Graphic File Formats Comparison Essay

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This is a comparison of image file formats.

General[edit]

Ownership of the format and related information.

FormatFull nameOwnerBased FormatFile extensionMIME typeApplicationPatented
AbcAdvanced Bitonal CompressionLEAD Technologies.abcBitonal document and check images.[1]Yes
ADRGARC Digitized Raster Graphics.adrg
AdobeResourceAdobe SystemsTIFF?
ADRIARC Digitized Raster Images.adri
AIAdobe Illustrator DocumentAdobe Systems.aiapplication/illustrator, application/postscriptAdobe Illustrator files are editable using programs that support the format, such as Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, CorelDRAW, etc.Yes
Alias Pix image.pix, .matte, .mask,
.alpha, .als
Supported by GIMP
AMI.amiSupported by Amica Paint
ANIANI file formatMicrosoftRIFF.aniUsed by Microsoft Windows
ANIMElectronic Arts and Commodore AmigaIFF.iff, .animvideo/x-anim
APNGAnimated Portable Network GraphicsMozillaPNG.pngimage/png1.9 and OperaNo
Apple Icon ImageApple Inc..icnsUsed by macOS
APX.apxSupported by Ebuyer Photo Paint
ARTAOL.art
ARTPFS: 1st Publisher clip art.art
ARTBArtboard file formatMapdiva, LLC.artbVector image format; Artboard drawing files are editable using programs that support the format, such as Artboard and Ortelius
ASCII art.txt, .ansi, .texttext/plainSupported by GIMP
Authorware mapAdobe Systems.aamapplication/x-authorware-map
Authorware segAdobe Systems.aasapplication/x-authorware-seg
Authorware binAdobe Systems.aab, .x32, .u32,
.vox
application/x-authorware-bin
AutoCAD DXFDrawing Interchange FormatAutodesk.dxfimage/vnd.dxf
AWD.awdimage/awdUsed by PhotoPhilia
ARWSony Alpha RAWSonyTIFF.arw
BAYCasio RAWCasio.bay
BigTIFFTIFF.btf, .tiff, .tifimage/tiff
BMPraw-data unencoded or encoded bitmapsimple colour image format, far older than Microsoft; some .bmp encoding formats developed/owned by Microsoft.bmp, .dib, .rle,
.2bp (2bpp)
image/x-bmpUsed by many 2D applications.No
bmp compressorBit Map Compressor.hpc
BLENDresource archive (3D meshes, textures, auxiliary data).blendnative data package format of Blender
BPGBetter Portable GraphicsFabrice BellardHEVC.bpgSuggestion to replace JPEG, JavaScript decoder available[2]Yes
BRKBrooktrout Fax.brk
BSAVEBSAVE Image.BSVUsed by IBM PC.
CAMCasio CAMCasioJPEG.cam
CADRGCompressed ARC Digitized Raster Graphics.cadrg
CALCALS raster file format.cal, .cals, .ras, .dcl
Capture One RAWPhase One.cap
CIFFCamera Image File FormatCanon.crw, .ciff
CR2Canon RAW 2CanonTIFF.cr2
CDRCorelDRAW DocumentCorel Corporation.cdr, .ccx, .cdt, .cmxapplication/coreldrawCorelDRAW files are editable using programs that support the format, such as CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator, Inkscape, etc.Yes
CGMComputer Graphics Metafile.cgmimage/cgmCGM files are editable using programs that support the format, such as IBM Lotus Freelance Graphics, Inkscape, etc.
CINCineon.cinimage/cineon
Corel Paint Shop Pro Pattern.patSupported by Corel Paint Shop Pro
CPCCartesian Perceptual CompressionCartesian Products, Inc..cpc, .cpiimage/cpiHighly compressed raster imaging format.Yes
CPKTAPP5-CPKT FormatJPEG.jpg, .jpe, .jpegimage/jpegUsed by PROSERPINE.
CPTCorel Photo-Paint Image.cptVariant of TIFF up to and including version 6.0; proprietary as of 7.0 (1997)
