Have you noticed the markedly increased image compression on Flickr?


Since the last big overhaul in the second half of May in 2013, Flickr users have one terabyte of digital storage space for photos and videos at their disposal, for free. This is quite generous and should accommodate even the biggest private collections.

The saying goes don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, however, since the last update in early May, this horse should probably be given a thorough once-over: as some users have noticed, Flickr is compressing all uploaded pictures much more than before the update. There is no need to worry about the originals (those are left alone); this only concerns the smaller versions. However, taking into consideration that the smaller versions take up much less space compared to the originals, and that the grand majority of all users only sees the smaller versions in a forum or on blogs – simply because the high-resolution pictures are too big – it is difficult to comprehend why Flickr would do this.

In order to get an idea of the new image compression, I re-uploaded a photo which I had originally uploaded last year in August. Above you can see the original and below the newly uploaded version.

Sigma DP2 Quattro (volle Auflösung - full resolution)

Sigma DP2 Quattro (volle Auflösung - full resolution)

One glimpse at the file size confirms the optical impression: while the old photo had 68.1 kilobyte, the new one only has 45.7 KB. At a resolution of 1600×1067 the difference is considerably smaller (104 vs 100 KB). On the other hand, at 2048×1365 it is almost as big as at the resolution of 1024×683 (253 vs 189 KB).

Maybe giving the users less memory space and not implementing any compression would have been better. After all, what use does such a ginormous amount of space have, if any embedded pictures are full of image/compression artefacts?

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