What does future HEIC in 6.4 support mean?

I want to confess that after researching HEIC support online, I still don’t know what this will mean for me in the future, an amateur using digiKam to catalogue and manage the thousands of JPG personal photos I have taken. My photo editing doesn’t usually go much beyond cropping, resizing, and the occasional exposure adjustment.

HEIC is Apple’s version of HEIF, an image codec. If you can get the HEIC file off your iPhone, youll be able to see and edit it in digiKam.


Yeah I think that is a new image standard. It suppose to take less space on your drive and be a better quality.

I usually shy away from such new technology for at least 2 years.

Sometimes such new initiatives die out…

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Not sometimes, so far almost universally.

I’m really hoping that’s not the case, because at this point, JPEG needs to die. It’s ancient and highly limiting.

The nice things about HEIC/HEIF are:

  1. Apple actually leveraged existing standards here. It’s basically an H.265 intra frame in an MPEG-4 container
  2. It’s getting pushed heavily by a major player who can actually in some cases succeed in establishing a de facto standard in the fact of real standards (see iDevice flagrant violations of the USB BC1.2 standard.)

As much as I dislike Apple, this is one case where I want them to succeed.

Almost a year ago, I bought my first HDR TV. Content mastered for it looks amazing - the problem is, the only way to deliver a still image to such devices and have it RELIABLY displayed is to take the still and encode it into a video!

HEIF/HEIC is in theory the path forward to solving this, but we’re years away from having decent widespread support for HDR displays.


I am glad to see some progress on the HEIC / HEIF support in exiv2:

I would love drop JPG and jump to HEIC whenever the latter is widely supported.

Idle musing; HEIF/OpenEXR will be the JPEG/TIFF of the next decade… ??

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I hope so.

So far Microsoft wants to sell codecs for it…

Another good thing about HEIF is that it’s just a container format. Instead of the patent-encumbered h265 codec, one could also use a royalty-free AV1, already implemented by Microsoft, Firefox, Chrome, Netflix, VLC…

Slightly off topic question: how is colormanagement handled with HEIF?

The Wiki that @kmilos postet just mentions 8bit or 10bit and 4:2:0 (and 4:0:0) subsampling for the Main profile. This could be HDR but doesn’t have to be. For me this smells like the container format requires colormanagement. mandatory tags of intended colorspace? How do I tell my browser what I want to be displayed. How does it do conversions internally? Same should apply to digiKam.

EDIT: Ugh, I am reading through the standard of ISO 23008-12! For now it seems to me that a non color managed display of the data-streams within a HEIC would be suicide…someone correct me if I am wrong.

At least in libheif is code for color profile handling:

And GIMP already supports this: