JPEG versus JPEG 2000


Today’s Question: What is the difference between JPEG 2000 and JPEG, and which would you suggest using? I accidentally saved a photo as a JP2 (JPEG 2000) and couldn’t open it in some programs to look at them. I found out what I had done and saved them as JPEG and was able to open the saved photos.

Tim’s Quick Answer: JPEG 2000 is a file format that was originally intended to replace the JPEG file format, with both having been developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. For a variety of reasons, including intellectual property concerns, the JPEG 2000 format has not achieved broad adoption.

More Detail: The JPEG 2000 file format that employs an image compression algorithm that provides a variety of improvements over the original JPEG standard that was created in 1992. Among other things, the JPEG 2000 file format provides the option of lossless compression, meaning the image quality is not degraded with this compression option. By comparison, the original JPEG format always involves lossy compression, where some image quality degradation will occur even at high quality settings.

While the JPEG 2000 standard represents a number of improvements over the original JPEG standard, there were a variety of intellectual property concerns that resulted in slow adoption of the format. With many software applications not supporting JPEG 2000, naturally many users (including photographers) were not eager to adopt the format.

Adobe Photoshop supports the JPEG 2000 format, but Lightroom Classic does not. In addition, some web browsers do not support JPEG 2000. Due to the lack of broad support for the JPEG 2000 format, I don’t generally recommend using it.

In addition to saving the original capture and any high-quality derivative images, if you were looking to archive copies of photos with a smaller file size, I suggest using the PNG (Portable Network Graphics) format, which is now widely supported and enables you to save files without the lossy compression of the JPEG file format.