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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!