How *exactly* does storage work on Google Photos?

Mat Honan gives a nice summary:

It gives you free unlimited storage for what Google calls “high-quality” photos and videos. At the free tier, the service compresses images, maintaining resolution up to 16 megapixels. Google claims these maintain near-identical visual quality.

It’s true: check out these comparisons. Honestly, if we never said anything about compression, I don’t think a single human (myself included) would ever notice, but it’s important to be transparent so that people can make informed choices.

Mat continues:

Videos are maintained at 1080p. If you want to keep your original photos, Google offers 15 GB of storage for free and an additional terabyte for $10 per month. [Also, 100GB = $2/mo.] To keep your photos current, Google Photos has automatic backups for iOS, Android, and the desktop. You don’t have to actually do anything to make them happen.

If you shoot raw images with a DSLR (as I do), you can choose “Original” from the desktop app and “High Quality” from your phone so that your phone pics don’t count against quota. (Every iPhone image besides panos will fit comfortably under the 16 megapixel cap.)

7 thoughts on “How *exactly* does storage work on Google Photos?

  1. I did find the labels a bit confusing at first: using the label “High Quality” and having it as the first option both cued my subconscious to expect it to be the higher-quality option. I had to re-read the labels—and pause and think—before the meanings of the two options became clear.

    1. “They picked up NIK and Nack”—nicely said! 🙂 As for your other points, you’re not out of luck if you want more storage: you just have to pay a tiny bit for it (as before). Two bucks a month gets you 100GB of storage—two bucks! And ten gets you 1000GB.

      You’re right that we generally have to optimize things for a really broad audience (the kind of people who, for example, rarely if ever edit at all), and that an be frustrating for an enthusiast like me. But rest assured that we’ll keep pushing to make the system something we can all love.

  2. Still not totally clear on what is/isn’t compressed on the “High Quality” option:

    – Are sub 16Mpx – what happens – are the images down-scaled to 16Mpx?

    1. Rest of post was cut:

      “Maintains resolution” might suggest not – but as photography enthusiasts know – resolution doesn’t mean it’s not compressed)

      – If over 16Mpx – what happens – are the images down-scaled to 16Mpx?

      1. EVERYTHING is compressed on High Quality. Even a 320×200 CGA image will be compressed.

        It does use high-quality compression though, and the naked eye cannot tell the difference until the image is blown up to native resolution… and untrained, probably can’t notice then, either.

        Anything over 16 MP will, in addition, be downsampled to 16 MP. For mobile phone cameras, this is largely a non-factor. The new Samsung Galaxy S6, for example, has an excellent 16 MP camera; at the moment, it’s the best-rated mobile camera. And the images will not be downsampled by Google Photos; merely compressed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *