Photo albums are absurdly low quality

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by TWLreal, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. TWLreal macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    I'll start with saying I've made a thread somewhat related to this subject almost a year ago: where I was wondering why my photos synced to the iPhone would double in file size when transferred from my computer to the phone.

    Back then, the photo albums on the phone were of acceptable quality so I never tried to push the issue.

    Recently, I would say after 3.0.1 since I don't remember 3.0 having this problem, the photos in my photo albums are of absurdly low quality.

    Here are 3 photos that I've emailed from the phone:




    These are the originals.

    That gradient banding is horrible. And I'm quite sure it didn't used to do this.

    Something else to note, related to my aforementioned thread, the file sizes for the photos from the phone range from 40 to 100 KB. My original files are in the 300 to 500 KB range, saved at maximum quality from Photoshop at 1024*683.

    The originals on my computer weigh in at around 650 MB:


    iTunes optimizing these files inflates the size to 800 MB while making them lower resolution and lower quality.


    So yeah, what the hell?

    Did they change the compression algorithm at some point?

    How are these 40-100 KB files taking up so much space? Unless the phone dynamically saves an even smaller file to email and MMS.

    Can someone try syncing my 3 originals through iPhoto or Aperture and check if those programs handle the optimizing differently?

    • My originals are saved from Photoshop.
    • Photos are synced manually through folders. I don't use iPhoto or Aperture.
    • I've deleted the albums and resynced a few times already.
    • There are 1340 photos on the phone, 211 are from the Camera Roll.
  2. WickedRabbit macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2009
    I have been wondering the same thing. Just transferred a few very high quality wallpapers and when I went to flip through them to see which one I liked I could tell just by looking at the iPhone screen that the photos were horribly compressed and that it was of much lower quality. I know "for sending out" photos I thought I read somewhere that instead of sharing the photo (via the share button) to copy/paste the photo in the email and that will take the full picture, but this does nothing for the fact that iTunes seems to be compressing the photos to much lower quality when transferring them into the phone itself. :mad:
  3. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008
    Hey it's not 'image quality' that is the problem.

    It is 'image subject', those lenses .... you need to get rid of them.

    Send them to me and be rid of the problem! :D

    Just kidding !!!!
  4. TWLreal thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    Yep, the optimizing process in iTunes just destroys the quality.

    And now that I think about it, I know for sure they have increased the compression by a lot since I used to use certain photos as the phone wallpaper and they were pristine, perfect. Now they are horribly blocky and with visible artifacting.

    So again, I don't know if it's just the way I sync the photos or if it's a blatant problem with the iTunes optimization process but the quality is absurd. It didn't used to be like this.
  5. TWLreal thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    Okay… this is strange.

    I've added 2 new photo albums today so I had to resync my entire photo library, because Apple in all their wisdom won't let you simply add new photo albums. No, that would make too much sense. ;)

    Anyway, synced the entire photo library, iTunes optimized the photos, the files are transferred to the phone, done.

    I check the files just to make sure everything's good. Start going through my new albums and notice there is no banding in the gradients but the color range of the new photos was limited so I thought the compression wasn't noticeable here.

    Then I go through my older albums and everything's perfect once again. Gradients are gradients, there is no banding, there is no artifacting.

    I've emailed myself the same photos as my original post:




    There is now some kind of noticeable dithering but this is much, much better than before.

    Nothing was changed in my original files, same version of iTunes 8.2, same syncing method.

    What's up with that?

    Now I guess I'll just resync every time the banding issue appears again. This is really perplexing.
  6. WickedRabbit macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2009
    Haven't tried resyncing any photos in a while, but is it possible that perhaps it was a glitch with iTunes 8.1 and now iTunes 8.2 has fixed the issue? I'm not sure what you sync'd the original photos with, but I know for mine (the horrible image compression) I'm pretty sure I did those in iTunes 8.1

    Nevermind, I see that you pointed out you sync'd both with 8.2. No clue man, just shoddy software from Apple I suppose.
  7. TWLreal thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    I don't know why there aren't more threads about this, so it may be an isolated issue.

    There are people complaining about iTunes optimizing the files to a lower resolution but I don't think I've found other people with my problem.

    Maybe it was a bug in that the phone is displaying the low quality, fast loading files used to flip through albums quickly instead of the higher quality versions, if you know what I mean…
  8. WickedRabbit macrumors regular

    Feb 17, 2009
    I've only been a member here a few months, but trust me, it's not isolated issues majority of the time. Simple fact is that majority of the members here will never notice these things unless someone else points them out because the average person here is the A-typical consumer. Or, they will reply if they think you insulted them (we'll test this later). In very few situations it also just means people have no clue what's going on so chose to just not reply since they don't have answer (also respectable, but gives you nothing to go on if you're wondering if others are having the same problem).

    That's why you have a ton of views to the thread, but no replies because most of these people won't notice these things so they see your thread, look at their pictures, can't tell the difference from HD to SD (as a reference) unless there's something incredibly distinguishable and just assume you don't know what you're talking about so they ignore the post. You'll notice a lot of the topics in tips/tricks/help forums are pretty much left unanswered. A great example is how many topics there are about iPhone 3GS (or OS 3.0) having Wi-Fi issues... lot of topics and yet there still manages to be a ton of people posting replies in these topics saying "you must be doing something wrong".

    My advice: do what I did and start looking for help on tech boards that aren't Mac-only centric. Use this site mostly for the news and conversing with other people and not really Mac help. You'll get better help from a majority of other tech related sites.
  9. Slip Jigs macrumors 6502a

    Feb 18, 2008
    The real thing that sounds like a glitch is the fact the file size is bigger. Other than that. Some other possibilities come to mind. Did you have auto brightness set the same? Were you overwriting previous files?

    Have you tried a document viewer rather than use iTunes to sync? I don't know if the images get cropped as part of optimizing, but that may play into it.

    I would run a macro in Photoshop to size all the pics to the iPhone screen then use a doc or image viewer.
  10. TWLreal thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    The thing that makes me think it's isolated or random is because I'm sure I'm not the only one using the iPhone as a portable portfolio.

    And people who know their photos would spot this kind of issue right away, sort of like I did, and it never happened until now.

    So it's probably not a widespread problem but just a random bug that happens once in a while. But everything's working fine now, I'll take the easy way out and pretend this never happened. ;P
    You mean the difference in file size between the ones on the computer and the ones on the phone? It's always been like this since the beginning, at least for me.

    Brightness of the screen? It's always been the same, and that shouldn't affect the image itself. See the 2 different set of files I've emailed myself.

    Resyncing through iTunes overwrites the files by default I believe unless it's smart enough to not overwrite unmodified albums but I don't think it does.
    I don't use iPhoto or Aperture, that's why I've asked if someone else would try it with my original files. At this point I don't really care enough to install the programs to try myself. ;)

    Yes, iTunes does resize them, I don't remember off hand but they're either 480 or 640 pixels on the longest side.
  11. TWLreal thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 9, 2006
    If anyone still cares about this, I guess not many people judging from the amount of replies. ;)

    I've just synced my photo albums adding a single new folder and everything went well. The image quality is perfect, just as it's always been.

    So I guessed I freaked out for nothing.

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