Crack ArtDetlef Röttger & Jan Borchers.ca1, .ca2, .ca3An application on Atari ST
CUT.cutUsed by DSHELL.
CMYK.cmyk
CMYKA.cmyka
DCSKodak DCS Pro RAWKodak.dcs
DCRDigital Camera RawKodakTIFF.dcr
DDSDirectDraw SurfaceMicrosoft.dds
DegasDesign & Entertainment Graphic Arts SystemIntegral Solutions.pi1, .pi2, .pi3,
.pc1, .pc2, .pc3
An application on Atari ST
DNGDigital NegativeAdobe SystemsCompatible with ISO 12234-2, TIFF/EP[3].dngA raw image format suitable as an archival format and as the native raw format of digital cameras[4]No: no known intellectual property encumbrances or license requirements[5]
DIADia DrawingXML.diaUsed by Dia
DICOMDigital Imaging and Communications in MedicineNational Electrical Manufacturers Association.dcm, .dicomapplication/dicom[6]Numerous biomedical imaging applications[6] (e.g. OsiriX, XMedCon), some general bitmap graphics applications (e.g. GIMP, Photoshop)
DjVuDjVuAT&T Research.djvu, .djvimage/vnd.djvu
Doodle.dooAn application on Atari ST
DPXDigital Picture eXchange file format.dpximage/dpx
DRFKodak Pro Back RAWKodak.drf
Dr. Halo.cut
Encapsulated PostScriptpage description/scripting language (see PostScript)Adobe.epi, .eps, .eps2,
.eps3, .epsf, .epsi,
.ept
application/postscriptprinting/publishing industry standard format
ECWEnhanced Compressed WaveletERDAS.ecwWavelet image format used primarily with geo-referenced aerial and satellite imageryNo
EDGEDGE2 Original FormatTAKABO.edgUsed by EDGE2
EMFEnhanced Metafile FormatMicrosoft.emf, .emzMicrosoft Office
EMF+Enhanced Metafile Format Plus ExtensionsMicrosoft.emf, .emz
ERFEPSON RAWEPSONTIFF.erf
ERIEntis Rasterized Image format.eri
ExifExchangeable Image File Format.exif
EVAExtended Vector AnimationSharp Corporation.evaapplication/x-eva
EXROpenEXRILM.exrimage/exrUsed in film effects for 3d rendering and hdr images.?
FarbfeldLaslo Hunhold.ffVery simple lossless bitmap format used for image processing.No
FIFFractal Image Format.fif
FIGFIG format.figapplication/x-xfigSupported by Xfig
FITSFlexible Image Transport System.fit, .fitsScientific (esp. astronomical) data acquisition
FLAFlash Source File.fla
FLICAutodesk.fli, .flc, .flx, .flh, .fltSupported by GIMP
FLIFFree Lossless Image Format.flif, .flfGeneral-purpose lossless image compression, superior compression.No
Kivio Document.flwSupported by Kivio
FPXFlashPix (1.0.2).fpximage/vnd.fpx
FreeHandAdobe Systems.fh4, .fh5, .fh7,
.fh8, .fhc, .fh
image/x-freehand
FutureSplashAdobe Systems.splapplication/futuresplash
FXT3DFX.fxt
GEGL compositionXML.xmlapplication/xmlUsed by GEGL
Gerber FormatThe Gerber Format Specification[7]UcamcoPrintable ASCII.gbrapplication/vnd.gerberPrinted Circuit Board or PCB softwareNo
GIFGraphics Interchange FormatCompuServe,
Unisys (compression algorithm)
.gif, .gfa, .giffimage/gifSupported by most web browsers. Supports transparency and animation.Expired
GIMP brushThe GIMP Team.gbrSupported by GIMP
GIMP compressed XJT imageThe GIMP TeamJPEG, tar.xjt,
.xjtgz (compressed),
.xjtbz2 (compressed)
None. Lossy format, not suitable for editingSupported by GIMP
GIHGimp image hoseThe GIMP Team.gihSupported by GIMP
GIMP patternsThe GIMP Team.patSupported by GIMP
GRA.graUsed by QSV and QLD.
G3 Fax.g3Supported by GIMP
Hasselblad 3FR RAWTIFF.3fr
Hasselblad/Imacon FFF.fff
HDRiTIFF.tif, .tiffimage/tiff
