The Relentless Increase of Image File Sizes

A couple of days ago we walked along the near deserted beach between Seaton Sluice and Blyth, bathed in crisp winter sunshine.

I had the Sony NEX in my pocket and returned home with 29 (nondescript?) images, mostly of beach huts and gentle waves breaking the shoreline.

Winter Beach

I processed the RAW files and selected some 14 for further work using layers in Photoshop.

Following my now standard routine for saving and back-up, I was shocked to see that the folder containg these few images was 1.8Gb in size.

The 29 original RAW images made up 0.5Gb (about 17Mb each) and the 14 Photoshop files (PSD) comprised the remaining 1.2Gb.This averages some 85Mb for each processed image comprising 2 layers, from the original single layer PSD file of 40Mb.

Beach Huts-2

My computer “upbringing” harks back to the days, not that long ago, when the hard drive in a shiny new PC was 100Gb. So I’ve struggled to come to terms with the fact that my current internal 1Tb drive was nearly full, and that my backup routine has required the purchase of two (thankfully cheap) 2Tb external drives.

Am I doing something wrong? How are you coping with image file storage?


2 responses to “The Relentless Increase of Image File Sizes

  1. And I still have customers who want to use a floppy disk to backup with!
    1.44MB max space for those of you who’ve never used one….
    If you want to save the raw files – much better if you plan to work on the images at some time in the future – you can’t get round the space issue. Try deleting the raw versions of the poorer photos and keep the jpegs to save some space or compress the raw folders with something like pkzip. Don’t bother doing this with jpegs though as they’re already compressed.
    Of course, as Gary says, large hard drives are cheap so maybe the answer is not to bother wasting your time and just back everything up. Most backup software will compress files during the backup process so a good routine may be to compress raw files but not jpegs during an automatic backup onto an external disk. We use Fbackup – free software which can manage all of these options. (Not sure it’s available for Mac users though.)

  2. I have become very fond of the ‘delete’ key. If you use a 5 star rating system and cannot give an image at least 4 stars then delete it. Pictures of children, grandchildren, and other relatives are exceptions to this rule. If we are really honest with ourselves only about 10-12% of what we shoot is worth keeping if we are lucky.

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