Hello I’m Gordon from Cameralabs and I’m right here to speak a few long-overdue alternative for JPEG. It’s the Excessive Effectivity Picture Format, HEIF, or HIF for brief, which can not sound significantly catchy, however due to a lot newer compression it may possibly match or exceed the standard of JPEG in much less house, permitting you to squeeze extra images into your reminiscence and with probably higher high quality too. What’s to not like?

In case you’re getting a way of deju-vu although, it’s as a result of HEIF is already employed by a few of the hottest cameras on the planet – it’s been out there on iPhones since iOS 11 was launched in 2017, albeit with a barely totally different identify, however amazingly not one of the devoted digital camera firms have shared Apple’s enthusiasm for it – till early 2020 when Canon determined to hitch the occasion and provide HEIF on its flagship EOS 1Dx Mark III.




I had an early likelihood to check out the 1Dx Mark III and was significantly to make a bunch of JPEG vs HEIF comparisons and likewise see how Canon’s really carried out the format, as I’m guessing it’s going to turn into out there on most and even all of their future cameras. I’ve made a video about it under, or preserve scrolling for a written model in case you want!






Above: I’m going to leap proper into Canon’s strategy as there’s already a great deal of backgrounders on HEIF historical past and tech. On the 1Dx Mark III, you need to select whether or not the digital camera information JPEG or HEIF – you possibly can’t report each on the similar time, though no matter you select will also be recorded with a further RAW file if desired. Slightly than provide a easy menu the place you possibly can tick JPEG or HEIF although, Canon forces you to the marginally confusingly titled HDR PQ menu as a substitute. That is the place you possibly can allow HEIF as a substitute of JPEG as your compressed format of selection, in addition to whether or not to prioritise mid or spotlight tones within the processing. As soon as enabled, it successfully replaces JPEG within the different menus as your compressed format, however you possibly can change forwards and backwards everytime you like.



Above: On the 1Dx III, Canon’s utilizing the HIF file extension for this format and It’s additionally attainable to transform them into JPEGs utilizing the digital camera in playback, which in concept might generate a picture with a broader or not less than alternatively tone-mapped dynamic vary than a local JPEG created on the time of seize. This varieties the idea of my subsequent comparisons, though when changing them one by one utilizing the digital camera, I did yearn for a batch conversion possibility.



Above: To check JPEG and HEIF, I took two images of the identical topic moments aside utilizing every format. I then transformed the HEIF file into a brand new JPEG utilizing the digital camera’s playback menu for comparability right here, as Ultimate Minimize couldn’t straight import the HEIF information on the time I made this video. At this level even a few of the functions that might recognise HEIF as a picture format typically displayed them with unusual tone mapping. You may see Adobe Bridge right here previewing the HEIF originals with crushed highlights, whereas Photoshop wouldn’t even open them except I modified their file extension from H.I.F to H.E.I.F or H.E.I.C. Clearly that is doubtless get higher as extra cameras assist HEIF and the format turns into extra established, however proper now for this comparability, the best strategy was to match out-of-camera JPEGs in opposition to JPEGs generated from a HEIF file utilizing the digital camera’s menus. For the reason that authentic HEIF information on the 1Dx Mark III have 10 bits of tonal vary in comparison with Eight on an ordinary JPEG, it permits the digital camera to deal with that broader vary in another way on the time of conversion, probably retaining larger spotlight or shadow element. Earlier than exhibiting you the outcomes, Canon requested me to say these photographs had been shot on pre-production Canon beta pattern fashions, ultimate picture high quality could fluctuate.



Above: Right here’s my first picture of a parked race automobile, and on the left is the unique JPEG out of digital camera, whereas on the suitable is the JPEG generated from the HEIF file. You’ll discover the transformed HEIF file has retained extra spotlight and mid-tones, best-seen on the reflective highway floor and the background surroundings. Curiously I observed the 1Dx III typically metered a shutter velocity one third of an EV slower when set to HEIF, so on this occasion, the HEIF file was captured at 1/1600 versus 1/2000 for the JPEG. This was additionally the case for compositions which matched extra carefully than this one.



Above: My second picture exhibits a panorama with wispy clouds. On the left is the unique JPEG out of digital camera, whereas on the suitable is the JPEG generated from the HEIF file, and once more the 1Dx III metered a barely slower publicity of 1/320 for the HEIF vs 1/400 for the JPEG right here. As I alternate between them you possibly can see the transformed HEIF file has retrieved some spotlight cloud element that’s principally blown-out on the unique JPEG.



