Image file types May 25 2016, 0 Comments

Extensions to images are numerous, which can sometimes be confusing, especially if you are not aware of them. The most common types in the web and in stock photo libraries include: JPEG, PNG and GIF, and many more; all of them are unique in their own way.

Depending on your project and the content, one image type may be preferable over another. So how can you choose the appropriate file type for your project? We put together a quick guideline for the common image types:

JPEG/JPG

JPEGs are always a safe option because they can be viewed on any device, which makes it perfect for use on web pages. This property has also made JPEG images the most prevalent on the web, thus you get many options when searching on the web.

Besides popularity, these pictures contain a wide range of quality levels, with a single picture containing as much as 16.8 million colours. This allows you to compress the image to have less colour hence a smaller file size when needed, although at a lower quality. The opposite, too, can be done, taking a small-sized image and enlarging it. However, this will adversely affect quality progressively as you keep enlarging, so it’s not always advisable.

Before altering the size of an image, carefully consider the compression rate you use to avoid getting an unusable picture. It is important to know beforehand the purpose of the image to be able to appropriately size the image.

Briefly, JPEGs are good for digital photos to share but they aren’t as suitable for logos or animations.

GIF

You may recognize GIFs as those animated pictures, but they can also be in still format. However, they don’t have as much colour compared to JPEGs, holding only up to 256 colours compared to JPEG’s 16.8 million. GIFs hold larger blocks of colour, which means that they can’t hold as much details, plus they are usually larger in size.

They have a few advantages, however, which still makes GIF a popular image format. For one, you can make the background transparent, getting rid of the annoying background colour. Without a background, the image can be placed on top of another image without displaying an outline. This also makes it perfect for logos on websites. Besides, you can also reduce its size when you want to, from the maximum to a minimum of 2.

So, you’d probably spring for a GIF image type when you need a logo or icon for your blog, but you should avoid it when you need colour for digital photos.

PNG

Images with this file type are larger than JPEGs. However, they can be compressed and made smaller without diminishing the overall quality of the image, which makes them popular. On the other hand, some browsers don’t support PNG images, hence they aren’t the best for websites or blogs.

These images appear in 2 types, PNG-6 and PNG-24, and it’s important to know the difference between the two:

  • PNG-8 is capable of a maximum up to 256 colours, although you can compress the image
  • PNG-24 can contain millions of colours, although it can be quite large

In short, this format is great when used for smaller files, but for creating web content or larger images, not the best.