Android app photo editor downsamples before cropping images

I took some images of birds in the distance. When I zoomed in on my computer I could see distinguishing markers. I thought I’d make it easier for people to see them by using the cropping tool in the inaturalist app, but when I checked the images after cropping them the resolution was much worse than the original image, blurring the distinguishing markers.

I just wanted to check to see if anybody else had experienced this issue and if it was by design or a bug.

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I’ve definitely noticed slightly lower quality when uploading. I’ve only ever noticed this on the app when I’m cropping things, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens to everything but just isn’t noticeable for most photos. I’ve assumed this is due to the slight alteration that occurs to the photos when they’re uploaded.

I missed a key element in your original post and so my explanation wasn’t appropriate and I deleted it.

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I think iNat reduces resolution on photos in order to save on server costs - it’s a small nonprofit paying to store a lot of data. The best solution is to crop photos on your own computer and then upload the cropped photos to iNat. See this discussion:


Based on a quick test I just did, it appears to be the case that the Android app is downsampling the image before the crop is applied, meaning if your original image was larger than 2048 in either dimension, you would lose detail – the same amount of detail lost by uploading the full size image.

That seems like a bug to me, so I’ve moved this to the bug report category (and changed the title a bit).


Thank you @jwidness !

If it’s not a true “bug”, and compression is a normal part of the upload process, I would put in a feature request to not compress images below a certain filesize threshold so that cropped images can go in unaltered. I love the cropping tool and am grateful it was implemented! I can imagine a lot of instances where a user would want to crop a photo and retain the resolution so that all the details are available.

In the meantime, the next chance I get I’ll crop the images on my computer and replace the files. I think I saw my first Eared Grebes, but the compressed images don’t show the “ears” like the original photo does :) (Where are the ears?)

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Made an issue here after talking to our Android developer:

If the photo is still on the device (so for situations where a) you’re making a new observation or b) editing a synced observation made from your device) we should be able to edit that full-sized photo. If the photos are from an observation made via the web or another device or they no longer exist on your device, that’s not possible because we only have access to the resized photo.

If I understand right, images get resized to 2048x2048(ish) when they get uploaded, so when you crop, it crops the 2048 version. Your ticket @tiwane is to make the app call up the image on the phone, crop that, and re-upload, which will only resize if it’s still >2048.

That would help in many cases, since I keep most of my phone images. In the other cases, there is no getting around the fact that the images are compressed for storage. That’s good to know that I should crop my dslr images through the computer before uploading they the web.

Thanks again!

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