During a recent meeting about the recently announced Canon 1D X Mark III with Digital Camera World, Canon product intelligence specialist David Parry dropped a bombshell:
“We’ve moved on to HEIF files,” Parry said.
While Canon later walked back the statement, claiming that they “have no plans to abandon JPEGs,” but instead wish to “give users a new image option” in the Canon 1D X Mark III, the comment got plenty of people talking. And the reason is clear: If Canon is adopting HEIF files alongside its JPEGs, might we soon see the company scrap JPEGs entirely? And what about Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm, and Olympus?
In other words, does Canon’s move to HEIF files signal the end of JPEGs?
For photographers who have been using JPEGs for decades, this might come as a shock. While HEIF files have been in the media for the past couple of years, ever since Apple added them to their iOS devices and Macs, no major camera manufacturer has adopted HEIF files – until now.
And while some users may dismiss HEIF files as another overhyped “JPEG killer” which will disappear in a few years, there is reason to believe that HEIF files are here to stay.
To understand why, let’s take a closer look at HEIF files and what they offer over JPEGs.
HEIF files vs JPEGs
The biggest difference between HEIF files and JPEGs is their respective file sizes:
JPEGs are small, but HEIF files are tiny.
In fact, HEIF files are often billed as half the size of JPEGs, but with the same (or better) quality. This means that you can store far more HEIF files on a device than you can JPEGs, without a loss in quality.
How is this possible?
Simply put, compression has improved. JPEG files debuted way back in the 1990s, whereas HEIF is a relatively new image file format. So when it comes to compression, what a JPEG can do, a HEIF file can do better.
And this results in smaller files with limited quality loss.
Compression isn’t the only area where HEIF files shine. HEIF files can also store more color information than JPEGs, which means that your HEIF photos will look better, and can avoid the unpleasant color-banding effects that sometimes come with JPEGs.
And what about compatibility? Surely JPEGs are far more established than HEIF files, given their universal popularity?
Back in 2017, when Apple adopted HEIF files, this was a real discussion. Some applications couldn’t deal with HEIF files, and that was a problem.
But now, two years later…
HEIF files can be used by pretty much any program you’d need. The compatibility issues are gone, and we’re left with a file format that just seems all-around superior to JPEGs.
So while JPEGs are the file format of the present and the past, HEIF files are likely the format of the future.
Now I’d like to know your thoughts:
Do you think HEIF files will replace JPEGs? And how do you feel about this change? Share your thoughts in the comments below! And respond to our poll regarding whether you’re happy about the shift to HEIF files: