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Compression
GIF - Optimized Manually
256 Colors - 42K / 15 sec. @ 28.8
128 Colors - 37K / 13 sec. @ 28.8
64 Colors - 32K / 11 sec. @ 28.8
32 Colors - 28K / 9 sec. @ 28.8
Of the above images, the 64 Color version has an adequate quality with the smallest file size, however it is not small enough. If I needed this graphic in this format on a web page, and Photoshop was unavailable to optimize the image for me, I would spend even more time trying to wittle down the file size.
GIF - Optimized by Photoshop
128 Colors - 18K / 7 sec. @ 28.8
64 Colors - 15K / 6 sec. @ 28.8
32 Colors - 10K / 5 sec. @ 28.8
Web Colors - 8K / 4 sec. @ 28.8
Of the above images optimized by Photoshop, I would probably be happy with the 32 Color version in regards to image quality vs. file size. I like the 64 color version better, but not enough to justify a 50% increase in file size. The web palette image looks interesting, but doesn't look enough like the original to be considered.
JPEG - Optimized Manually
Max - 24K / 8 sec. @ 28.8
High - 19K / 7 sec. @ 28.8
Med - 16K / 5 sec. @ 28.8
Low - 14K / 5 sec. @ 28.8
Of the above images, the medium compression version has an adequate quality with the smallest file size. The degradation of quality between medium and low is pretty evident, and the difference in file size is minimal. Like the GIF I manually optimized above, I am not satisfied that the file size is small enough. If I needed this graphic on a web page, and Photoshop was unavailable to optimize the image for me, I would spend more time trying to find ways to reduce file size.
JPEG - Optimized by Photoshop
Max - 14K / 6 sec. @ 28.8
High - 9K / 4 sec. @ 28.8
Med - 5K / 3 sec. @ 28.8
Low - 3K / 2 sec @ 28.8
Of the above images optimized by Photoshop, the medium quality version has an adequate quality with the smallest file size, however I would choose the high quality version. The reason being that there is an increase in the vividness of the image between medium and high, and although the file size is nearly double, download time only increases by about one second. The degradation of quality between medium and low is pretty evident, causing me to dismiss the low version as a potential candidate.
Analysis:
In all cases you see above, Photoshop did a better job optimizing the photos than I did. I was able to get the file size down from the original image by reducing the image size, as well as blurring the background. I found it very time consuming trying to develop a number of methods to reduce file size as well as Photoshop, and in the end I gave up before getting close to the results Photoshop achieved.
The web palette optimized GIF looks nice if I want an interesting effect, however, it does not represent the picture well at all. I think Photoshop did a good job on the 32 color GIF it optimized, however I can still get better quality with a smaller file size by using the High JPEG optimized by Photoshop. If I want an even smaller file, I could use the Medium JPEG optimized by Photoshop. The reason the JPEG works well for this picture is because the background is very busy. Therefore the artifacts created by the JPEG compression process are not as noticeable. They do become noticeable, however, in the low JPEG optimized by Photoshop. The background also is the cause of the poor GIF compression. Since there are so many colors in the background, when the colors are indexed the result is a much poorer looking image.

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