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I used to use my iPad to crop JPEG's from camera roll, and auto enhance them, etc.

It occurred to me that since the photos from iOS's camera app are JPEGs, it would be hard to edit them without losing quality. Is that the case?

How much quality loss is there when editing photos in the native iOS app?

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Yes, that is the case. When you edit a JPEG photo and save the result as a JPEG image, it will be re-encoded and thus you'll suffer some loss of quality. The only way to avoid that is to save the photo in a lossless format (for example RAW). You cannot do that with the built-in Photos app.

You can find other apps that allow you to save both the original photo and edits in better quality - like for example PureShot and others. Even though the resolution is the same, different apps have different quality settings in regards to how much JPEG compression is applied.

Note that even though the original photo has low compression (and high quality), just editing it in the native Photos apps will save a new JPEG with higher compression and lower quality. For example read this article where they loaded a 5.59 MB photo, applied an edit and saved - and got a 1.49 MB photo out of the native app:

Editing App Comparison

Another factor when comparing editing apps is to ensure that they perform all your edits against the original photo before exporting a new JPEG. If they create a new JPEG for each edit and use that as the source for the next edit, you'll experience the quality degradation multiple times.

  • That's pretty serious. I guess the ideal thing would be to have an app that saved the output as a .PNG? – Revetahw May 31 '16 at 8:35
  • Yes, that is a possibility. However, most of the apps that save in lossless, they save in TIFF format. When you say it's "pretty serious", you need to describe your situation a bit more. For ordinary home photographers, the compression in the JPEGs is no problem. It is really no big deal, unless you're really doing it as a serious hobby or as a pro photographer. But then, you probably wouldn't be shooting on an iPhone, but something better suited for taking pictures. – jksoegaard May 31 '16 at 17:59
  • That's true. It's actually not so serious given the context. I just don't like losing quality in general. But it's as easy as using another editor. – Revetahw May 31 '16 at 18:00
  • Remember that it comes at a cost. You should probably expect a TIFF to take up 5 times as much space as the JPEGs created by the native camera app. – jksoegaard May 31 '16 at 18:07
  • Sure. It depends on what one intends to use the photos for. – Revetahw May 31 '16 at 18:09

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