JPEG File Interchange Format

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The JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF) is an image file format standard. It is a format for exchanging JPEG encoded files compliant with the JPEG Interchange Format (JIF) standard. It solves some of JIF's limitations in regard to simple JPEG encoded file interchange. As with all JIF compliant files, image data in JFIF files is compressed using the techniques in the JPEG standard, hence JFIF is sometimes referred to as "JPEG/JFIF".

Purpose[edit]

JFIF defines a number of details that are left unspecified by the JPEG Part 1 standard (ISO/IEC IS 10918-1, ITU-T Recommendation T.81):

Component sample registration[edit]

JPEG allows multiple components (such as Y, Cb, and Cr) to have different resolutions, but it does not define how those differing sample arrays should be aligned. The JFIF standard requires samples to be sited "interstitially" — meaning the decoder can treat each component array as representing an array of equal-sized rectangular pixels sampled in their centers, with each array having the same exterior boundaries as the image. This is convenient for computer users, but is not the alignment used in MPEG-2 and most video applications.

Resolution and aspect ratio[edit]

The JPEG standard does not include any method of coding the resolution or aspect ratio of an image. JFIF provides resolution or aspect ratio information using an application segment extension to JPEG. It uses Application Segment #0, with a segment header of 'JFIF\x00', and specifies that this must be the first segment in the file, hence making it simple to recognise a JFIF file. Exif images recorded by digital cameras generally do not include this segment, but typically comply in all other respects with the JFIF standard.

Color space[edit]

JPEG does not define which color encoding is to be used for images. JFIF defines the color model to be used: either Y for greyscale, or YCbCr as defined by CCIR 601. Since this is not an absolute color space — unless an ICC profile, colorspace metadata, or an sRGB tag is provided and interpreted – a decoded JFIF image will be in a device-dependent RGB colorspace. Hence, JFIF does not by itself provide a mechanism for accurately transporting color-managed images across the Internet.

History[edit]

The standard was established on March 1, 1991 in a meeting at C-Cube Microsystems involving representatives of many companies, including C-Cube Microsystems, Radius, NeXT, Storm Tech, the PD JPEG group, Sun, and Handmade Software. The standard appears to have lost ownership, since C-Cube Microsystems is now defunct, and further development of the standard is dead. The latest version is v1.02, published September 1, 1992.

Since 2009, JFIF is under development to be defined as ISO/IEC 10918-5 - JPEG Part 5: JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF).[1][2] Ecma International TR/98 specifies the JPEG File Interchange Format (JFIF); the first edition was published in June 2009.[3] As many other JPEG components, the specification is now approved as common ITU and ISO/IEC standard, under ITU-T T.871 | ISO/IEC 10918-5.[4]

In 1996, RFC 2046 specified that the image format used for transmitting JPEG images across the internet should be JFIF. The MIME type of "image/jpeg" must be encoded as JFIF. In practice, however, virtually all Internet software can decode any baseline JIF image that uses Y or YCbCr components, whether it is JFIF compliant or not.

Compatibility[edit]

The newer Exchangeable image file format (Exif) is comparable to JFIF, but the two standards are mutually incomptaible. This is because both standards specify that their particular application segment (APP0 for JFIF, APP1 for Exif) must be the first in the image file. In practice, many programs and digital cameras produce files with both application segments included. This will not affect the image decoding for most decoders, but poorly designed JFIF or Exif parsers may not recognise the file properly.

JFIF is compatible with Adobe Photoshop's JPEG "Information Resource Block" extensions, and IPTC Information Interchange Model metadata, since JFIF does not preclude other application segments, and the Photoshop extensions are not required to be the first in the file. However, Photoshop generally saves CMYK buffers as four-component "Adobe JPEGs" that are not conformant with JFIF. Since these files are not in a YCbCr color space, they are typically not decodable by Web browsers and other Internet software.

File format structure[edit]

The JFIF meta data resides in the JPEG Application Segment APP0, having the zero-terminated ASCII string "JFIF" as segment header.

JFIF segment format[edit]

Field Size (bytes) Description
APP0 marker 2 Always equals 0xFFE0
Length 2 Length of segment excluding APP0 marker
Identifier 5 Always equals "JFIF" (with zero following) (0x4A46494600)
Version 2 First byte is major version (currently 0x01), Second byte is minor version (currently 0x02)
Density units 1 Units for pixel density fields
  • 0 - No units, aspect ratio only specified
  • 1 - Pixels per inch
  • 2 - Pixels per centimetre
X density 2 Integer horizontal pixel density
Y density 2 Integer vertical pixel density
Thumbnail width (tw) 1 Horizontal size of embedded JFIF thumbnail in pixels
Thumbnail height (th) 1 Vertical size of embedded JFIF thumbnail in pixels
Thumbnail data 3 × tw × th Uncompressed 24 bit RGB raster thumbnail

JFIF extension (JFXX) segment format[edit]

An optional second application segment allows a thumbnail image to be embedded using several different image formats (to save space).

Field Size (bytes) Description
APP0 marker 2 Always equals 0xFFE0
Length 2 Length of segment excluding APP0 marker
Identifier 5 Always equals "JFXX" (with zero following) (0x4A46585800)
Thumbnail format 1 Specifies what data format is used for the thumbnail:
  • 0x10 - JPEG format
  • 0x11 - 1 byte per pixel palettised format
  • 0x13 - 3 byte per pixel RGB format
Thumbnail data Variable

JPEG
Must be JIF format using YCbCr or just Y, and must not contain JFIF or JFXX segments.

One byte per pixel
Field Size (bytes) Description
Thumbnail width (tw) 1 Horizontal size of embedded palettised thumbnail in pixels
Thumbnail height (th) 1 Vertical size of embedded palettised thumbnail in pixels
Thumbnail palette 768 256 palette entries giving 24-bit colour values
Thumbnail data tw × th Pixel data - each value gives a position within the palette.
Three bytes per pixel
Field Size (bytes) Description
Thumbnail width (tw) 1 Horizontal size of embedded RGB thumbnail in pixels
Thumbnail height (th) 1 Vertical size of embedded RGB thumbnail in pixels
Thumbnail data 3 × tw × th Uncompressed 24 bit RGB raster thumbnail

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]