HGHyper Graphic Press.hgSupported by some old Japanese applications.
ICERNASAMars Rovers
IIQ RAWIntelligent Image Quality RAWPhase One.iiq
IMA.ima.ima team.imaFormat for photographic images with HDR encoding.No
IMG (GEM Paint).imgSupported by GEM Paint
IMG (ERDAS IMAGINE)ERDAS IMAGINEERDASHierarchical File Architecture (HFA).imgImage format used primarily with geo-referenced imagery, thematic grid data, and elevation grid data.Yes
im4Masahide Hirabayashi.im4
Inkscape SVGThe Inkscape TeamSVG.svg, .svgzimage/svg+xmlUsed by Inkscape
ICOICO file formatMicrosoft.ico, .curimage/vnd.Microsoft.icon, image/x-iconUsed by Microsoft Windows and web browsers as favicon
ICSImage Cytometry Standard.ics, .ids
IGESInitial Graphics Exchange Specification.igsimage/igesCAD/CAMinteroperabilityNo
ILBMInterLeaved BitMapElectronic Arts and Commodore AmigaIFF.iff, .ilbm, .lbmimage/x-ilbmPlanar graphics format designed for Amiga graphics hardware.No
IPTC/NAAIPTC/NAATIFF
JBIGJoint Bi-level Image Experts Group.jbig, .bie, .jbg
JBIG2Joint Bi-level Image Experts Group
JNGJPEG Network Graphics.jngimage/x-jngNo
JPEGJoint Photographic Experts GroupJoint Photographic Experts Group.jpg, .jpeg, .jpe
(containers:
.jif, .jfif, .jfi)
image/jpegPhotographic images. Supported by most web browsers.Expired (see also Forgent#JPEG)
JPEG 2000Joint Photographic Experts Group 2000Joint Photographic Experts Group.jp2, .j2c, .jpc,
.j2k, .jpx
image/jp2Photographic images, eventual replacement for JPEG.Yes (no licence costs for part 1)
JPEG-LSJoint Photographic Experts Group.jls
JPEG-HDRDolby Laboratories/BrightSide TechnologiesJPEGHDR format based on RGBE floating-point encoding and backward-compatible extensions to JFIF format; included in JPEG XT Part 2.
JPEG XTJoint Photographic Experts GroupBackwards-compatible extension of the JPEG format for high bit depth and floating point HDR encoding of lossy and lossless images
JPEG XR / HD PhotoJPEG XR / HD PhotoMicrosoft.wdp, .hdp, .jxrimage/vnd.ms-photoTIFF-like container format with HDR encoding for photographic imagesYes (royalty-free)
J6IRICOHJPEG.j6iUsed by RICOH DC-1/2
KDCKodak DC40/DC50 RAWKodakTIFF.kdc
KOA.koa,
.gg (compressed)
Supported by Koala Paint
KIFFKt Interchange File Format.kif, .kiff
KISS CEL.celSupported by GIMP
Kodak TIFF extensionsKodakTIFF.tif
Kodak YCCKodak.pcd
KQPMinoltaJPEG.kqp
K25Kodak DC25 RAWKodakTIFF.k25
Leaf Mosaic RAWTIFF.mos
LightStream Picture.lsp
Logluv TIFFGreg WardTIFFSupported by Libtiff
Mac Paint.pnt, .mac
MDCMinolta RD175 FormatMinolta.mdc
METOS/2 Metafile Format.metSupported by SAS/GRAPH
MNGMultiple-image Network GraphicsPNG.mngvideo/x-mngNo
MO:DCAMO:DCAIBM.mda, .ica, .mmr,
.afp
imageIBM's Content Manager and Image PlusYes
MSPMicrosoft PaintMicrosoft.msp
MYDMyd format.myd
MYVMyv vector format.myv
NEFNikon RAWNikonTIFF.nef
MEFMamiya RAWMamiyaTIFF.mef
NeochromeDave Staugas.neoAn application on Atari ST
MAGMAKIchan Graphic loaderWoody-Rinn.magUsed by many old Japanese applications.
MAKIMAKIchan net formatWoody-Rinn.mki
MIFFMagick image file formatImageMagick Studio.miffSupported by ImageMagick
MSAMisachan FileHirohumi Iguchi.msaSupported by old Japanese applications
MSLMagick Scripting LanguageImageMagick Studio.mslSupported by ImageMagick
MVGMagick Vector GraphicsImageMagick Studio.mvgSupported by ImageMagick
