Join Seán Duggan for an in-depth discussion in this video Compression, photo size, and storage, part of Google Photos: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques.
- Google Photos can back up potentially an entire lifetime's worth of digital photo memories. Whether those photos are coming from your mobile devices, or your desktop computer, the images are being backed up to Google's cloud. Now whenever you're using a cloud based service to back up large quantities of image data you have to be keeping two things in mind. The first is storage. How much do I have and what is it costing me? The next is compression. What exactly is happening to those pixels once the images are backed up? Let's take a closer look at that.
So, if you come to your home page here in Google Photos, at photos.google.com, you can come up to the menu button, up in the upper left and come down and choose settings, and here you can see what the settings are for this computer. And notice is says upload size for photos and videos uploaded on the web only. So what that refers to is that these particular upload settings pertain to this device, and that's separate from the upload settings that I have set on my phone.
So the upload settings and the image quality settings apply on a per device basis. So by default high quality is going to be selected here, and again that's free unlimited storage. It does reduce the file size. Or you can choose original. Now, what I typically do is I'll choose high quality for my mobile devices, and I'll choose original for my computer because that allows me to also upload RAW files. Now, with the high quality setting, you are limited to images that are 16 megapixels or lower in size.
Any images that are larger than 16 megapixels will be scaled down to 16, and a little bit of compression will be applied. So you might ask yourself, well, what does that compression doing to the image? How does it look? Is it really high quality? Well, the answer is yes, it is. Let's take a look. So I have a web gallery here created in Google Photos, of some compression tests and I tried to choose images that had a lot of good detail information in them. So, if we click on some of these, and look at them, you know, they look great.
Fine detail, looks just like the original. But, let's take a closer look at that. So I'm going to come down to Photoshop here, and I have some comparisons of the original JPEG images that I uploaded and these JPEGs were saved at maximum quality possible from the original RAW files, and the images that Google compressed that I then redownloaded. So with these four images here, the image on the left side is the original one, and the image on the right side is the one that was compressed by Google.
And as I look at these, I cannot really tell any difference at all. I've zoomed in close. I can't see any difference. Obviously there's a difference in size. The images are slightly smaller because these originals were larger than 16 megapixels when I uploaded them, and the high quality setting of course limits me to only 16 megapixels. But other than that, I can't see any difference. They look great. So in terms of how this quality compression affects file size, let's take a look at that. Just going to minimize Photoshop here. So what I did was I uploaded nine images that I exported from Lightroom from the original RAW files.
These were exported at maximum JPEG quality. And those nine images yielded a folder that was about 122 megabytes in size. I then redownloaded the images that Google Photos had compressed using the high quality setting, and that same group of nine images yielded a folder size of 22.2 megabytes. So you can see, that is a huge savings in file size with no real discernible difference in the quality of the image comparing the original high quality version with the one that Google compressed.
So based on these sorts of tests that I've run, I have no qualms at all about using the high quality option for the images that I upload to Google Photos from my mobile device.
- Setting up Google Photos on your mobile device and computer
- Using Google Photos with Google Drive and Adobe Lightroom
- Working with the three views: Assistant, Photos, and Albums
- Sharing images and albums
- Downloading and managing shared links
- Snapseed integration with Android and iOS
- Working with animations and movies