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How to Work with Images/Pictures File Formats

    Picture File Formats

    There are several file formats used by graphic and web designers, and photographers.

    File Type: Description:
    JPEG (preffered for photos) JPG's support over 16 million colors, but slightly "distort" the image to compress the file size. For photos, the human eye cannot tell the subtle changes in color, but along straight edges and in pictures with large solid colors, distortion becomes very apparent. Used mostly for photos and web graphics. This file type is most common, because it is compressed (takes up not much space), and remains good quality. File extension is: .jpg. This is only file type that can be uploaded to Public Album of this website. When you save JPEG image in Paint program, the output quality is Medium (on scale of 5 it is about 3)
    GIF This file type is mostly used for web graphics. GIF File can be a still image or animation. Many banners are made of this file type to be animated. Advantage of this file type is that it can be optimized to meet file size requirements, and sometimes not look quality unlike JPEG looses quality while optimizing. File extension is: .gif.
    BMP It's Uncompressed file format. It keeps original best quality just as not optimized PNG or TIF described below, but it takes up so much space that it usually doesn't worth it, unless you really need to preserve quality. This file type is not recommended for photos or web graphics. File extension is: .bmp.
    PNG-24 Portable Network Graphics is a completely loss-less compression. Gradients come out much smoother and do not have the distortions that may appear in a JPG. It's almost same as BMP except it preserves transparency of image. use it only when you want to preserve full quality and transparency. File extension is: .png.
    PNG-8 Portable Network Graphics. Sometimes this is better than PNG-24 because it can be optimized with similar settings as GIF and reduce file size in some cases not loosing quality. File extension is: .png.
    RAW Usually all professional Photo Cameras have this file format available. Use it to preserve all data caught by image sensor of your camera. This file type takes up a lot of space, but preserves a lot of important data which can be adjusted later in Photoshop or other professional software, such as: Color Temperature, Color Tone, Brightness, Contrast, Exposure, Noise Reduction and few more advanced adjustments. This file format is used only by professional photographers.  File extension is: .raw .rc2 and few other ones. Different camera uses their preferred file extension.
    TIFF Tag Image File Format - similar to BMP, used mostly by Photoshop and some other software software. Takes up a medium amount of space preserving high quality pictures/photos. File extension is: .tif.

    Whichever format you decide on using, save all files in RGB color mode.



    To the left you can see differences between JPG and PNG formats. You can see how JPG leaves "ghosting" and distortion around the letters and how PNG's have retained the original quality.

    I hope now you have some understanding of picture file types. There are also different file types and compressions for Music And Video.

    Got tired of reading this? I didn't get tired or typing this :)

    Published on: 2006-03-18 Author: admin