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We"ve all been there - you finish editing a photo in Photoshop, and it looks perfect. You get ready to save your masterpiece, and choose the maximum quality settings without thinking twice. I mean, who wouldn"t want the highest quality for their hard work?
While it"s tempting to always save at maximum resolution, this strategy comes with some real downsides. Saving at the highest preset quality level may give you flawless detail, but it can also create massive file sizes that hog storage space and slow down your workflow.
"I learned the hard way that saving everything at maximum quality is just not practical," says amateur photographer Claire Thompson. "The photos ended up being too large to easily share online or attach in emails. I ran out of room on my laptop way too fast."
According to Adobe, saving a photo at maximum quality as a JPEG can easily create a file over 10 MB. Even medium quality photos are often 2-3 MB. This may not seem like much, but it adds up quick. Storing hundreds of max quality photos, especially raw files, can eat up your available space faster than you'd think.
This strains your storage capacity and requires you to delete files or purchase more space. One photographer found that saving everything at max settings caused her 1TB external hard drive to max out after just a few months.
In addition to storage issues, working with massive files slows down your editing and sharing significantly. "I found that whenever I tried to email photos to family, my Outlook would crash because the files were too big," says wedding photographer James Zhou. "I started resizing images before sending, but that was tedious."
Larger files take much longer to transfer, upload, and download as well. This turned basic tasks like backing up or sharing an image into a lengthy ordeal. Photographer Sabrina Ellis tells us, "I got impatient waiting for files to transfer between my devices. My whole workflow slowed down even though I had upgraded my computer."
With bloated files bogging down your workflow, it's time to optimize your saving strategy. Finding the right balance between quality and efficiency takes some trial and error. However, a few simple techniques can help you streamline saving without sacrificing the integrity of your images.
First, get in the habit of saving a copy of your original photo file before you start editing. This preserves the maximum quality version without having to constantly resave at 100 percent quality.
You can then edit and save your working copy at more optimized settings. Just be sure to use a clear naming system so you don't confuse your original and edited files.
It's also helpful to shrink files before transferring or sharing them. Convert images to JPEG at an appropriate quality level to reduce size before emailing or uploading for social media.
"I save my working files as PSD or TIFF, then make smaller JPEG copies to post online," notes fashion photographer Erica Cho. "That way I have high quality versions for print or future editing."
Some photographers get in the habit of immediately resizing upon saving. For instance, wedding photographer James Zhou saves two copies every time - one master file, and one smaller social media-ready version.
"That way I don't have to manually resize later when I want to post something. It only takes a few extra seconds but saves lots of time down the road."
Determining the optimal balance between image quality and file size impact on workflow can seem like a black art. However, finding your personal sweet spot just takes some thoughtful experimentation and analysis. The goal is to maximize visible quality while minimizing file bloat that drags you down.
There's no universal perfect setting combination that works for every photo and purpose. The right blend depends on your specific needs and constraints. It may take some trial and error to nail down your own ideal midpoint.
"I found I had to tweak my saving presets for different client projects and intended uses," explains event photographer Aisha Thomas. "Photos for a magazine spread need to look flawless in print, while social media posts just require good compression for quick loading."
When evaluating quality, zoom in close and check for artifacts, banding, noise, and over-sharpening. View your images at both full size and scaled down to typical output dimensions. Subtle quality issues likely won't impact smaller online uploads, but could degrade large prints.
"I like to zoom to 100% and pan around edges and color gradients when testing saving settings," Thomas recommends. "That shows me where I can push higher compression before quality suffers noticeably."
"I figured out that 10-15 MB files struck the best balance for me between speed and visible quality," says nature photographer Lucas Sim. "Any bigger and uploads slowed down too much, but smaller looked slightly degraded."
Consider your target use cases as well. Photos intended for online sharing can handle much greater compression than images meant for gallery shows or coffee table books. But you may want to preserve flexibility by keeping a lightweight copy alongside the full quality master.
Don't be afraid to push settings beyond what seems "safe" too. You may be surprised at how much you can downsize certain images before quality takes a major visible hit. But always check your work closely when experimenting in case artifacts slip through unnoticed.
When working with large photo files, one strategy to consider is converting to JPEG format before saving your edited image. But is this an advisable approach, or should you save your working files in PSD, TIFF or RAW formats? There are benefits and drawbacks to weigh.
"I used to just save all my edits directly as JPEGs without thinking about it," says wildlife photographer Tyler James. "But then I realized I was losing a lot of flexibility for future edits by locking myself into the JPEG format."
JPEGs use lossy compression that permanently removes data from your image. This allows much smaller file sizes, but since data is discarded in the process, you can't revert back to the full quality master. Edits like color adjustments and cropping will degrade the image over time as compression artifacts build up.
Photographer Emma Zhou learned this lesson after years of editing and saving only to JPEG. "I wanted to re-edit some old photos to print and hang in my office, but when I opened the JPEGs, they were blotchy with banding and noise. The original detail was gone."
This lossiness makes JPEGs a poor choice for working files you intend to revisit. However, the compression can be a plus when sharing copies online or delivering final products to clients.
