Create an OpenCV 2 matrix from a JPEG-image in a buffer

I recently started to take a look at OpenCV for doing some (programmatic) image processing for a small project I’ll maybe talk about later on.

My problem: in my program I receive JPEG-images in a buffer over a network connection and not by opening a file. Now my question was: how to create an OpenCV Mat(rix) from this buffer? Normally should not fill a whole post, but it took me too much time to develop to not document it now.

Strange enough, even on Stackoverflow I only found partial answers. I did a half-hearted web-search and found nothing really complete. Here are the facts I gathered (no guarantee for their correctness, but this is my current state of understanding)

  1. OpenCV does not directly support the importation of JPEGs from a buffer (but it does support the reading of a file).
  2. You need to use a libjpeg-variant to create an uncompressed image which then can be imported into the Matrix
  3. OpenCV  needs images in BGR-colorspaces to be processed further on, by default images are in RGB-colorspace

When doing this kind of  processing I want to limit copies and processing time. Here’s the code I came up with:

class ImageProcessing
  struct jpeg_decompress_struct cinfo;
  struct jpeg_error_mgr jerr;

    cinfo.err = jpeg_std_error(&jerr);


  void handleImage(uint8_t *buffer, size_t size)
    jpeg_mem_src(&cinfo, buffer, size);

    switch (jpeg_read_header(&cinfo, TRUE)) {
    case JPEG_HEADER_OK:

    cinfo.out_color_space = JCS_EXT_BGR;


    cv::Mat src = cv::Mat(
                      cv::Size(cinfo.output_width, cinfo.output_height),

    while (cinfo.output_scanline < cinfo.output_height) {
      JSAMPLE *row = src.ptr(cinfo.output_scanline);
      jpeg_read_scanlines(&cinfo, &row, 1);


    cv::imshow("test", src);

Summary: I decode the JPEG-buffer using libpjeg-turbo (pre-installed) directly into the buffer allocated by cv::Mat, using the BGR-colorspace as expected by OpenCV.

Line 30: is where I’m telling libjpeg to decode directly to BGR-colorspace
Line 39-40: does the decoding line-by-line directly into the cv::Mat-buffer correspond to the line which can be easily retrieved by the cv::Mat::ptr()-method.

Careful, this code is just a snippet showing how I did. It is neither complete nor self-standing.

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3 thoughts on “Create an OpenCV 2 matrix from a JPEG-image in a buffer

  1. This looks straight forward.

    Do you know how OpenCV imread() function reads the JPG from file? I believe it should be easy to implement a corresponding function to process a network buffer in the same way OpenCV does it with files.

  2. Pingback: Create an OpenCV 2 matrix from a JPEG-image in a buffer #2 | Filter Failure

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