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Fig 1: 5k JPEG with Jaggies / Artifacts
Fig 2: 29k High Quality JPEG
JPEG is a Lossy Format: JPEG is a lossy image format. That means
that in exchange for a potentially greatly reduced image file size, it is allowed
to discard some image information. This compression results is 'jaggies' or
'artifacts' in the image, as seen in Figure 1.
JPEG Quality Setting: Be aware that most any program
(and digital camera!) that produces JPEGs allows you to
control the quality setting, so the quality of the JPEGs
you produce is actually under your control.
Examples: In Figure 1, the JPEG is very low quality,
but it uses only 5k of disk/web space. In Figure 2, the
JPEG quality is high, but it uses around 29k of disk/web
space. The tradeoff in quality is easy to see.
In order to produce high quality panoramas, you need to use a high quality JPEG setting.
Recommendations: You should use the highest JPEG
quality setting in your camera, and a very high quality
setting when producing panoramas. You will use more disk
and web space, but with broadband connections relatively
fast now and only getting faster, the only choice for
serious panoramas is to use a high quality JPEG setting.