cjpeg - compress an image file to a JPEG file
cjpeg [ options ] [ filename ]
cjpeg compresses the named image file, or the standard input if no file is named, and pro-
duces a JPEG/JFIF file on the standard output. The currently supported input file formats
are: PPM (PBMPLUS color format), PGM (PBMPLUS gray-scale format), BMP, Targa, and RLE
(Utah Raster Toolkit format). (RLE is supported only if the URT library is available.)
All switch names may be abbreviated; for example, -grayscale may be written -gray or -gr.
Most of the "basic" switches can be abbreviated to as little as one letter. Upper and
lower case are equivalent (thus -BMP is the same as -bmp). British spellings are also
accepted (e.g., -greyscale), though for brevity these are not mentioned below.
The basic switches are:
Scale quantization tables to adjust image quality. Quality is 0 (worst) to 100
(best); default is 75. (See below for more info.)
Create monochrome JPEG file from color input. Be sure to use this switch when com-
pressing a grayscale BMP file, because cjpeg isn't bright enough to notice whether
a BMP file uses only shades of gray. By saying -grayscale, you'll get a smaller
JPEG file that takes less time to process.
Perform optimization of entropy encoding parameters. Without this, default encod-
ing parameters are used. -optimize usually makes the JPEG file a little smaller,
but cjpeg runs somewhat slower and needs much more memory. Image quality and speed
of decompression are unaffected by -optimize.
Create progressive JPEG file (see below).
-targa Input file is Targa format. Targa files that contain an "identification" field
will not be automatically recognized by cjpeg; for such files you must specify
-targa to make cjpeg treat the input as Targa format. For most Targa files, you
won't need this switch.
The -quality switch lets you trade off compressed file size against quality of the recon-
structed image: the higher the quality setting, the larger the JPEG file, and the closer
the output image will be to the original input. Normally you want to use the lowest qual-
ity setting (smallest file) that decompresses into something visually indistinguishable
from the original image. For this purpose the quality setting should be between 50 and
95; the default of 75 is often about right. If you see defects at -quality 75, then go up
5 or 10 counts at a time until you are happy with the output image. (The optimal setting
will vary from one image to another.)
-quality 100 will generate a quantization table of all 1's, minimizing loss in the quanti-
zation step (but there is still information loss in subsampling, as well as roundoff
error). This setting is mainly of interest for experimental purposes. Quality values
above about 95 are not recommended for normal use; the compressed file size goes up dra-
matically for hardly any gain in output image quality.
In the other direction, quality values below 50 will produce very small files of low image
quality. Settings around 5 to 10 might be useful in preparing an index of a large image
library, for example. Try -quality 2 (or so) for some amusing Cubist effects. (Note:
quality values below about 25 generate 2-byte quantization tables, which are considered
optional in the JPEG standard. cjpeg emits a warning message when you give such a quality
value, because some other JPEG programs may be unable to decode the resulting file. Use
-baseline if you need to ensure compatibility at low quality values.)
The -progressive switch creates a "progressive JPEG" file. In this type of JPEG file, the
data is stored in multiple scans of increasing quality. If the file is being transmitted
over a slow communications link, the decoder can use the first scan to display a low-qual-
ity image very quickly, and can then improve the display with each subsequent scan. The
final image is exactly equivalent to a standard JPEG file of the same quality setting, and
the total file size is about the same --- often a little smaller. Caution: progressive
JPEG is not yet widely implemented, so many decoders will be unable to view a progressive
JPEG file at all.
Switches for advanced users:
Use integer DCT method (default).
Use fast integer DCT (less accurate).
Use floating-point DCT method. The float method is very slightly more accurate
than the int method, but is much slower unless your machine has very fast floating-
point hardware. Also note that results of the floating-point method may vary
slightly across machines, while the integer methods should give the same results
everywhere. The fast integer method is much less accurate than the other two.
Emit a JPEG restart marker every N MCU rows, or every N MCU blocks if "B" is
attached to the number. -restart 0 (the default) means no restart markers.
