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Jeffrey’s “JPEG Export Quality Tester” Lightroom Plugin
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     export-quality-tester-20140418.23.zip
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This plugin allows you to quickly see the results of exporting an image at each of the JPEG quality settings that Lightroom supports.

This plugin works in Lightroom 5, Lightroom 4, Lightroom 3, and Lightroom 2 (though some features may be missing in older versions of Lightroom).

The same download works for both Windows and Mac. See the box to the upper right for the download link (in orange) and installation instructions.

Exporting an image as a JPEG involves a compromise between file size and image quality. With many images, image quality does not increase appreciably with the last few steps in quality, but those last few steps incur a sharp increase in file size. Depending on your needs, you may want to forego the final miniscule smidgen in quality to save a doubling of the file size.

Or, perhaps, not.

In either case, being able to see, explicitly, the specific results with a specific image makes your decision more informed.

Introduction

This plugin is a companion to my detailed writeup:

An Analysis of Lightroom JPEG Export Quality Settings

Please see that writeup for an overview of the meaning of JPEG quality settings within Lightroom.

Here's what this plugin does:

  1. Exports a copy of the image at each of the 13 JPEG quality settings that Lightroom supports.
  2. Exports a lossless TIFF of the image.
  3. Optionally, imports those copies back into Lightroom, making it easy to immediately inspect the results.
  4. Optionally, show in Finder/Explorer the folder where the exported copies were placed, making it easier to immediately inspect the results with an external viewer.
  5. Optionally, display a dialog reporting the sizes of each of the JPEG copies (seen in the opening image above).

Selecting a photo and invoking “File > Plugin Extras > Launch Export Quality Tests” brings up a dialog:

The various copies created by the plugin have filenames indicating their quality. For example, applying this plugin to my master image “JF7_031729.NEF” produces the 14 new image copies:

JF7_031729--lossless.tif
JF7_031729--qual=000-007.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=008-015.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=016-023.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=024-030.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=031-038.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=039-046.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=047-053.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=054-061.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=062-069.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=070-076.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=077-084.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=085-092.jpg
JF7_031729--qual=093-100.jpg

The “filename-base suffix” option lets you ensure unique filenames in case you run the plugin on the same image more than once. For example, you might leave it blank for full-sized copies, but enter “small” when testing the quality on reduced-size copies of the same image, or perhaps “crop” for testing a crop of the image. Running these three examples would produce 42 new images (14 for each of the three), among them these “quality 39 through 46” copies:

JF7_031729--qual=039-046.jpg
JF7_031729small--qual=039-046.jpg
JF7_031729crop--qual=039-046.jpg

Post Processing

After the plugin creates the various copies, you can have them imported back into Lightroom for easy inspection. In Lightroom 3 or later, for even more convenience, they're brought into a collection along with the original:

You can also have a small dialog that reports the various sizes, as seen in the first image at the top of this post.

The post-processing options are disabled if the plugin has not been registered after the six-week trial period. See the next section for information about registering. (Registration is generally free except for a 1-cent PayPal fee.)

Availability

This plugin is distributed as “donationware”. I have chosen to make it available for free — everyone can use it forever, without cost of any kind — but unless registered, its functionality is somewhat reduced after six weeks. Registration is done via PayPal, and if you choose to register, it costs the minimum 1-cent PayPal fee; any amount you'd like to add beyond PayPal's sliding fees as a gift to me is completely optional, and completely appreciated. For details, see my blog post titled Lightroom Plugin Development: Now With Added Encouragement. If you're interested in how I picked up a plugin-development hobby like this, see My Long Path To Lightroom Plugin Development.

Version History
( Update Log via RSS )

20140418.23

Make the revalidation process smoother, especially for folks using Lr5.4 and later.

20131031.22 The export target no longer defaults to the system temp folder... that just ends up being confusing.
20131031.21 Better error message if an image can't be rendered.
20130613.20 Better support for plugin revalidation.
20130611.19 Yet another Lr5 update
20130524.18 Apparently, a recent change broke things on Lr2, which some folks apparently still use.
20130501.17 Update for Lr5
20130412.16 Build system update.
20130328.15 Fix for the registration system.
20130209.14 More build-system maintenance
20130206.13 Tweak for my registration system
20120608.11 Fix an "attempt to perform arithmetic on field" error.
20120526.10

Update to handle the Mac App Store version of Lightroom.

Tweak for Lr4.1RC2.

