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

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!

Pariah Burke

Author, consultant, trainer, guru: Digital Publishing, ePub, InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Quark. Empowering, Informing, Connecting Creative Professionals™