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iTunes 'optimizing' = grainy, bloated, low resolution?

12645 Views 45 Replies Latest reply: Dec 6, 2008 2:28 PM by endriko RSS
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mavisXP Level 1 Level 1 (30 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Jun 10, 2008 4:34 PM
I love my iPod touch, and I can't wait to finally be able to buy an iPhone here in Japan next month, but there's one thing that has always bothered me - photos sync'd through iPhoto-->iTunes are grainy and have bad color. Until now, I've been unable to prove this - but finally I've found a way to prove that it's not just in my head. So, I'm wondering if anyone knows a way to get clear photos on the iPhone/Touch ... ?

First of all, after using the app "PhoneView" to download my sync'd pictures from my iPod BACK to my Mac, I've noticed that the resolutions are different for pictures, depending on whether their orientation is portrait or landscape. For portrait 4x6 images, the resolution is indeed 480x320. However, for landscape orientation, the resolution is consistently 640x426. I think it's kind of odd that iTunes would be sizing photos differently depending on their orientation ... I usually have my full-resolution pictures in iPhoto and sync those images through iTunes, but today I also tried manually resizing my pictures to 640x426 (landscape) and 480x320 (portrait) and then syncing them as a folder, rather than through iPhoto. The results were the same as doing it through iPhoto: disappointing. I've put together a sample, below:

!http://www.mavisxp.com/ipod/iTunes_compression.png!

and another example here.

As you can see, even pictures manually resized before syncing are turning out horribly grainy. What's even more disappointing than the image quality, however, is the file size: my original JPG is 84KB, but the iTunes' "optimized" JPG is *five times as large* (456KB) with inaccurate color and awful grain to boot. I mean, it looks like someone dribbled a basketball all over a glossy print (seriously, that grain's pattern is an exact match with the grain on a basketball) ... Is it supposed to look like that?

+After examining the EXIF data for both pictures, I've noticed another oddity which explains the bad color at least - when iTunes 'optimizes' pictures for the iPod, it apparently assigns them your monitor's color profile! Was this just an oversight that has yet to be corrected? When I export my pictures from Lightroom to iPhoto, I always use the sRGB profile because it's the most standard profile to use when sharing pictures (posting online, emailing, etc) ... My iMac's color profile is a custom Spyder2Pro profile, but that profile is only accurate for THIS MONITOR - certainly not my iPod! Anyway, I've uploaded the original pictures if anyone is interested in checking them out - you can download them in a zip archive here.+

This is the second iPod I've noticed grainy pictures with, so I know it's not just defective hardware. So I guess my question is simple: does anyone know of ANY way to get clear photos sync'd with the iPod Touch or iPhone? I hate to think that my new iPhone is going to suffer from the same sloppy coding, and I'd like to find a workaround if possible. I've poked through plists in iTunes.app and preferences, etc - but I haven't found anything. Any ideas?
24" 2.8GHz iMac (4GB RAM, 750GB HDD), Mac OS X (10.5.3)
  • Reuben Feffer Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    Excellent post. You've proved your point.

    I've noticed the graininess of photos transferred to my iPod Touch too. It doesn't make sense. What's the point of being able to zoom into a photo if all you see is grain; grain that wasn't there in your original photo?

    You should send your post to Apple Feedback. They need to fix this.
     iMac 17" 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X (10.5.3),  16 GB iPod Touch  40 GB Apple TV
  • Reuben Feffer Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    The more I use Apple products, the more I notice mistakes. They could fix these things so easily, but years go by without any change. Like I said before, what's the benefit of being able to Multi-Touch zoom into a photo, if the photo has been made artificially grainy by a poor resizing algorithm?

    <Edited by Moderator>
     iMac 17" 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2 GB RAM, 250 GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X (10.5.3),  16 GB iPod Touch  40 GB Apple TV
  • Steve Weintraub Calculating status...
    I just got my iPhone 3G, and immediately saw this problem. I'm shocked there isn't more buzz about this online; I've only found a few mentions in a google search.

