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What is a JPF file and how do you use it?

Published By: The Design Weblog (Weblogs, Inc./AOL)
Credit: Byline

What is a .JPF file?

JPF is the file ex­ten­sion for a JPEG 2000 file, which, at its most ba­sic, is the next gen­er­a­tion of JPEG (aka JPG).

The JPEG file for­mat was cre­at­ed in the Nineties by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (see the sym­me­try here?). JPEG 2000, al­so cre­at­ed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, is the suc­ces­sor to everyone’s fa­vorite dig­i­tal cam­era file format.

Why JPEG 2000?

Why do we need JPEG 2000 if JPEG is the stan­dard for dig­i­tal cam­eras, pho­tos on­line, and a mil­lion oth­er things? Actually, the an­swer is pret­ty sim­ple: JPEG doesn’t cut it. The on­ly rea­son JPEG be­came a stan­dard for any­thing is be­cause noth­ing bet­ter existed.

JPEG is a lossy for­mat, mean­ing that, to com­press JPEG im­ages, pix­el da­ta is thrown away. Every time a JPEG file is saved, more da­ta is thrown away, and the im­age de­grades more. When a dig­i­tal cam­era cre­ates a JPEG file it los­es qual­i­ty. When the camera’s JPEG file is opened in an im­age ed­i­tor, touched up, and re­saved, it los­es more qual­i­ty. And so on and so on.

The JPEG file for­mat al­so doesn’t do much be­yond store pix­els. Originally de­vised a decade ago sole­ly as a for­mat for long-term archival of pho­tographs, JPEG doesn’t an­swer mod­ern im­age for­mat re­quire­ments like trans­paren­cy, meta-data, and col­or management.

Enter JPEG 2000, which is a loss­less com­pres­sion method–image qual­i­ty is not sac­ri­ficed for the sake of a small­er im­age. JPEG 2000 al­so sup­ports trans­paren­cy, and not the 1-bit on-or-off col­or hid­ing of GIFs; re­al al­pha chan­nel transparency–including par­tial­ly trans­par­ent ar­eas. Clipping paths, which knock­out ar­eas of the im­age (e.g. a white back­ground) are al­so sup­port­ed, for com­pat­i­bil­i­ty with sys­tems that do not sup­port al­pha chan­nel transparency.

JPEG is lim­it­ed strict­ly to the RGB col­or space, but JPEG 2000 can be in RGB, CMYK, or even Grayscale. It sup­ports 8-bit and 16-bit col­or, al­pha chan­nels, and even spot col­or chan­nels. ICC col­or pro­files may be em­bed­ded in JPEG 2000 files, en­abling their use in col­or man­aged work­flows and print. It can al­so con­tain XML-compliant meta­da­ta, which en­ables the im­ages to cat­a­loged, in­dexed, and man­aged by as­set man­age­ment systems.

How do you use a .JPF file?

Support for JPEG 2000 is grow­ing, but edit­ing is, as of this writ­ing, on­ly sup­port­ed in top-of-the-line de­sign ap­pli­ca­tions like Photoshop CS or CS 2.0. But even Photoshop CS re­quires a plu­g­in to open or save .JPF files. Fortunately the plug-in is pro­vid­ed free on the Photoshop CS or Creative Suite CD.

To use JPEG 2000 files in Photoshop, you must in­stall the plug-in man­u­al­ly; it does not in­stall with Photshop.

If you own Photoshop as part of Creative Suite, the JPEG2000.8bi plug-in will be on the Adobe Creative Suite Resources and Extras 1 CD-ROM in the Goodies/Photoshop CS/Optional Plug-Ins/Photoshop Only/File Formats folder.

If you have Photoshop CS CD-ROM that is not part of Creative Suite, the plug-in will be in the Goodies/Optional Plug-Ins/Photoshop Only/File Formats folder.

Close Photoshop. Copy the JPEG2000.8bi plug-in to the Applications/Photoshop CS/Plug-Ins/Adobe Photoshop Only/File Formats fold­er on your Mac OS X hard disk, or, on Windows, to the Program Files/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS/Plug-Ins/Adobe Photoshop Only/File Formats fold­er. Upon re-launching Photoshop, will now be able to open and save JPEG 2000 .JPF files.

It may be nec­es­sary to as­so­ciate .JPF files to Photoshop to en­able open­ing them via double-clicking the files out­side of Photoshop. Consult your op­er­at­ing system’s doc­u­men­ta­tion for in­struc­tions on as­so­ci­at­ing file types to applications.

JPEG 2000 is the fu­ture of dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy and of on­line pho­tographs. Its adop­tion is slow–very few browsers will cur­rent­ly dis­play the two cur­rent vari­a­tions of JPEG 2000 files, but more and more are adopt­ing the tech­nol­o­gy. It will one day re­place JPEG.

In the mean­time, take ad­van­tage of its new fea­tures where you can!