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

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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.

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...

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.

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!

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

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?

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

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