MPCMagick Persistent Cache image file formatImageMagick Studio.mpcSupported by ImageMagick
MRWMinolta RAWMinolta.mrw
NSK-TIFFNSK-TIFFNihon Shinbun Kyokai (日本新聞協会)TIFF
OAZOAZ FaxOaz Communications.oazUsed by NetFax Manager
ODGOpenDocument drawing.odg
ORAOpenRasterfreedesktop.orgOpenDocument/XML.oraDrawPile, GIMP, Krita, MyPaint, Nathive, PintaNo
ORFOlympus RAWOlympusTIFF.orf
ORTLOrtelius file formatMapdiva, LLC.ortlVector image/map format; used by Ortelius
PAMportable arbitrary map file format.pamimage/x-portable-arbitrarymapNo
Panasonic RAWPanasonicTIFF.raw, .rw2
PCIFPolyomino Compressed Image Format.pcf
PhaseOne P25/P30/P45 RAWPhase One.tif, .tiff
PictureGear Pocket Image.prc
PBMPortable Bitmap File Format.pbmimage/x-portable-bitmapNo
PCDKodak ImagePac Photo CDKodak.pcdimage/jpcd
PCFPixel Coordination Format.pcfimage/pcf
PCXZSoft PC Paintbrush FileZSoft Corporation.pcx, .pcc, .dcximage/x-pcxDated rle packed indexed image format, used in some early 3d shooting games like Unreal Tournament as it takes up very little space and is easy to decode.?
PDFPortable Document FormatAdobe Systems.pdf, .epdfapplication/pdf
PDNPaint.NET ImagedotPDN LLC.pdnPreferred and supported by Paint.NET
PEFPENTAX RAWPENTAXTIFF.pef
PGFProgressive Graphics Filexeraina GmbH.pgfPhotographic images, eventual replacement for JPEG.No
PGMPortable Graymap File Format.pgmimage/x-portable-graymapNo
PGMLPrecision Graphics Markup LanguageAdobe Systems, IBM, Netscape, Sun MicrosystemsNo
Photochrome.pcs
PNMPortable Anymap File Format.pnmimage/x-portable-anymapNo
PTXPentax RAW Bitmap GraphicPentax.ptx
PiYanagisawa.piUsed by some old Japanese applications.
PICYanagisawa PICYanagisawa.picUsed by many old Japanese applications.
PICDoGA PICProject Team DoGA.picUsed by DoGA CGA System.
PICTMacintosh PICT FormatApple Inc..pict, .pic, .pct,
.pct1, .pct2
image/pictMetafile for Classic Mac OS, not meant for print publishing.Likely expired
PICtorJohn Bridges, Doug Wolfgram.picSupported by PCPaint
PIC2Yanagisawa.p2Supported by some old Japanese applications.
PLDPhotoLine DocumentComputerinsel GmbH.pldapplication/pldNative format of the PhotoLine image editing program.?
PMPSonyJPEG.pmpUsed by Sony Cyber-Shot
PNGPortable Network GraphicsWorld Wide Web Consortium.pngimage/pngW3C endorsed replacement for GIF. Supported by most web browsers.No
PostScriptpage description/scripting language, levels 1–3Adobe.ps, .ps2, .ps3printing/publishing industry standard format
PPMPortable Pixmap File Format.ppmimage/x-portable-pixmapVery easy to understand. Programs to analyze and write to this format are easily written.No
PSDPhotoshop DocumentAdobe Systems.psd, .psb, .pdb,
.pdd
image/vnd.adobe.photoshop[8]Used mainly for storing image manipulation & editing data.Yes
PSPPaint Shop Pro DocumentCorel Corporation.psp, .tub,
.pspimage
image/x-pspIt can only be opened in programs that support the format, such as Paint Shop Pro, The GIMP, etc.?
PSX TIM.tim
PSX TIM2Sony PlayStation Tim2Sony.tm2, .strUsed by PlayStation 2
PXA.pxaUsed by Pixia
QuickTime ImageApple Inc..qtif, .qti, .qif
Q0.q0
Q4XLD4MAJYO.q4
RADGregory Ward Larson.radRadiance
RAFFujifilm RAWFujifilm.raf
RGBimage/colourmap data in RGB format.rgb
RGBAimage/colourmap data in RGB format, with Alpha channel.rgba
RGBEGregory Ward Larson.hdrimage/vnd.radianceRadiance, most HDR imaging software
R3DRED REDCODE RAWRed.r3d