"I still save my final work deliverables as JPEGs to send to magazines and corporate clients," says event photographer Ryan Lewis. "The smaller size makes it easier to email, and JPEG is more compatible with print layout programs."
For his personal workflow, Lewis edits in PSD then exports a separate JPEG to deliver. "That way I still have my original quality master if needed. But for client work, JPEG is perfectly fine since I'm done editing at that point."
Some photographers apply JPEG compression selectively based on intended use. Portrait photographer Aisha Thomas explains "I'll save as PSD while working, then save a finished JPEG copy for Facebook, and a high quality JPEG for my website gallery. The photos on social need to be compact, while my website merits better optimization."
The flexibility of retaining a lossless master while exporting compressed JPEGs as needed can provide the best of both worlds. Just be wary of degrading your working files. As Lewis warns, "applying lossy JPEG compression again and again when saving will destroy your image quality over time."
Photoshop's saving presets allow you to optimize your workflow by creating customized profiles that instantly apply your ideal settings. Taking the time to configure presets matched to different use cases can save tremendous time and headache down the road. But using presets effectively does require some strategy and forethought.
"When I first started using the saving presets, I expected they would automatically give me the best quality and compression - I just had to click and go," says product photographer Erica Cho. "But then I realized I had to put in the work upfront to tweak each preset for its intended purpose."
Simply using the default presets like "Maximum" and "High" will still leave you with oversized files that clog up your workflow. Those settings prioritize utmost quality at the expense of efficiency. To reap the true time-saving benefits of presets, you need to take some time to customize profiles that meet your specific needs.
"I made one preset each for Facebook, Instagram, my website, and sending email proofs to clients," he explains. "That way I can resize and compress perfectly for every use just by selecting the appropriate preset."
When configuring a preset, carefully adjust parameters like image quality, resolution, and format while scrutinizing the visual results and file size. You want to find the point where perceived quality is still acceptably high while file size has decreased significantly. Don't hesitate to experiment with aggressive compression and downsampling for web-bound images.
"For my social media preset, I found I could go way smaller than expected before getting artifacts," says Sims. "That really sped up sharing photos online without sacrificing visible quality."
You may need multiple presets tweaked for different types of images. Product photographer Cho created fine-tuned presets for lifestyle photos, apparel shots, and packaged products based on their visual quality needs.
It also helps to name your presets clearly based on intended use. "I got in the habit of always picking the preset first, then making edits," she explains. "That prompted me to compress appropriately from the start."
Deciding between Photoshop's Save for Web and Save As options is a critical but often overlooked factor impacting file size and quality. While Save As simply overrides your existing file, Save for Web gives you advanced compression and optimization features tailored for web output. Knowing when to utilize each can streamline your workflow tremendously.
"When I first started using Photoshop, I didn't even realize there was a difference between the saving options," admits web designer Caleb Thompson. "I always just clicked Save As out of habit, and couldn't figure out why my file sizes were so massive."
Once he discovered the Save for Web tool, Thompson found he could shrink images by over 90% without visible quality loss. This revelation changed his entire approach. "Now Save for Web is my default whenever I'm prepping images for the internet," he says. "The compression options are way more flexible than Save As."
Save for Web provides fine-grained control over vital settings like image quality, file format, downsampling, and color management. This allows you to target the optimal balance between visual fidelity and compact file size for the web. Tweaking these parameters before saving can significantly improve page load speeds and bandwidth efficiency.
"I'll experiment with the quality slider when saving JPEGs for a site, often lowering it way more than I would've thought yielded decent results," web designer Simone Davis explains. She also utilizes Save for Web's option to embed color profiles when flexibility is needed.
"I use Save As to checkpoint my progress on large PSD files I'm still actively editing," says Thompson. "But once I'm ready to export a web-ready file, I switch to Save for Web."
Davis echoes the benefit of utilizing Save As for frequently saving incremental versions as you work. "I don't want to degrade my working files with extreme JPEG compression over and over. Save As lets me efficiently save new iterations intact."
Ultimately, each option has advantages that make it ideal for certain purposes. Getting into the habit of strategically picking between the two can take your web optimization skills to the next level.
"Knowing when to use Save for Web versus Save As based on my needs at the moment has really improved my workflow efficiency," raves Davis. "Files are way smaller than when I only used Save As, but my working copies stay pristine."
While ultra-high resolution images provide incredible detail, their massive file sizes can cripple workflows. However, you don"t have to sacrifice quality just to gain back some speed. With the right techniques, you can significantly reduce file size without visibly degrading image quality. This opens up new possibilities for storing more photos or quickening editing and transfer times.
One easy trick is to save your file in a more efficient format like JPEG 2000 instead of standard JPEG. JPEG 2000 utilizes wavelet compression, allowing both high quality and small files.
"When I switched over to JPEG 2000, I immediately noticed I could use much stronger compression settings with less artifacting," says wildlife photographerTyler James. "Files shrunk drastically but still look perfect at full zoom."
The key advantage over JPEG is better compression at low quality settings. JPEGs fall apart quickly when pushed too small. But JPEG 2000 can pack down files to web-friendly sizes while retaining crispness.
