Image Formats and How to Use Them

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If you have been blogging or working with graphics of any kind, you would know that there are many Image Formats in which you can save a digital photo, such as

  • JPG
  • GIF
  • PNG etc.

Students of Graphic Designing often ask that which format is the best one. It’s not about the best or worst, they all comprise different specifications, so one could be suitable at one place but not at the other. Today I’m describing the functionality and suitability of the famous and most used image formats out of 44 available file extensions.

Formats

different picture file size test

image courtesy The eMailing Experience

BMP: Bitmap

This format does not allow compression, so the images volume is high but the quality is first-class.  This format is use by Microsoft Windows graphics subsystem (GDI).

TIFF: Tagged Image File Format

This format was developed by a company called Aldus in collaboration with Microsoft. Tiff is a very “printing friendly” format, it is widely used for desktop printing, faxing and OCR (Optical Character Recovery, the method of digitally retrieving text from an image). One thing I like about this format is that we can preserve layers while saving from Photoshop.

PNG: Portable Network Graphic (also known as PING)

It allows data compression, but ‘lossless’, so the image quality is great, but volume is quite slender compared to BMP. This format was created as an answer to the GIF License.

There was a license that if you make a software that supports GIF, you had to pay them $5000. After PNG, the license has expired. What I like about this is that this format supports Transparency, your images can be transparent from some part, or absolutely background-less.

GIF: Graphics Interchange Format

It only supports 256 colors. Lack of color detail makes this format low in volume but it becomes unsuitable for scenery and portraits. The thing I like about this is that it supports metadata, or in simple English, this format can carry animations, and even sounds.

Raw File

Raw files are unprocessed information (data) from your camera, so no in-camera effects will be visible in this type. This format can be considered as a starting point for digital editing of your photos.

JPG or JPEG: (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

It is named after the group that invented this format. JPG is the most used digital image format. It supports customized amount of compression. High compression and full range of colors makes it the most popular format amongst everybody, especially for web related tasks, such as blogging. High compression makes the image ‘lossy’, but what I like about this is the middle-ground between volume and quality.

How to Use Different Image Types and Hit Bulls-eye

how to use image types

Desktop Publishing

Use PNG and TIFF files for any kind of printing. TIFF is a better choice for printing whereas PNG’s low volume makes it a better choice to send over the internet.

Web Standards

PNG, GIF and JPG works great for online previews. PNGs are relatively high in volume, but quality is the best you can get. GIFs are only good if you need an animation. JPG is the winner, providing little volume yet reasonable quality. If you are a blogger, go for JPG.

As ever, I’m trying to make this article easy to understand, rather than being technically precise. Kindly comment and tell what do you think about these kind short and easy-to-understand articles.

Raw

As ever, I’m trying to make this article easy to understand, rather than being technically precise. Kindly comment and tell what do you think about these kind short and easy-to-understand articles.files are the unprocessed information (data) from your camera.

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