Above: In my third instance I’ve gone for a portrait shot which, utilizing the digital camera’s viewfinder metering, has under-exposed the topic a bit in my view; once more although, the HEIF publicity remained one third of an EV slower. On the left is the unique JPEG out of digital camera, whereas on the suitable is the JPEG generated from the HEIF file. The preliminary variations are extra refined than earlier than. There’s not any apparent distinction within the clouds, though the highway floor is rather less saturated. Curiously the most important distinction – to my eyes anyway – is definitely the influence on the blurred transitions within the distance. Look carefully on the mountain ridge and the perimeters of the timber on the suitable and also you’ll see the HEIF model really exhibits a extra sudden transition with the sky, nearly like a stripe or band, which doesn’t look pretty much as good because the smoother transition on the JPEG model to me eyes. This goes in opposition to what I anticipated from the upper dynamic vary of the HEIF authentic, though bear in mind we’re evaluating JPEGs right here.



Above: Within the fourth instance I’ve a dawn for you and once more the most important distinction between the unique JPEG on the left and the transformed HEIF file on the suitable regards the gradation between the saturated photo voltaic disc and the sky round it. The transformed HEIF file blends to an orange color before the JPEG, however is it right or extra fascinating? At this level I’d additionally wish to make one other remark: HEIF typically guarantees the standard of a JPEG with roughly half the file dimension, however in fact the precise file sizes is dependent upon the extent of compression employed by the digital camera. When utilizing the default settings on the 1Dx III, I discovered my authentic HEIF information had been certainly smaller than the unique JPEGs, however solely by about 10% in these examples. Oh and when it comes to publicity, the digital camera broke its behavior up to now and truly metered one third of an EV quicker on the HEIF model right here.



The diploma of compression may be very finely adjustable on the 1Dx III although so there’s loads of alternative to tweak.



Above: Now for my fifth and ultimate instance, this time of the dusky sky following sundown and this time the 1Dx III metered the very same publicity for each information. on the left is the unique JPEG out of digital camera, whereas on the suitable is the JPEG generated from the HEIF file. The most important distinction is the brightness and color of the principle sky space, which appears much less intense consequently. Which variations of the 5 examples I’ve proven you might be your favourites?


Technically talking HEIF needs to be a no brainer because the compressed format to exchange the ageing JPEG. They’re smaller, have the potential to comprise a broader dynamic vary and might also be capable to accommodate some easy non-destructive edits like rotations. As I found on this temporary take a look at although, the actual potential for HEIF is drastically depending on what software program is working with them. On the time of writing, I couldn’t natively work with Canon’s HEIF information in my photograph or video workflow, so I had to make use of the 1Dx III’s built-in converter to generate JPEGs for comparability. As such this primary take a look at is absolutely extra about evaluating two alternative ways a digital camera – and a pre-production one at that – can generate a JPEG picture which clearly received’t present the total advantages of HEIF past tone-mapping it in another way to an 8-bit format.

What shocked me probably the most, particularly since Apple adopted HEIF again in 2017, is simply how little works with them proper now. Canon’s selection to make use of the .HIF extension flummoxed most of my software program; Mac OS wouldn’t even present a thumbnail in Finder except I modified the file extension to .HEIF or .HEIC, whereas frustratingly Photoshop solely opened them in 8-bit, stopping any tonal advantages over JPEG in put up. In fact it’s early days and hopefully larger assist will come, however that’s the place we’re in early 2020.




I additionally discovered an obvious lack of religion disturbing from different digital camera firms – I reached out to lots of them to be met with an unenthusiastic no-comment on future merchandise. Technically talking HEIF depends on the compression of HEVC / H.265, so in concept it could possibly be carried out by cameras which already make use of this format for high-end video – and there’s a number of of them round. Equally I wouldn’t count on it to be added to cameras which don’t already assist H.265 and in Canon’s World, that’s a function that calls for the most recent DIGIC X processor launched – and up to now solely out there – on the 1Dx III. Canon does appear genuinely excited by it although and whereas they’ve not confirmed it, I might personally be shocked if DIGIC X – and assist for HEIF – doesn’t arrive on most and even all future EOS and PowerShot cameras.

Test costs at Amazon, B&H, Adorama, eBay or Wex. Alternatively get your self a duplicate of my In Digital camera guide or deal with me to a espresso! Thanks!

Shop Amazon