The Independent JPEG Group at the Leipzig Institute for Applied Informatics, which is responsible for defining the JPEG standard, has just released version 9.1 of the ‘libjpeg’ library. The updated software library now supports color depths of up to 12-bit for JPEG images, although these will probably not be supported by most mainstream softwares or camera makers any time soon. However, the press release states that the update may prove useful for professional applications such as printing or output on displays or projectors with a wide color gamut.
Additionally, the latest version of libjpeg supports new scaling functions as well as new compression options, including completely lossless compression. This part is especially interesting for photographers, as it means that the JPEG file format can now be used as an alternative to both raw and TIFF files for archiving images. For future versions of libjpeg, the IJG promises the support of HDR, though the press release does not mention anything specifically.
It’s good to see that the JPEG standard, which was first introduced 23 years ago in 1991, is still being updated continuously, despite its age. Considering that the file format is used in so many applications, photographic and otherwise, it’s safe to assume that the standard will remain relevant for a long time.