Re: Why JPGs for screen captures?

Subject: Re: Why JPGs for screen captures?
From: "Edwin Wurster" <eawurster -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 14:54:15 -0500


Christine wants to know:

*Why* do people use JPGs for screen captures?


Ed's response:

Variables to consider are: file size, color depth and clarity.

A 1024 x 768 capture of my desktop, with a folder open and 32-bit color picture in background:

BMP - 3,073 KB
JPG - 544K
GIF - 62K

Quick observations follow.

BMP retains the most quality. This is what you get if you use the printscreen key. Every pixel is recorded faithfully. The file size reflects this. Real world experience is that you quickly fill up disk space. Additionally, when you import BMP's to various programs, like Word, the document can get out of hand.

With JPG files, you have lost detail that can't be recovered. A certain amount of loss is acceptable, even with screen captures. If you go too far, the extended areas of color in a window, such as white and grey, will begin to fill up with more artifacts. JPG file sizes can be tweaked even lower than above, and you will lose more detail. Viewed at 100% on a monitor, things can be acceptable, but when printed...

GIF does a great job with 8-bit color video. In most of a typical window capture, GIF does better than JPG, but when you get to areas where more color is used, as in many icons, it dithers colors, and you may not like the results.

Finally, the graphic files you capture do not stand still in time. You place them into other programs, which may import and convert them. Add a PDF or HTML export, send the file to another system, and you may wish for a simpler job.


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