Smooth the input image to eliminate dithering noise. N, ranging from 1 to 100,
indicates the strength of smoothing. 0 (the default) means no smoothing.
Set limit for amount of memory to use in processing large images. Value is in
thousands of bytes, or millions of bytes if "M" is attached to the number. For
example, -max 4m selects 4000000 bytes. If more space is needed, temporary files
will be used.
Send output image to the named file, not to standard output.
Enable debug printout. More -v's give more output. Also, version information is
printed at startup.
-debug Same as -verbose.
The -restart option inserts extra markers that allow a JPEG decoder to resynchronize after
a transmission error. Without restart markers, any damage to a compressed file will usu-
ally ruin the image from the point of the error to the end of the image; with restart
markers, the damage is usually confined to the portion of the image up to the next restart
marker. Of course, the restart markers occupy extra space. We recommend -restart 1 for
images that will be transmitted across unreliable networks such as Usenet.
The -smooth option filters the input to eliminate fine-scale noise. This is often useful
when converting dithered images to JPEG: a moderate smoothing factor of 10 to 50 gets rid
of dithering patterns in the input file, resulting in a smaller JPEG file and a better-
looking image. Too large a smoothing factor will visibly blur the image, however.
Switches for wizards:
Force baseline-compatible quantization tables to be generated. This clamps quanti-
zation values to 8 bits even at low quality settings. (This switch is poorly
named, since it does not ensure that the output is actually baseline JPEG. For
example, you can use -baseline and -progressive together.)
Use the quantization tables given in the specified text file.
Select which quantization table to use for each color component.
Set JPEG sampling factors for each color component.
Use the scan script given in the specified text file.
The "wizard" switches are intended for experimentation with JPEG. If you don't know what
you are doing, don't use them. These switches are documented further in the file wiz-
This example compresses the PPM file foo.ppm with a quality factor of 60 and saves the
output as foo.jpg:
cjpeg -quality 60 foo.ppm > foo.jpg
Color GIF files are not the ideal input for JPEG; JPEG is really intended for compressing
full-color (24-bit) images. In particular, don't try to convert cartoons, line drawings,
and other images that have only a few distinct colors. GIF works great on these, JPEG
does not. If you want to convert a GIF to JPEG, you should experiment with cjpeg's -qual-
ity and -smooth options to get a satisfactory conversion. -smooth 10 or so is often help-
Avoid running an image through a series of JPEG compression/decompression cycles. Image
quality loss will accumulate; after ten or so cycles the image may be noticeably worse
than it was after one cycle. It's best to use a lossless format while manipulating an
image, then convert to JPEG format when you are ready to file the image away.
The -optimize option to cjpeg is worth using when you are making a "final" version for
posting or archiving. It's also a win when you are using low quality settings to make
very small JPEG files; the percentage improvement is often a lot more than it is on larger
files. (At present, -optimize mode is always selected when generating progressive JPEG
If this environment variable is set, its value is the default memory limit. The
value is specified as described for the -maxmemory switch. JPEGMEM overrides the
default value specified when the program was compiled, and itself is overridden by
an explicit -maxmemory.
djpeg(1), jpegtran(1), rdjpgcom(1), wrjpgcom(1)
Wallace, Gregory K. "The JPEG Still Picture Compression Standard", Communications of the
ACM, April 1991 (vol. 34, no. 4), pp. 30-44.
Independent JPEG Group
Arithmetic coding is not supported for legal reasons.
GIF input files are no longer supported, to avoid the Unisys LZW patent. Use a Unisys-
licensed program if you need to read a GIF file. (Conversion of GIF files to JPEG is usu-
ally a bad idea anyway.)
Not all variants of BMP and Targa file formats are supported.
The -targa switch is not a bug, it's a feature. (It would be a bug if the Targa format
designers had not been clueless.)
Still not as fast as we'd like.
20 March 1998 CJPEG(1)