Digital cameras are getting more sophisticated yet cheaper by the day. They’re now in the range of 10 megapixels and, as a consequence, resulting photographs are now getting bigger in file size, as well.
This poses problems in terms of emailing photos to family and friends, as a huge file would slow down the sending/receiving process. The same principle holds true for web pages, blogs or social networking sites (e.g. FaceBook). Out of consideration and courtesy for other people, it is common netiquette practice to resize photos prior to emailing or posting them on the net.
A quick, easy and free way of doing this is by using IrfanView.
IrfanView is a compact, easy-to-use image viewer that you can download for free (I can’t seem to stress that often enough!) from IrfanView.Net. IrfanView is actually a lot more than just an image viewer — you can also use it to do minor adjustments in colour, contrast, saturation — but for the purposes of this post, I’ll limit the discussion to the topic of resizing the photographs only.
Let’s say I have this photograph of the stained glass roof of Mutrah Market in Muscat, Oman. I used my D40 to take this photograph and the original file is 3.53 MB in size.
First, I open the file using IrfanView.
Then I click on Image | Resize/Resample. Or, alternatively, just press ‘Ctrl+R,’ i.e. hold down the ‘Ctrl’ key and press the ‘R’ key at the same time.
You can set the size manually, specifying the dimensions in pixels, cm or inches. You can set new size as percentage of the original. You can choose the option “Best fit to desktop”. You can also choose one of the standard dimensions in pixels: 640 x 480, 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, etc.
Let’s try “Best fit to desktop”. Click on that, then click OK. Just leave the other options untouched, if you’re not sure what they mean. (Other options include preserving aspect ratio, applying sharpen after resample, resample vs resize.)
Now click on File | Save As. See that submenu on the right? For JPEG/GIF option, move the slider all the way to the right, to 100.
This way, you save the resized pic, say, on your desktop, ready to be sent by email, while you preserve the original file, in case you intend to print it or edit it at a later time.
In this case, I rename the file to stained_glass.jpg and save it to my desktop. I check on the file and I see that it’s still huge — 1.04 MB.
So I resize it even further. This time, using the resized file (currently 1.04 MB in size), I resize it even further into 50% of its size. Then I save it as stained_glass_Mutrah.jpg. (Same steps as above.)
This time, when I hover my mouse next to the new file, I see that it’s now been reduced to a more managed 346KB.
Good enough for posting on this blog, good enough for emailing. As a general rule, I keep my photos within 150KB to 300KB in size for uploading and emailing.
You can experiment with various settings to see what works for you. Just remember to click on ‘Save As’ instead of ‘Save’ in order to preserve the original photo.
My only complaint about IrfanView is that it’s only for the Windows environment. I’ve emailed the author, Irfan Skiljan, to ask if IrfanView has a Mac version and he was kind enough to reply (and promptly at that!) that sorry, there is no IrfanView for Mac at this moment. Now that I’ve switched to Mac, IrfanView is one program that I sorely miss, a view shared by many other Mac users who’ve previously used IrfanView somewhere.
Linux users, however, can use IrfanView. Even though there is no native-Linux version of IrfanView, the website says you can use IrfanView in conjunction with Linux programs like WINE, Windows Linux emulators and Linux-based virtual machines.