1GB can hold approximately 715 JPEG pictures shot in 4MP whereas with RAW pictures that number goes down to 71. However, there are also three other factors to consider which can bump up picture file size further: aspect ratio, compression, and color depth.
Hi, I’m Devansh. Having worked with DSLR cameras in the past, I often had to carefully gauge which memory card capacity would be sufficient enough to hold all my shots. So, over time, I developed a keen understanding of how many pictures fit into a particular amount of storage space.
In this article, I’ll first share two data tables by Sandisk which will estimate the number of pictures 1GB can hold based on quality and file size for both compressed and uncompressed file formats. I’ll also discuss three major factors that can bump up the file size of a picture. Then I’ll answer some interesting questions you might be curious about.
If you’re looking to transfer your pictures to an old device or thinking of buying a new memory card for your DSLR camera and want an estimate of how many pictures will fit into 1GB, keep reading!
- How Many Pictures Can 1GB Hold?
- Factors that Affect Picture Size
How Many Pictures Can 1GB Hold?
Here’s the part you clicked on this article for. The following data has been provided by Sandisk, which is an SD Association-approved brand. Although, as you might agree, calculating exactly how many pictures 1GB can hold is a rather tedious task. In light of that, they’ve come up with a couple of estimates and assumptions to simplify the task. Here they are.
- One Megapixel = 1,000,000 pixels
- 1MB = 1,000,000 bytes and 1GB = 1,000MB
- JPEG pictures have visually lossless compression with 1:10 ratio of RAW picture
With this out of the way, let’s take a look at the two data tables, shall we?
Compressed Format (JPEG)
|Megapixel||Estimated File Size (MB)||Pictures|
Uncompressed Format (RAW)
|Megapixel||Estimated File Size (MB)||Pictures|
As you can see, the difference between both is significant. However, it doesn’t end here. As I said before, Sandisk came up with a few generalizations for this data. There are some other factors to consider too, and this knowledge can come in handy down the line.
Factors that Affect Picture Size
Now you have a general idea of how many pictures can fit into 1GB, both for compressed and uncompressed file formats. However, as I said, file size isn’t solely dependent on resolution and format.
Of course, as with most digital files, the higher quality a picture is, the more space it takes up. Although this boils down to more pixels, there’s also other stuff to consider. So, let’s discuss three primary factors that can bump up file size.
If you’ve been searching for any kind of monitor or TV recently, you’ve no doubt heard of this term. It’s basically the proportion between a specific picture’s width and height. Here are three commonly used aspect ratios:
- 1:1 – This is when the width and height of the picture are equal, i.e. a square. This makes it perfect for any profile picture or social media post.
- 4:3 – As you can see, this refers to a picture that is 4 units wide by 3 units tall, and is mostly used for monitors, personal tablets, and TVs.
- 16:9 – This aspect ratio is most common now, especially when it comes to HD TVs and high-end gaming monitors.
Aspect ratio affects picture size by increasing or decreasing the number of pixels necessary to display a clear picture on your device of choice. If you want a picture to be a certain aspect ratio, especially with respect to a medium, this is one factor that can increase file size.
As you might have picked up from the two data tables above, a compressed picture will always take less space and as a result increase the memory card capacity, whereas an uncompressed picture will do the exact opposite. There are two types of compression:
- Lossy compression
- Lossless compression
I already talked about lossy compression, which refers to the file size and picture quality variation between JPEG and RAW formats. However, lossless compression aims to give you the best of both worlds: reducing the size of a picture without sacrificing quality. This usually works with PNG, TIFF, and BMP formats.
Although, these file types (especially PNGs) are generally larger than JPEGs. Not as large as RAW, but still larger. So, if you want to pick a middle-of-the-road option between JPEG and RAW, here you go.
Whether a beginner or an expert, every photographer knows the importance of color depth. Of course, your decision to shoot in either RAW or JPEG also affects you here. If you take your pictures in RAW, post-processing is easier with an application like Photoshop or Lightroom. You’ll be able to enhance it without losing its originality.
With JPEG, it’s the other way around. Since some of the data is cut out thanks to the compression process, preserving the originality—the unique shades, the highlights, the lens flares—becomes increasingly difficult. So, that’s the price you pay for lower file size.
A simple example of this is the difference between an 8-bit picture and a 24-bit picture. The former can store up to 256 colors while the latter up to 16 million. Quite a jump, isn’t it? But this also increases the file size thanks to the extra color info attached to each pixel.
Overall, if you value picture quality, this is yet another aspect in which you’ll bump up the file size.
This is a vast topic, so here are some relevant and interesting questions you might want to know the answers to.
What’s the Cheapest Cloud Storage Platform to Offload Extra pictures?
There are many cloud storage platforms out there, but Degoo has been developed with a special emphasis on pictures. With a free account, you get a whopping 100GB of free storage. If you’re willing to go premium, there’s a $2.99 per month “Pro” plan for 500GB and a $9.99 per month “Ultimate” plan for 10TB.
What’s the Best Tool to Compress Pictures and Save Space?
Let’s separate this answer into web apps, Android apps, and iOS apps. For the web: JPEG Optimizer, Kraken, or Compressor.io. For Android: Pixlr, Photoshop Express, or Lit Picture. For iOS: Photo Compress or PhotoShrinker. Most of these give you plenty of quality settings to choose from.
Do Deleted pictures Take Up Storage Space Too?
At the outset, deleting pictures seems simple enough: select the picture and use the delete option. End of story. However, each major platform has some kind of temporary safety net, either called ‘Recently Deleted‘ or ‘Recycle Bin‘ which holds the deleted picture for a certain period. If you want to free up storage space, go to it and delete your pictures permanently.
If you’re a professional photographer, you’ll inevitably come across the choice between RAW and JPEG at some point. Most DSLRs give you a choice between those two formats.
The former, although takes more storage space, will offer you greater editing freedom during post-production. The latter will take less space but because some of the original bits have been cut, it will be less original and harder to enhance.
At the end of the day, this just depends on your particular use case. Of course, based on the data presented in this article, you can gauge how many pictures higher capacity cards can hold too, going from 16GB, 32GB, and beyond.
In your experience, how many pictures have you been able to fit into a small storage device? Share your answer with me in the comments!