Preserving Image Quality

by JL Beeken on 9-07-2013

Besides scanning originals using best practices, the other way to preserve image quality is to not make it any worse.

I’m speaking of the JPGs we download from various online databases, family trees, photo-sharing sites, etc.

Cuz just sent me another Legacy file of a line she’s been working on. Since we share the MRIN Filing System now I also got a folder of 45 MRIN folders to go along with it. Census records, death certificates, photos, newspaper clippings, etc.

Before I add these to my own files I put them through their paces. That includes changing the file-names to suit my liking, adding metadata, and just generally cleaning them up.

The first thing I do is convert all those JPGs to TIFFs. This doesn’t improve the existing image quality but, in the case of future editing, it stops them from getting worse.

You can edit and re-save a TIFF as many times as you want to and the quality doesn’t change. And, generally, there’s a little bit of editing to do. Straightening, cropping, color-correcting.

If I start with the original JPG, edit and re-save I’ve further compromised the quality of the image. As we know, a lot of census records are bad enough already.

The easiest thing to do is convert the whole works to TIFF right out of the gate and then I don’t have to think about it again.

Converting Images to TIFF

For this, I use XnView. If I go to the folder that contains all the other folders and click Show all files (recursive) the files will all appear in the image browser.

XnView, Show all files (recursive)

Then I sort the list by Type so the JPGs line up together.

XnView, Sort By Type

I select all the JPGs, right-click and choose Convert into/TIFF.

Convert Image Format, XnView

This creates another set of images as TIFFs rather than replacing the JPGs. Then I delete the JPGs.

Problem solved. From here out I’m only working with TIFFs.

Renaming Images

In this process, XnView adds ‘_1′ to the end of all the file-names. It’s not necessary but, I suppose, just as a precaution so it doesn’t overwrite any other files.

In order to remove this, I use Bulk Rename Utility. I browse to the folder, select to show the sub-folders, select all the files and enter this —

Remove, Bulk Rename Utility

— and click the Rename button. In less than ten minutes, 300 images have their quality frozen in time and they’re ready for whatever comes next.

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