SAISYSTEMAX.saiSupported by PaintTool SAI
SCTScitex Continuous Tone Picture.sct
SDASun Microsystems.sdaSupported by StarOffice Draw 3–5
SDDSun Microsystems.sddSupported by StarOffice Draw 3–5
SFWSeattle File Works imageSeattle File WorksJPEG (JFIF).sfw, .pwpJPEG-converters sfwjpg and pwpjpg for Unix/Linux and Windows
SGBSun Microsystems.sgbSupported by StarOffice Graphics 2
SGISilicon Graphics Image.sgi, .rgb, .rgba,
.bw, .int, .inta,
.icon
Shockwave DirectorAdobe Systems.dir, .dcr, .dxr, .fgdapplication/x-directorUsed by Adobe Shockwave.
SHAPEDia StencilSVG.shapeUsed by Dia.
SK.skSupported by Skencil
SketchUp Format.skp, .skbSupported by SketchUp
SMLKivio stencil.smlSupported by Kivio
SRFSony RAW FileSonyTIFF.srf, .sr2
SUNSun rasterfileSun Microsystems.sun, .ras, .rs, .im1,
.im8, .im24, .im32
Supported by GIMP
STXSBIG CCD camera ST-x.stx, .st4, .st5,
.st6, .st7, .st8,
.st9
SView5 GraphicsAndreas Kleinert.svg/.sgxUsed by SView5-Library/SDK
SVGScalable Vector GraphicsWorld Wide Web ConsortiumXML.svg,
.svgz (compressed)
image/svg+xmlScriptable vector image format; supported by major web browsers, occasionally via plug-in.No
SWFShockwave FlashAdobe Systems.swfapplication/x-shockwave-flashSupported by many web browsers via plug-in.
SXDOpenOffice.org 1.0 drawing format.sxd
TGATruevision TargaTruevision Inc..tga, .tpicimage/tgaUsed by many 3D rendering applications and 3d games.Yes?
TIFFTagged Image File FormatAdobe Systems.tiff, .tifimage/tiffDocument scanning and imaging format, also functions as a container.No
TIFF/EPTag Image File Format / Electronic PhotographyInternational Organization for StandardizationTIFF.tiff, .tif
TIFF-FXTag Image File Format Fax eXtendedTIFF.tiff, .tifimage/tiff-fx
Tiny StuffDavid Mumper.tny, .tn1, .tn2, .tn3,
.tn4, .tn5, tn6
An application on Atari ST
TLG5.tlgUsed by KiriKiri
TLG6.tlgUsed by KiriKiri
UFOUlead File for Objects.ufo
VMLVector Markup LanguageMicrosoftXML.htm, .htmlapplication/vnd. openxmlformats-officedocument. vmlDrawingInternet Explorer, Microsoft OfficeNo
WBMPWireless Application Protocol Bitmap FormatOpen Mobile Alliance (formerly WAP Forum).wbmp, .wbm, .wbpimage/vnd.wap.wbmpUsed in WAP-pagesNo
WebPWebP image formatGoogle.webpimage/webpProvides an alternative to JPEG, PNG and GIF with superior compressionYes (royalty-free)
WinFaxSymantec.wfx, fxs, fxo
WMFWindows Metafile FormatMicrosoft.wmf, .wmz
WordPerfect Graphics File.wpg
XAMLExtensible Application Markup LanguageMicrosoftXML.xamlapplication/xaml+xmlUsed by Windows Presentation Foundation and Microsoft Silverlight.?
XARXarXaraXar (graphics).xarapplication/vnd.xaraUsed by Xara Photo & Graphic DesignerNo
XBMX BitMap, colour variant of original black-and-white bitmap (bmp) format.xbm, .bm,
.icon, .bitmap
image/x-xbitmapUsed by many legacy Unix applications.
XCFXCF, name derived from eXperimental Computing FacilityThe GIMP Team.xcf,
.xcfbz2 (compressed),
.xcfgz (compressed)
application/x-gimp-imageUsed by GIMP
XPMX-Pixmap.xpm, .pmimage/x-xpmUsed by many legacy Unix applications.
X3FSIGMA RAWSIGMA.x3f
XWDxwud X11 window dumper/undumper screenshot image.xwd, .x11Used by X Window System
XYZRPG Maker image fileASCII.xyzRPG MakerNo
YCbCr.ycbcr
YCbCrA.ycbcra
YUV.yuv
ZDT.zdtUsed by TECH Win
FormatFull nameOwnerBased FormatFile extensionMIME typeApplicationPatented

