order to establish a higher-quality replacement for today's ubiquitous JPEG standard. The standardization move makes sense, given Microsoft's ambitions, said InfoTrends analyst Ed Lee: "If Microsoft is looking for wider adoption of the format, it needs to be divorced from Microsoft itself. They're going to have to loosen the strings on it." Microsoft has put years of research into HD Photo and knows it has years more work to create a JPEG alternative, even more for a replacement. The company knows it has to convince partners from every corner of the industry, including camera makers and those who build photo printing kiosks. "We know for it to be successful there has to be whole ecosystem," said Rico Malvar, a Microsoft Research director who helped develop the format.

A broader color gamut is one of the advantages Microsoft touts for HD Photo. ("HD" doesn't actually stand for anything, but the company hopes it will connote the "high definition" advantages of HDTV.) Among other HD Photo features:

  • It can store 16 or 32 bits of data for each color, compared with JPEG's 8 bits, making it easier to discern shadow details or the subtle tonal variations of snow in sunlight.
  • It compresses data twice as efficiently as JPEG, with either twice the quality at a given file size or half the file size at a given quality.
  • It's designed to work well in camera image-processing chips, and to reduce memory requirements, it encodes images chunk by chunk without having to store the complete image at one time.
Link: Forum Discussion (Thanks Express)
News source: News.com

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Sony brings it 'Home' for the PS3

Next Story

Turkish court bans YouTube access

41 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

most algorithms you use in audio, video and imaging aren't free as in speech.

what few free/open source codecs there are ou there aren't widely adopted, and are mostly used by small groups of fans(small being somewhat relative but... compared to jpeg usage anythgin is really small, same with MP3)

Freely released/opens ource codecs are rarely adopted by the electornics manufacturers, and that's what counts

Are there are any examples of this new format?.. I would like to see some photos and does Abode software already works with this new format?

I don't have a problem with it, it would be great if it can replace JPEG (it isn't that good), but MS can't threaten to sue people, or even have that possibility of it happening (every patent covering it, needs to have a "no-sue" thing attached to it)

And TIFF was created by Aldus and MS

Hmm... it would only be adopted if Mac OS X and Linux could run it. Remember, the Mac market is a large photographer market, and I use Linux (that's all that matters, I'm that important).

I think one of the posts above said it couldn't be distributed in open-source or semi-open-source projects. That means no Firefox, no Linux, and IIRC, Mac OS X.

sigh.... once again Microsoft tries to dominate a market. Oh well, if only they were to open-source it, maybe it would get big. Sounds like a pretty desperate attempt to stop the rising sales of OSX.

mrmckeb said,
Who said it's Windows only - a 'standard' format would work on any platform, with any package.

aye but if its closed source, it will never be adopted by the open-source community and by OSX. Its not how we roll.

the image decoding libraries in OS X aren't open source, they support stuff like JPEG 2000 and such (so any app's using it for image decoding support the format, e.g. Safari)

The_Decryptor said,
the image decoding libraries in OS X aren't open source, they support stuff like JPEG 2000 and such (so any app's using it for image decoding support the format, e.g. Safari)

Good point, this shows that OSX can support this, and even linux to, it's just a decoder. And all it takes are the big camera makers to start using this and add it to their software, plus Adobe to use it and so on. I think this will take off if the pricing is good.

Its not open source yet because they havn't finnished developing it. They don't want it to have widespread usage when its only half done!

The HD Photo format doesn't have to be on the camera to be useful.

Most professional and intermediate-level photographers use Camera RAW formats (a lossless format). RAW has the unique benefit of allowing post-production in photoshop or lightbox to be completely lossless and reversible. Most photographers love this format.

But the downside of RAW? File sizes are huge. So many people (myself included) make duplicates in JPEG format for easier storage or distribution via email/web. Unfortunately, quality in JPEGs is very degraded, even at 'high quality' settings.

Enter HD Photo... The perfect solution for saving photos, after post-production edits, for storage and distribution. And an added bonus: With the improved quality, these versions will be good enough to print!

So all they have to do is add HD Photo to photoshop and similar programs, and maybe even to scanning software, etc. If licensing for the format is reasonably priced, as it likely will be, then it should win people over in time.

Ya don't see google trying to make their own image format!

And geeze! i was only playing with the spelling of colour

You can't just walk up to someone, insult them in front of their face, then go "just kidding!!"

It's amazing what people do with anonymity...

is the human eye really gonna notice any difference in quality?
fair enough, when its zoomed in at >4x but still, if its gonna take over photo formats, which then should be printed on glossy, I'm certainly not gonna notice the difference between a .jpg and say a .png (or MS's new format) from a 10mp camera.

The current formats work. PERIOD. why try make a better version of something thats already optimum and has 99% usage in the digital image world?


and to be more of a d*ck, you spelt colour wrong.

is the human eye really gonna notice any difference in quality?

When screens that are able to display 16 and 32 bit colour, yes definatly, until then, there are many other benifits of the format. Mainstream cameras can capture raw files that contain 12bits per pixel at the moment, even though some flat panel displays can produce just 4bit colour. The extra lighting data is useful for tweaking a photo, data that isn't there in a standard jpg.

How is jpg optimum if this new format can be half the size at the same jpg equivilent quality? And why make something better? Well, thats a great point, why did we ever move on from using 256 colour gifs?... Think about it

Btw, don't be a child, the American spelling for "colour" is "color" and even people that code a lot of html will be using "color" instead of "colour". So even if this guy is from the UK, it's an understandable mistake. No need to be rude.

But my digital camera takes photos in JPEG (Canon Ixus) ..so I guess you need a "native" HD-quality digicam to get this HD quality photos?