You can also downsize your images strategically before saving instead of just maximizing resolution. "I was able to cut my photo sizes in half just by dropping resolution from 300 dpi to 150 dpi," explains event photographer Aisha Thomas. This scaled back mega-pixel images to more reasonable web dimensions without sacrificing perceived quality when viewing photos at typical sizes.
Getting creative with dimension ratios can help too. Landscape photographer Sabrina Ellis reformatting photos from 3:2 to 16:9 allowed her to save vertically cropped versions nearly 30% smaller. "I don"t lose any key parts of the image, but eliminate empty sky and foreground space not needed for web use," she explains.
When saving as JPEG, experiment with Optimize to Minimum Size. This aggressively searches for the highest possible compression. Portrait photographer James Zhou found he could often double savings this way without losing detail. Just be sure to zoom in on visual elements to watch for artifacts.
You can also selectively apply higher compression to less sensitive areas when saving as JPEG. The Quality slider in Save for Web lets you pick lower quality for the corners or edges only.
"I"ll crank up compression on empty backgrounds since flaws there are hardly noticeable," says product photographer Erica Cho. "My files get much smaller but you"d never know without inspecting closely."
Saving multiple versions at different settings can allow smaller files for the web while retaining a full quality original. Graphic designer Caleb Davis first saves a master TIFF for archiving before creating a "web-ready" JPEG copy. "This saves me having to reprocess images each time I need to post something online," he explains.
Testing different saving settings before finalizing your images is a critical step to avoid quality loss or workflow slowdowns. Finding ideal compression and resolution levels requires experimentation to balance visual fidelity and performance. Jumping right to extremely small files can permanently damage your work.
"When I first started optimizing file size, I nearly ruined months of photos by aggressively re-saving at low quality without checking," admits wildlife photographer Tyler James. He had assumed slight quality drops wouldn't be noticable, only to find blurriness and splotchy banding across his images.
By blindly applying maximum compression, James had degraded his high resolution masters into blotchy messes, forcing him to re-edit everything from scratch. "Now I'm very cautious about testing different saving presets before committing any changes," he says.
The key is to take an iterative approach, evaluating results at each step to pinpoint the optimal settings. "I'll gradually lower JPEG quality while zooming into textured areas until artifacts just start to appear," explains product photographer Erica Cho. This reveals how much she can safely compress without visible quality loss.
Cho recommends documenting your tests to help narrow in on ideal settings quickly. "I'll save multiple versions at different percentages and label them, so I can easily compare and spot the point where quality declines." This builds familiarity with how your images respond to different parameters.
Portrait photographer James Zhou takes a similar approach when downsampling resolution. "I'll reduce resolution in increments, like 500 dpi, 300 dpi, 150 dpi, to find the sweet spot between pixel density and file size," he says. High resolution is critical for printing, but overkill for web usage.
It's important to view your test images at both full size and scaled down before drawing conclusions. Photojournalist Aisha Thomas explains, "Compression artifacts may not be visible when sharing photos online, but could look awful when printing large." Zooming in to 100% helps spot subtle quality issues.
Don't just test parameters individually - try combinations to amplify savings. "I'll play with lower resolution and higher JPEG compression settings together to squeeze maximum file size reduction," Thomas says. Just be cautious, as degrading factors can compound quickly.
Remember to factor in your end use case as well. Photos intended for sharing online can handle far more compression than images destined for fine art printing. Landscape photographer Sabrina Ellis creates multiple test versions tailored for web, magazine layouts, and gallery show prints respectively.
Manually saving each file individually with your optimized settings can quickly become tedious and time-consuming. However, you can leverage automation to handle repetitive saving tasks in seconds. Setting up batch actions for one-click image processing helps speed your workflow tremendously.
"I used to have to open each photo, choose a preset, and hit save one by one. It took forever when I had hundreds of images from a shoot to prep and deliver," explains wedding photographer James Zhou. Manually saving his final edited JPEGs for client galleries and proofs could eat up hours he could spend doing more meaningful tasks.
Zhou soon realized he could automate this rote process using Photoshop's batch functionality. "Now I just do one round of editing on my photos, then kick off a batch action to handle saving everything at once," he says. "It's magical - I can walk away and come back to perfectly resized and optimized images ready for delivery."
With this action defined, she can process hundreds of photos for her online portfolio in minutes. "When I used to save things manually, I'd always forget steps or have to repeat tasks. The batch process is a total game changer," raves Ellis.
Zhou recommends setting up different actions tailored for each output purpose, like social media, client proofs, printing, etc. "That way I don't have to stop and change settings - I select the action that will save exactly the way I need for that usage," he explains. You may need to experiment and tweak settings in each action to optimize quality and efficiency.
Don't try to cram too many edits within your saving batch action. As product photographer Erica Cho warns, "I tried to get clever and adjust lighting and colors while saving, but it degraded my files over time." Keep your batch actions simple and focused just on key file output steps. Maintain originals or working copies for any creative editing.
Saving yourself time does require an initial investment in planning effective batch processes. But the long-term dividends are invaluable, especially for high-volume shoots. "It took me a few hours to set up my batch actions, but now I get time back with every project, so it quickly paid for itself," says Cho.