Technical details[edit]

FormatCompression
algorithm
Raster/
vector
Color depthIndexed colorTransparencyMetadataInterlacingMulti-pageAnimationLayersColor managementExtend­ableHDR format
AILossy and losslessBoth1, 8, 24, and 32 (possibly with multiple palettes)YesYesYesNoYesNoYesYesUnknownNo
BMPNone, RLE, JPEG, and PNGRaster1, 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, and 64YesYesNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNo
BPGHEVC, Lossy and losslessRaster8 to 14 bits per channelNoYesYesNoNoYesUnknownYesUnknownUnknown
CDRLossy and losslessBoth1, 8, 24,and 32 (multiple palettes)YesYesYesNoYesNoYesYesUnknownNo
CPCCPCRaster1NoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoYes, via embedded dictionaryNo
EPSNone, LZW, DEFLATE, RLE, DCTBothDevice specificNoYesYesN/AYesNoYesYesYesYes
EXRNone, RLE, ZIP, Piz, PXR24, and B44, B44A, DWAA, DWABRaster16–128 (floating-point)NoYesYesNoYesNoYesYesYesYes
FarbfeldNoneRaster64NoYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
FLIFLossless, MANIAC entropy codingRaster1 to 16 bits per channelYesYesYesYes, Adam∞NoYesNoYesYes, via chunksYes, with suitable color profile
GIFLZWRasterIndexed (1bpc to 8bpc) and grayscale (8bpc)YesYes; 1bpp plane-only mask using color indexYesYesYesYesYesNoYes (GIF89a)No
HD Photo / JPEG XRLossy and lossless bi-orthogonal transformRaster1, 2, 8, 16, 24, 32, 48, 64, and 128 (floating-point)NoYesYesYesYesNoNoYesYesYes
ILBMOptional run-length encodingRaster1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 64 EHB, 128, 256 (8-bit), 4,096 (HAM6 pseudo 12-bit), 4,096 pure 12-bit, 262, 144 (HAM8 pseudo 18-bit), and 24-bitYesNoYesYesNoYes,
Palette-shifting
NoNoYesNo
IMALossy and lossless original mutiresolution analysis transformationRaster8-bit, 16-bitinteger, 32-bitfloating-pointNoYesYesNoNoNoNoYesYesYes
JPEGLossy (and partly lossless), DCT, RLE, and Huffman predictive nearest neighborRaster8-bit (greyscale), 12-bit, and 24-bitNoNoYesYesNoNoNoYesNoNo (see unofficial JPEG-HDR)
JPEG 2000Lossy and lossless (DWT)Raster8 and 16 (greyscale) with possibly color up to 48-bitNoYesYesYesNoNoNoYesUnknownNo
KRANoneBothgrayscale, RGB, XYZ (8bpc, 16bpc, float16bpc, float32bpc), CMYK, L*a*b* and YCbCr (8bpc, 16bpc, float32bpc)NoYesYesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
ORALosslessBoth1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, 48, and 64YesYesYesYesYesNoYesYesYesYes
PAMNoneRasterUp to 16NoYesYesNoYesNoNoNoYesNo
PCXNone, RLERaster1, 2, 4, 8, 24 and 32YesYesNoNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
PGFLossy and lossless (DWT)Rastergrayscale: 1, 8, 16, 31; RGB: 12, 16, 24, 32, and 48YesYesYesYesNoNoNoNoUnknownNo
PICTNone, RLE, and QuickTimeBoth1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 24, and 32YesYesYesUnknownNoNoNoUnknownNo?No
PLDOptional ZIP, JPEGBoth1, 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, 48, and 64UnknownYesYesUnknownYesYesYesYesYesYes
PNGLossless and DEFLATERasterbitmap (1bpc), indexed (8bpc), grayscale and RGB (8bpc, 16bpc)YesYes; indexed, grayscale and RGBYesYes, Adam7 algorithmNoNo (but see MNG and APNG)NoYesYes, via chunksNo, see discussion
PPMNoneRasterUp to 16NoNoYesNoYesNoNoNoNoNo
PSD and PSBNone and RLEBothbitmap (1bpc), duotone, indexed (8bpc), grayscale, RGB, CMYK, Lab and multichannel (8bpc, 16bpc, 32bpc)YesYes; indexed, grayscale, RGB, CMYK and LabYesN/ANoYesYesYesNo?Yes