Enhanced the send-log dialog to hopefully make reports more meaningful to me, yielding, I hope, the ability to respond more sensibly to more reports.

20120330.9 Update to handle 4.1RC
20120309.8 Had broken registrations in Lr2; Update to the debug logging to better track down timing issues that might arise.
20120304.7

More on the march toward Lr4, including upheaval in the code to handle Lightroom APIs being discontinued in Lr4.

20120114.6 More tweaks for Lr4b
20120112.5

Update for Lr4 beta: explain in the plugin manager that the plugin can't be registered in the beta.

20111210.4

Error when invoking the plugin with multiple photos chosen.

Had issues with the registration button sometimes not showing.

When doing a plugin upgrade, offer the ability to flush all the old copies of the plugin.

Added a system-clock check and reports to the user if the system clock is more than a minute out of date. An incorrect system clock can cause problems with various kinds of communication and authentication with some of my plugins, so I've just gone ahead and added this to every plugin.

20110929.3 The new-version check didn't always work correctly. Fixed a build problem that could have caused plugin errors.
20101213.2 Updated “kb” to “kB”. (I've never been able to keep these things straight). Added an option to include the resulting file size in the filename itself.
20101212.1 initial release

Comments so far....

Hi Jeffrey,

happy new year for you and your family.
Once again, great plug-in and so useful. I really need to find so times to go back of my photo things !

A tip for Kb vs KB. “b” is for bits which is the smallest computer unit, thus explains why a small “b”. While “B” is for Bytes, a bigger unit. That’s the only way I’ve found not to mix up. Hope this will help you.

Thank you

— comment by BobCaTT on January 2nd, 2011 at 9:16am JST (3 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

One quick suggestion either for this plugin or another one geared towards optimizing JPEG output: there are a couple of jpeg optimizers out there that allow one to run an optimization on the file’s huffman tables and/or do that while recompressing for a particular target quality level:
jpegoptim: http://www.kokkonen.net/tjko/projects.html

Also, jpegtran will do optimization of entropy encoding and a number of other lossless operations:
http://jpegclub.org/jpegtran/

I’ve found that even without recompressing at a different quality level the coding table optimizations can shave 10-20% off of a file.

I tried the first one on a bunch of blog photos exported from Lightroom, and got an overall reduction of 5%, but some images were reduced by over 12%. I may try to build an export filter that drops these into the export pipeline, but it’d make much more sense for Adobe to have Lightroom generate optimized files in the first place(!) I’ve sent a note asking them to consider it…. —Jeffrey

— comment by James Snyder on January 12th, 2011 at 9:32am JST (3 years, 3 months ago) comment permalink

I’m using your “Run Any Command” plugin to launch jpegoptim.exe during eport / publish. Works perfectly!

— comment by Flavio Tischhauser on September 15th, 2011 at 10:30pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey

When I tried to update to version 20110929.3 a popup says “the automatic upgrade fonctionnality works only when the plugin folder name remains at its original, “export-tester-jfriedl.lrplugin””

but the original name of the folder is “export-quality-tester-jfriedl.lrplugin”

Thanks

This was a bug in the old version, sorry. Once you do a manual update to .3 or later, automatic updates should work. —Jeffrey

— comment by Florent Bouckenooghe on September 30th, 2011 at 3:47pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

It would be great if this plugin generated a web page with the ‘hover’ links for each quality value similar to your article. Understanding that many images are in excess of the available screen resolution, maybe a user selectable resolution that leads to a ‘center crop’ at 100%.

— comment by Brian on November 11th, 2012 at 11:22am JST (1 year, 5 months ago) comment permalink

I used James Snyder’s suggestion as an excuse to start playing around with the Lightroom SDK and wrote an export filter that does the jpeg optimization. Not that there is a real reason for it to exist (see my previous post), but if anyone prefers check boxes instead of command lines you can click on my name below (it’s free and open source) and give it a try. The plugin only works on Windows for now, since I’m not in possession of a Mac to compile the included tools.

Kind regards from Switzerland and thanks for your great plugins!

— comment by Flavio Tischhauser on January 11th, 2013 at 6:27pm JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink

Thank you for this pluging.
We don’t always know how correctly export an image. What’s more the size dosn’t always mean something when for exemple your picture is all most of the same color.
This will be usefull !
Alex

— comment by Alex on January 22nd, 2013 at 8:11am JST (1 year, 3 months ago) comment permalink
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