Exporting to HEIF?

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Exporting to HEIF?

Postby Reign of Crows » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:54 am

When Apple began support of HEIF the results were pretty striking, cutting file sizes by about 50% without any apparent quality loss. But the format was new and it seemed like an iOS-only thing for a bit. Time passed and now multiple computer operating systems support it, as do Adobe and other media companies. Since Capture One doesn't support HEIF yet, I recently began to explore exporting to image formats other than standard JPEG, but JPEGXR and JPEG2000 - despite their promises to also have superior quality at reduced file sizes - took up more space than JPEG. I probably need to tweak the export settings on those formats, but I was curious if anyone knew of a plugin or other method of exporting to HEIF, or if there are rumblings that Capture One is going to natively support it in a coming version.

(Apologies for a similar topic - a variation of this question was asked back in December 2018, but it related more to editing HEIF files rather than exporting to the format, and most of the discussion focused on the iPhone that the poster was using. Hence, I figure it might warrant a new thread instead of a simple reply, where most might continue to respond to the idea of using C1 as an iPhone photo editor.)
Reign of Crows
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Re: Exporting to HEIF?

Postby Delwood » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:32 pm

The only thing that I have found for creating HEIF files is GPAC. Here is a link
https://gpac.wp.imt.fr/2017/06/09/gpac- ... #more-2444

The software is open source and can be installed on the Mac using Brew. Let us know if you try and it works!
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Re: Exporting to HEIF?

Postby Reign of Crows » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:02 am

Thanks for the reply. The tool you linked to looks a bit advanced for me, so I tried looking for a converter with a GUI. Most tools are for converting from HEIF to other formats; the Mac App Store has two converters for cheap but they seem a bit sketchy. I actually already own Permute, a general file format converter, and since it came up in the Mac App Store I looked and it can indeed convert to HEIF (you need to add the preset, but it's built in).

A quick test was promising. Using files made from 50-megapixel, 14-bit RAWs:
Image exported from Capture One as a 16-bit TIFF: 275.2 MB
Converted to HEIF (90% compression, the default from Permute; think of it as quality for JPEG): 8.7 MB
Converted to HEIF using 85% compression instead: 3.7 MB (no perceptible loss in quality compared with 90%)

By comparison, JPEG exported from Capture One, 85% quality: 5 MB.

I could not see a difference between the JPEG or HEIF files. Admittedly, my image did not have much dynamic or color range and may not be the best example to stress-test the differences. There are plenty of image examples on the internet showing the superiority of HEIF in this regard, though.

I can probably push HEIF compression even further; just for fun, I did it at 10% and the resulting file was about 128 KB. It showed artifacts but I was actually surprised at how decent it looked for such horrid compression; my guess is that 70-80% compression would probably still look flawless. And if going from 90% to 85% resulted in a 5 MB savings, that might cut the file size in half yet again, which would be even more impressive and mean that output is half the size or less of JPEG while looking just as good. I'll do more testing later.

The only downside I could see is that the conversion to HEIF took a fair bit of time, not even accounting for the amount of time it took exporting to TIFF. Also, it seems the conversion changed the bit depth to 8; it did not respect the TIFF's 16 bits, even though HEIF is capable of 16-bit images. I'm guessing that's more a limitation of Permute at present, though.

All in all, I'm impressed enough to consider making this part of my regular workflow. Would be nice if Capture One supported HEIF natively to cut out the TIFF part, though!

Edit Just to add, I did a conversion at 75%. File size is 1.3 MB, I'm still unable to see any differences between the HEIF and the TIFF (although this scrutiny did reveal that one side of my monitor appears slightly brighter than the other...). To be fair I should probably do JPEG at 75% quality to see if I still feel the same way, but this is impressive enough that I'll probably make it my standard workflow.
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