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Kodak 10 lbs in a 5 lb bag? PIM in a new guise? Something more?
By Mike Pasini, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 17:19 EST)

Kodak announces a new "extended range" enhancement to the JPEG format...

This is an interesting item, although it's a little hard to tell from the press release just what's going on. Kodak has announced an extension to the common JPEG format, to be implemented in their pro cameras and backs beginning in March. The new format apparently embeds color gamut and "dynamic range information" (whatever that might be) inside otherwise standard JPEG files. (Most likely as JPEG "comment" or user-defined EXIF data fields.) Kodak claims that the new format "... provides professional photographers ease-of-use of JPEG files with the image quality and color/exposure control of Kodak's highly regarded DCR format raw camera files." Their press release (see below) also claims that the new format is much more compact than their DCR raw format.

I have to admit to having a hard time making sense of this: It seems to me that any ability to do post-capture exposure compensation (as is possible with CCD-raw formats like Kodak's DCR standard) would require the file to contain all the original CCD data. If the file also contained a standard JPEG image, the result would be larger than a DCR, not smaller. On the other hand, some of their press release sounds more like its describing something more like Epson's Print Image Matching (PIM) system, or the sort of thing that's being floated as part of the EXIF 2.2 spec. - Basically, a system of storing information about the camera's color gamut and tonal characteristics in the JPEG header, to be used post-exposure to adjust/correct the images, and adapt them to various output media. (Sort of a poor-man's color management system.)

If that's what the Kodak system is, well and good, but when they claim it provides the "color/exposure control of ... DCR format," they're implying much greater capability than could be derived from simple inclusion of gamut and tone information. (In order to adjust exposure post-exposure without serious image degradation, you need the actual sensor data, not mere "dynamic range information.")

I'll be visiting with Kodak a little while into the show, so will try to get more information on this intriguing announcement at that time. Meanwhile, see the press release below, and have a crack at deciphering it yourself...

Source: Kodak

Original Source Press Release:

Kodak Professional Debuts Extended Range Imaging Technology;Major Advance Supplying JPEG Flexibility with Raw Image File Quality

JPEG Ubiquity, DCR Flexibility Expand Image Control, Help Eliminate Editing Problems

ORLANDO, Fla., February 23 -- Kodak Professional today introduced its new Extended Range Imaging Technology an innovative, proprietary image format that represents a major advance in digital imaging. It provides professional photographers ease-of-use of JPEG files with the image quality and color/exposure control of Kodak's highly regarded DCR format raw camera files.

The only digital camera manufacturer to offer this proprietary technology, Kodak Professional designed the Extended Range Imaging format to streamline photographer workflows, lower costs and help increase productivity.

Visitors to the Photo Marketing Association show, February 24-27 in Orlando, Fla., can view the Kodak Professional Extended Range Imaging Technology in the Kodak Professional booth (#2772). This innovative ERI JPEG image format will be available for the Kodak Professional DCS Pro Back Plus, DCS Pro Back 645, DCS 760 and DCS 720x digital cameras in March.

Similar to normal JPEGs, Extended Range Imaging files are captured directly in the camera, are EXIF 2.1-compliant, and are compatible with virtually all imaging applications for opening, viewing and printing. But unlike normal JPEGs, the files are captured with the raw dynamic range and color gamut information commonly discarded by the JPEG (sRGB) image processing in the camera intact.

"Our new file format technology was conceived as a convenient, extended-range JPEG format that provides the color management and image manipulation that JPEG files do not," said Madhav Mehra, Worldwide Director, Digital Capture Solutions, Kodak Professional. "Our new Extended Range Imaging Technology marries advanced data capture and preservation of the photographer's artistic intent with JPEG file format ubiquity."

The preserved extended-range information is compressed and then stored in a special location inside the JPEG file. Specially developed Kodak software recovers this information and modifies the image based on user-directed controls.

In a way, Kodak Professional Extended Range Imaging Technology can be thought of as an extended-range JPEG format. Kodak's ERI JPEG files deliver all the benefits of capturing raw "digital negative" files. So in addition to improving the editing, color balance and exposure compensation lacking in normal JPEG files, Kodak's ERI JPEG file permits easy-open, easy-edit and easy-print functions common within a JPEG workflow.

The new file format will appeal to portrait/wedding photographers, who are asking for simple workflows to shoot and print high volumes of images, but have limited storage card space to preserve hundreds of image files. In-camera finished Extended Range Imaging files deliver high-quality images that can be easily stored for post-shoot color correction or image manipulation, and can be seamlessly submitted to a lab using Kodak Professional's ProShots Digital System software for efficient job-turnaround in a digital lab environment.

Photojournalists who have long appreciated the high image quality and exposure-compensation and color-balance capabilities of raw files, but who desire the efficiencies of JPEG files, will find much to like about this new format in their JPEG workflows. Commercial photographers will realize similar benefits, as well as the high capture volume and streamlined workflow that location shooters require. Photographers in government, medical and scientific sectors who document procedures and experiments in real time will reap the benefits of capturing JPEG files that preserve all of the original image data.

Kodak Professional DCS Extended Range Imaging Technology will be introduced with new camera firmware and a companion Kodak Professional DCS Extended Range Imaging Technology File Format Module (ERI FFM) for Adobe Photoshop. When DCS Extended Range Imaging files are opened in Photoshop, the ERI FFM will allow the user to make a variety of sophisticated image-processing decisions such as exposure compensation, color balance, color space selection and lighting adjustments.

This ERI FFM software also is compatible with Kodak Professional DCS Custom Looks ICC profiles, which allow photographers the freedom to modify their captured image files to a variety of highly specialized color and black-and-white renderings.

Eastman Kodak Company and infoimaging

Kodak is the leader in helping people take, share, enhance, preserve, print and enjoy pictures -- for memories, for information, for entertainment. The company is a major participant in "infoimaging" -- a $225 billion industry composed of devices (digital cameras and PDAs), infrastructure (online networks and delivery systems for images) and services & media (software, film and paper enabling people to access, analyze and print images). Kodak harnesses its technology, market reach and a host of industry partnerships to provide innovative products and services for customers who need the information-rich content that images contain. The company, with sales last year of $13.2 billion, is organized into four major businesses: Photography, providing consumers, professionals and cinematographers with digital and traditional products and services; Commercial Imaging, offering image capture, output and storage products and services to businesses and government; Components, delivering flat-panel displays, optics and sensors to original equipment manufacturers; and Health, supplying the healthcare industry with traditional and digital image capture and output products and services.

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