GIF or TIFF? JPEG or PNG? If the mention of these acronyms makes your head spin, fear not. There are lots of different formats for digital images, and they all have their purpose.

When it comes to image types, there are a few things to keep in mind when determining which one will fit your needs best.

In this post, we’ll take a look at four of the most common image formats currently used around the home or office and explain the benefits or drawbacks of each format.

Type of Use:

The way you’re planning on using an image will have a big impact on which file format you decide to go with. Will you be printing it? Emailing it? Uploading to a website? The main influences in your decision can be broken down into the following three basic factors:

Compression: Is it important that the particular image remain true, or is it okay to sacrifice some quality in exchange for a faster loading or sending?

File Size: Do you have more storage space than you’ll ever fill up, or are you working with limited hard drive or server space?

Speed of Transmission: Do you plan on sending the file frequently, like within emails, or documents?

GIF:

In the early days of the web, the GIF was widely used because of its ability to compress images into very small file sizes. Back when everyone was on dial-up Internet connections, that was crucial. As people started to adopt cable and DSL connections over time, the popularity of GIFs gave way to JPEGs, which are larger files, but boast better image quality than GIF. But the scrappy GIF has made a comeback in recent years, because of animated GIFs: – small image files that load quickly and are essentially looping mini-movies.

BENEFITS: Small file size allows for quick loading.

DRAWBACKS: Standard GIFS can only render from a 256 color palette; are not suitable for use in professional applications like publishing.

JPEG:

This is probably the type of image file that you see most often in your day to day life on the Internet and with most digital cameras. JPEG is a compressed image format which drops unneeded color information that can’t be detected by the human eye from the image. This is known as lossy compression and is what allows JPEG to achieve such small file sizes.

JPEGs work best when dealing with photographs and documents with smooth variations of color. It is not a good choice for textual documents or documents with solid color objects as the sharp lines between colors will create artifacts in the image, causing the text or objects to have a ringed appearance.

BENEFITS: Most widely-used image type, widely adaptable. Compression can be adjusted to achieve a balance between the quality of the image and the file size.

DRAWBACKS: JPEGs use lossy compression which means that image quality is lost in exchange for size; not suitable for text documents.

PNG:

PNG is a lossless compressed format, which makes it good for both photographs and text documents. A PNG will generally be larger than a JPEG, and sometimes smaller than a TIFF.

Interestingly, it was originally developed to replace the GIF, but the formats are drastically different, and both have a place in today’s computer environments. PNG supports more colors than GIF images as well as improved transparency. It is a useful format for line graphics and wordmarks as the lines and text will show up crisply and cleanly in the output image.

BENEFITS: Compress images without losing quality; suitable for text documents.

DRAWBACKS: Larger file size than JPEGs; not suitable for professional quality print graphics.

TIFF:

TIFF is a very adaptable format that allows for multiple pages in a single file, similar to a PDF document. TIFF also supports both lossless and lossy compression, allowing for each page to be compressed differently. Of all the image formats, this one is the best solution for digitizing workplace documents.

TIFF can be compressed using JPEG compression, which is lossy but combines the reduced file size with the ability to have multiple images in one file.

Like PNG, TIFF can be a lossless format, which means that essentially, what you see is what you get. It is commonly used in the layout of newspapers, magazines and the like, because a TIFF (or TIF) will appear on the printed page just as it appears on a computer monitor. That also makes it a good choice for scanned documents – and actually, that’s exactly what the format was first developed for in the 1980s.

BENEFITS: Can have more than one page per file (multipaged); can be lossless to allow editing and re-saving without losing image quality; the choice of document archiving and publishing professionals worldwide.

DRAWBACKS: Not all TIFF image viewers support viewing multipage TIFF images.

And a couple other formats…

  • BMP (Bitmap): This is an old image format that is still used on rare occasions, but mostly has been surpassed by other formats that are more useful in the modern computing environment.
  • Vector images or vector graphics (variety of file extensions): These are images that are composed of paths, with a start and end point, and other points along the way to describe lines, squares, arcs and curves to create simple or complex images. This allows them to be scaled to virtually any size with no loss in quality. Vector formats are widely used in the professional design community and are created by such applications as Adobe Illustrator.
  • RAW (variety of file extensions): Digital cameras have the option to shoot in this format, and most professional photographers prefer it as it allows them to save their image with minimal loss of information to be later edited. RAW images are very large and the files must eventually be converted to a different format such as JPEG to be viewed and shared practically.

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