Workflow from iPhone to Mac & HEIC container questions

Cowboys630

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
2
0
Please forgive me for the long post! I've had all of this kicking around in my head and had to get it all out and also wanted to get some expert takes. :cool:

I'm curious about other's workflow when importing from iPhone to Mac. iCloud Photo Library is really sweet, but I need more than 2TB and don't like the idea of paying from now on. I'm currently using an iPhone 7 Plus and use Image Capture to import pictures and videos directly to an external hard drive. I usually import them in groups and do not use the 'Delete after import' option since I've had Image Capture freeze during import a couple of times and I think I lost an image or two. Once they're imported I just delete them in Image Capture, no biggie.

Once imported to the external, I use GraphicConverter to rename them by date & time and then either sort manually or use GraphicConverter's sorting options. Once their named and sorted to their final spots, I drag them into Apple Photos as referenced photos. Carbon Copy Cloner then backs up everything to a NAS.

What I'm really wondering about is using HEIF/HEIC. I've read many pros and cons on quality, but also that HEIC can contain multiple files, helping with Live Photos and Portrait Mode photos, if I understand correctly.

When you take a Portrait Mode photo as JPG and then view it in Image Capture, you see two files: IMG_1234.jpg and IMG_E1234.jpg. If you import just IMG_1234.jpg, you get IMG_1234.jpg and IMG_1234.aae. IMG_1234.jpg does not contain the Portrait Mode effect in itself, but that info is stored in the .aae file. Importing both of these files into Photos does make the image show with the Portrait Mode effect in Photos, which can be toggled on and off, edited, etc.

I get that the .jpg prefaced with the E is a copy of the picture with the edits baked in. Does everyone tend to keep that, though? If you import all three files into Photos, you get the same results as just using IMG_1234.jpg and IMG_1234.aae, so it seems like you're really using extra hard drive space for nothing at that point. I suppose it depends on if you're going to use Apple Photos or not. If you are, there's probably no use in keeping the E photo. If not, then that looks like the only way to get the effect.

If you use HEIC instead, basically the same thing happens. Image Capture shows IMG_1234.heic and IMG_E1234.jpg. Importing the .heic file gets you IMG_1234.heic and IMG_1234.aae. That was surprising to me since in my reading about the format, I thought any information that would be in the .aae file would now be in the HEIC container, since it's supposed to be able to contain more files/info than .jpg. Importing just the .heic image into Photos does not give the Portrait Mode effect, while importing both the .heic and .aae does.

I also read that HEIC would store burst photos, but a burst of 6 photos all show up as .jpg's.

Finally, Live Photos. I was under the impression that HEIC container would house both the picture and the movie in the .heic file. When using either .jpg or HEIC, they show in Image Capture as a single file. Importing either version via Image Capture results in the separate respective picture and movie files. Renaming the image and movie file to the same name and importing into Photos results in the Live Photo working just fine. However, when I use Photos to import a Live Photo directly, I at first thought that the HEIC versions were storing the image and the .mov inside the HEIC container. I finally found the .mov files, for a .jpg or .heic, in the resources/media/master/xx folders, so the HEIC file does not appear to contain the .mov file after all.



So does using the HEIC container save you in number of files in the case of a Portrait Mode, Live Photos, or Burst shots? From what I'm seeing, not really. The advantages I see is it does give you a higher color range and saves some file size. Some people say HEIC looks better, less banding in skies, etc., others say it softens pictures since it's throwing out data in the compression. For Portrait Mode, you still have to have the picture and the .aae file when using .jpg or HEIC. If you're using Apple Photos, you don't need to keep the IMG_E1234.jpg with the baked in edits, since you can recreate it if needed by exporting from Photos. If you're not using Photos, then you need to keep the IMG_E1234.jpg to have the effects.

Does this sound like what others have found and are doing? I just want to make sure I'm saving what I need, but not things that I don't, as well as straightening it all out in my brain! ?

Thanks in advance for your time and any advice!
 

Ray2

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
670
138
My solution to wondering about the same: I replaced the iPhone camera with Simple Cam. It takes jpegs, nothing more. IQ is dependent on who’s behind the camera and invariably a function of composition, not pixels.
 

Cowboys630

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 7, 2020
2
0
@Ray2 - Thanks! I may take a look at that app sometime. I've been toying with trying to do more with the phone's camera. I also have Camera+, but honestly haven't messed with it enough yet. On trips is usually take my DSLR as well and the iPhone is usually for quick shots.

@Clix Pix - I hear ya, I left it that way for a long time. I've got a 256GB phone so my Camera Roll has built up quite a bit. I've had it backed up, but it's time to get them all off the phone. Do you shoot Portrait Mode? If so, are you keeping the E image as well?

Thanks for the replies!
 

Clix Pix

macrumors demi-goddess
Most of the time with the iPhone I just shoot in the standard mode, rather than portrait mode. Periodically I plug the phone into the computer and, using Image Capture dump everything from the Camera Roll to the computer to get a fresh start....
 

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