I've heard from a bird that when you save in JPEG, you will always have terrible quality photos. But, I frequently see photographers post amazing photography on the web. I shoot in RAW, edit my photos, then save as JPEG and my photo looks very washed out, loses warm colors, etc. How can I save my photos for web-viewing without it looking awful?

  • 1
    Welcome to GD.SE!! JPG is the proper format. And Save For Web is the proper tool to use. If your colors aren't correct you may want to look at color management on your system.
    – Scott
    Feb 28 '13 at 21:12
  • the "safe for web" dialogue lets you preview and compare the outcome.
    – tim human
    Mar 1 '13 at 11:33

You can't guarantee on the web that anyone else's screen will be properly calibrated, so worrying about the colours varying isn't going to get you far.

As to formats, JPEG works very well but make sure not to crank the quality down too low or you'll get a lot of artifacting. High quality JPEG images are quite acceptable to most people visually.

If you're creating smaller icons and don't want the compression artifacts from JPEG, try saving the same image in PNG format which is lossless and almost universally supported as well and check the file size. In some cases, it will be unacceptably large but it may also be worthwhile in others.


The method you use for saving your files will vary depending on the software you use to process your photographs. I take photographs using Canon EOS cameras and capture them in RAW mode with Adobe RGB color and I process them using Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

For publishing on the Internet DPI is not important, instead I focus on producing photographs that are sharp and high-ish contrast. I use Lightroom to output JPGs in the sRGB colorspace at full size for uploading to my SmugMug website and sometimes at smaller sizes for Facebook and Flickr.

My SmugMug site sells prints up to 30x40 inches so those JPGs are very lightly compressed and may be up to 10MB each while the Facebook and Flickr photos are reduced to 1000 or 2000 pixels on their longest side and compressed with a setting of 70 percent or so for files that are only 600k or so in size.

But on screen the highly compressed images on Facebook and Flickr do not differ much when viewed by the average person on a typical computer.

The real danger of JPG and any lossy file format is opening the JPG up in an editor and making changes to it then saving it again, then doing that multiple times. Every time the image is opened, edited and saved quality is lost and the lossy compression damages the image more and more.

In short, shoot in RAW at the highest widest colorspace available, only edit the image once, and save as JPG with the least amount of compression necessary for how the photo will be used.

  • its all there in your answer, but to be explicit: JPEG quality degradation (aka terrible quality )is from too-high a compression setting. If the OP wants to avoid this, the OP should not go below 75 (+/-) depending on the subject. Regarding color fidelity: sRGB in your answer is the part the OP may be interested in. RAW is good because it is what the camera sensor sees without lossy compressions and without any color adjustment (this may be technically incorrect, but close enough). They are like the original negatives.
    – horatio
    Mar 1 '13 at 14:54

Jpeg: Relatively small file size but a large amount of compression. One trick is to go to image -> image size -> and change image resolution to 72 pixels/inch. This will maximize the quality for file size output. If you were printing the photo resolution should be at best 300ppi to 100ppi, 300 being optimal and equal to the raw file you're familiar with.

Png: Best option in my opinion. Has no compression and relatively small file size. Best bang for your buck. Was designed to replace gif. File format therefore made for the web.

Tiff: Has large file size no compression. Good for archiving your shots.

Tga or targa: Has large file size and no compression but works best with video or film. Such as a timelapse or rendering out an animation from a 3d program.

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    pngs have compression and the format wasn't "designed to replace" anything. It merely took web browsers a few years to support the PNG format. TIFF has compression. TGA and Targ have compression. The differences is lossy vs. lossless compression, but most image formats have some form of internal compression.
    – Scott
    Mar 1 '13 at 4:45
  • Welcome to SE and thanks for your answer! While some advice from your answer is roughly right, there seems to be a bit factual incorrectness about details (file formats you said have "no compression" have "relatively less compression". Your recommendations as such are good, tiff for archiving in particular - but if possible, keeping the RAW shots beats it all, imo.
    – kontur
    Mar 1 '13 at 9:28

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