    I don't really have a problem with iPhoto down-sampling images to fit on the iPhone (although I wish there was an option to adjust that), but this overlay of "basketball" texture is awful. Having a background in photo editing, I can tell you that adding grain to a photo is a trick used to mitigate banding, but why they would do this here seems nonsensical.
    PowerMac G5 Dual 2Ghz, MacBook Pro 2.4 ghz Core Duo | automatorworld.com, Mac OS X (10.5)
  • Reuben Feffer Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    This problem remains with the iPhone 3G.

    It's frustrating because, the iPhone 3G clearly has the power/capability to zoom into high-resolution non-grainy photos. If you zoom into photos you've taken in the Camera Roll, or saved from Safari to the Camera Roll, they're really clear and smooth.

    But as soon as you sync ANY photos to your iPhone 3G, iTunes adds a ton of grain in. I'll try sending Apple some feedback again. Surely they could fix this "in a snap" as they say. Maybe the photos are synced as GIFs with only 256 colours available? It almost looks that bad.
     iMac 17" 2GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X (10.5.4),  16GB iPhone 3G  40GB Apple TV
  • andyng Calculating status...
    Certainly supporting you on this. I love taking pics everywhere and I love the interface... however if the below is true, then it loses all the purpose of having a powerful photo browser.

    I will submit a feedback too and make call for similar respond via facebook. I think we need to get more ppl before they even notice how ppl see this.
    WinXP, Windows XP, .
  • OregonFarmer Level 1 Level 1 (105 points)
    It sounds like a software thing right? So if you want more hope, look into the photography section of the 2.0 app store. That's where I would look for image management improvements. It looks like some apps, like fotomatic and some others, are bypassing the Apple sync process. Worth a look.

    I have no fav foto app now as I am just exploring.
    MiniMac, Mac OS X (10.5.4), (2) 1st Gen iphones on 2.0 with 8g, MacBook Pro, Dell 4600 Xp
  • Grant Tompkins Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    I too have noticed this. I added a collection of images I used as wallpapers on my 1st gen iPhone to my new 3G iphone and noticed a serious difference in quality. The images were designed specifically for the iPhone's screen so they were at the exact resolution needed to fill the screen at a 1:1 ratio. After the iTunes "optimization" they look terrible. Apple should either remove this compression completely or figure out how to compress the images more suitably.

    Way to add a "feature" that everyone needed. Please go back to the way it was before. when it worked.
    PowerMac G5 & Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
  • Reuben Feffer Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    This is definitely a software bug that affects ALL iPhone and iPod Touch users. Everyone has it. It just comes down to whether you're observant enough to notice it.

    Both the iPhone and the iPod Touch have the hardware capability to zoom and pan across very high-resolution photos which are NOT grainy, so why does Apple insist on making ALL synced Photos grainy? They don't look like JPGs, they look more like 256-colour GIFs.
     iMac 17" 2GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X (10.5.4),  16GB iPod touch  40GB Apple TV
  • Grant Tompkins Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    I just found something strange. This effect even applies to video which makes me believe the screen itself or the whatever does image processing on the iPhone 3G is either less capable than the 1st gen phone or has been throttled back. I tested several different movies, all with the same effect. it looks like you're watching one really long animated GIF. I even took screen captures from both phones and loaded them up in iPhoto. Both look like the original file played through iTunes.

    Could this be a hardware problem? Does anyone else have this problem?
    PowerMac G5 & Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
  • Reuben Feffer Level 2 Level 2 (195 points)
    Can you please upload those screen shots to a free site like ImageShack.us and post links here so we can look at them?

    How exactly do you zoom into a video on an iPhone? The only way I can think of doing that is within Safari, if you open a QuickTime video on a web page, and play it back in fullscreen Portrait mode.
     iMac 17" 2GHz, 2GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, Mac OS X (10.5.4),  16GB iPod touch  40GB Apple TV
  • Grant Tompkins Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    as it turns out it was a screen defect. the black levels toward the darker range weren't where they should have been which made the compression and film grain more visible than it normally would be. it so happens it created the same pattern as the "grain" demonstrated above, but in motion. Apple gave me a new phone and it now looks the way it should.
    PowerMac G5 & Macbook Pro, Mac OS X (10.5.4)
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