Image formats are all around us, and they are present in the name of the particular photo, being labeled as “.format name”. That format name could be JPEG, TIFF, PNG or any other image format that you know of. But, let’s stop for a second and ask ourselves what do those abbreviations mean? I mean, JPEG couldn’t be a word, right? Well, I know you have a lot of questions, and image formatting isn’t that easy explained, but I’ll do my best to explain it to you and see which are the 10 best image formats for your image.
Image Formats that are most Popular
Like always, I’ve gone through several resources online in order to list the best out of the best image formats. Most of you might be familiar with the formats like .jpg or .png. The world of image formats are beyond that. That’s why I decided to list such known formats to make you familiar with them. So, if you are ready, below are the best image formats.
JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Expert Group is the most popular image format, widely used by documents, websites, digital cameras, etc. Being the most popular, JPEG can pride itself on being the most economical format, as the pictures take a very little size on your storage, being able to store 16.4 million colors. The downside here is that JPEG is that JPEG is a lossy format. It has to do a lot with compression, so whenever we convert the image into JPEG, we lose some amount of details that can be seen once we zoom in the picture, in form of blurry edges. However, the chances that you’ll notice this with your bare eye are almost equal to zero, making JPEG the king of image formats.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is another popular image format, and it sits comfortably between JPEG and BMP (which we’ll mention later). PNG is also a great format to convert your image, as it’s a lossless format, plus it supports semi-transparency and transparency. The disadvantage again goes to the file size, as it can sometimes be relatively large and old apps won’t support it.
Supporting only 256 colors, GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) isn’t the best when it comes to color reproduction and accuracy, but it serves well because it supports transparency, and the most important, it supports ANIMATION. Yes, those animated photos that you see on the internet are GIF files. However, semi-transparency isn’t supported here, and the images might look blurry and out of focus, due to a low quality of the format. Use GIF to create animations, only to replace the video file, which can take a lot of space.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is popular when it comes to web design and UI design. It’s a vector format, very useful in displaying logos, charts, maps, icons and such stuff, because it has one important feature, and that’s scalability. Sure, you can scale JPEG files, but with that comes the loss of quality. Unlike JPEG, SVG file remains intact, and you can resize it how much you want it, as it’s a VECTOR and not an IMAGE. SVG files are often generated in software for vector graphics such as CorelDraw.
TIF or TIFF stands for (Tagged Image File Format) is popular in areas such as professional photography and graphic art. Sure, it looks very good, but its poor compression abilities don’t make TIF that useful for a regular user. However, as TIF supports any color depth, pictures are always looking great, with precise coloring, but as we said, the lack of a good compression characteristic and the fact that some old programs won’t support it isn’t that great.
To be able to use RAW files, they must be processed into some of the formats from the list. RAW files are the most popular files when it comes to cameras, as the recorded file stored as a combination of various numbers is a RAW file, that we know. Sure, there are some apps that will let you manipulate with RAW files, in order to edit the core of the image, but they are often immediately converted to JPEG format. RAW files are non-compressed, which means that they take a lot of space, thus being converted to some less-quality formats.
BMP (Bitmap) is an amazing format, offering crystal-sharp and clear images, with precise color reproduction due to an infinite color depth of 16.4 million colors. Any image size is supported, as well as any image type. Also, any image viewer and editor supports BMP, as it’s a well-known format. BUT, it doesn’t support compression, which is a big flaw. Having that in mind, you should know that BMP files will often take a huge amount of space compared to JPEG or GIF. For example, BMP file could take you five times more space than JPEG file.
PCX stands for PiCture eXchange and its use is mostly in PC Paintbrush apps based on MS-DOS. Yes, it’s an old format, but Microsoft still uses it in their products, being a tyle of Bitmap, and an exchange and storage format. PCX doesn’t support a relatively wide variety of colors like 4-bit, 8-bit and 24-bit. However, PCX represents an uncompressed file format, so it may take some space in your storage.
9. JPEG 2000
JPEG is a successor of JPEG format, and it delivers a better compression than the standard JPEG format, offering both lossless and lossy compression. Surely, JPEG 2000 is a little better than JPEG, but it isn’t so popular, and that’s the reason it’s not in the first spot. For example, some apps like Microsoft Word or Firefox didn’t include the support for this format yet, and this is the only downside to this format.
TARGA (Truevision Graphics Adapter) also known as TGA, is an image file that dates back to 1984, when it was created by Truevision. If you haven’t heard about this format, well now you did. If you see this format, don’t worry, as your Photoshop or GIMP can open it. It’s a format that can be both raw and compressed, so file sizer may vary. I bet you’ll rarely see this type of file, and when you see it, you know how you can open it, as TARGA is now a less popular format than it was a decade ago.
Best Image Formats
Now you know the most widely used photo formats in the world. However, the sorting of these formats may change time to time as the image trends changes. But still, I don’t think any of the other formats are going to overtake JPG or PNG in near future. If you don’t believe me, just browse through your photo collection and take a count how many of them are either in the JPEG format or in the PNG. Then compare with the others that are in other formats. Got it?