Unless your camera manufacturer were to bring out a firmware update, no, your camera will never support this format. It's unlikely to happen too because they will want to use it as a selling point on new cameras in the future and it's probably not going to become a mainstream format for many years to come with the sound of it (if ever).

Snip from HDPhoto@wiki
Microsoft has patents on the technology in HD Photo, and is offering the "HD Photo Device Porting Kit 1.0" with a license designed to encourage broad adoption in products. However, the license terms specifically prohibit allowing any of their code in open-source products or systems that require sources to be distributed also. :nuts:

So now we know how successful this will be... It might become one of those IE-only supported formats (forget about Firefox or Safari / OS X support)... Maybe Photoshop will support it too, however, with really bad cross-platform compatibility, or even cross-application in case of OSS. I can't believe MS keep doing this mistake, even for stuff they want to be broadly adopted. PNG is a good role model to follow here as for licensing.

JPEGs are lossy and PNGs are bulky. It would be nice to see a new standard, no matter where it comes from.

It's not comparable. PNG is basically lossless, and for photos it results in image sizes not much smaller than an uncompressed bmp.

BMP's are usually uncompressed (with rare exceptions being RLE-encoded 8-bpp BMP's) , so comparing those with PNG's is basically like comparing WAV's with FLAC.

This sounds cool.

Not many people know that there was a JPEG2000 created which improved JPEG compression 2x for the same quality level using a slightly different technology than JPEG.

The drawback of this and the main reason why it hasn't been adopted is imho:
1. Cost for the license. I'm unaware what the cost is but I believe that manufacturers really don't want to have to pay as they have to pass this cost on to users or reduce their profit levels :p
2. JPEG was widely adopted and I guess no one really saw a need to pay for JPEG2000 which was very similar anyways.

In my opinion why should Microsoft not charge for a standard/product they have spent years developing? I would be happy if my Camera cost a dollar more or something like.

I like the idea that this product is 'future-proof' to some extent. The more pertinent question is: are any graphics cards or LCD screens capable of outputting 16 or 32bit per channel (this is 48bit or 96 bit graphics). Are any gfx/LCDs capable of this in the works in the near future? A separate issue which I also find annoying is that not a lot of consumer LCDs support even 4mpx image resolutions ( 2308x1728 ), my 19" 4:3 does 1600x1200 max, so the extra quality that is there is never seen.

I'd also like to know whether this format has support for 'lossless' compression as this would be great for professional photographers.

Also one of the other things that was interesting about JPEG was it's usability on the internet. For instance (i'm not sure of the specifics) but when the image is displayed on a browser you can have it sent first in low quality and then in higher quality so that the user is able to partially see the image without waiting ages, I don't think many people actually use it though. I wonder if HD Photo supports a method like this? I personally would be quite happy seeing a 1mpx image first and then waiting for the 20mpx image to load (you know, it will be like this in a few years ).

I'm keen on having images 50% of the size of current ones, even though Blu-Ray is on the way it's a pain sending photos full-res over the net. At present I constantly resize my photos when sending to friends, granted that can be taken care of with external programs (such as the MS photo powertoy) but it would be nice if MS integrated photo resizing into the GUI, for instance right click (on 50 photos) -> copy/resize to 1024x768 with bicubic resizer.

Are any gfx/LCDs capable of this in the works in the near future?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_light-emitting_diode

http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2007/01/11/so...elops_oled_tvs/

"The bigger screen has the same contrast and brightness as the small model, but it can display colurs defined using ten bits per channel."

Getting there... these are early prototypes. Give it 5-8 years and we'll be needing new formats like this one.

when the image is displayed on a browser you can have it sent first in low quality and then in higher quality so that the user is able to partially see the image without waiting ages

Yes, standard JPGS do support progressive encoding but that was useful in the old days of 56k. Broadband is constantly getting faster, I believe that it will be able to cope with images that we'll be viewing in our browsers by the time we're all using this new format. On the other hand, I doubt we'll be using 20MP displays... even HD screens are only about 6mp at 1080p.... unless we all start getting 200" displays, it shouldn't really be nessesary to have a screen of that res.

I'm keen on having images 50% of the size of current ones, even though Blu-Ray is on the way it's a pain sending photos full-res over the net. At present I constantly resize my photos when sending to friends, granted that can be taken care of with external programs (such as the MS photo powertoy) but it would be nice if MS integrated photo resizing into the GUI, for instance right click (on 50 photos) -> copy/resize to 1024x768 with bicubic resizer.

Hmmm... the new format will allow you to have a high resolution image with equivalant jpg quality at half the FILE SIZE, not half of the image dimentions... just sayin..

In my opinion why should Microsoft not charge for a standard/product they have spent years developing?

Because, as you said yourself, licensing costs cause trouble for good image format adoption rates. JPEG2000 also doesn't use a "slightly different" compression -- it uses a wavelet algorithm designed from scratch.
I'd also like to know whether this format has support for 'lossless' compression as this would be great for professional photographers.

Yes, like JPEG2000, HD Photo has a lossless compression mode.

_MacGyver_ said,
Hmmm... the new format will allow you to have a high resolution image with equivalant jpg quality at half the FILE SIZE, not half of the image dimentions... just sayin..

Sorry lol, the two sentences weren't meant to be read together. /me rewrites

It would be nice to have images of the same dimensions/resolution with 50% reduced filesize as compared to JPEG.

The separate issue I am mentioning (which has scarcely anything to do with the HD photo format) is that file sizes are too large (and thus time consuming to transfer) over some peoples interenet connections already and it would be nice if there was a simple 'resize' function built into the windows explorer GUI or perhaps Cameras that produced resizes alongside the standard size images when the photos are taken for quick transfer to friends