What image format is best to use
Image files can be saved in various formats, depending on the usage that those will be put through. There are both lossless and lossy file formats in use for storing images. Each format differs from others in terms of quality, usability, and size of files. Lossless formats usually produce the best quality images, but correspondingly, take up more storage space than other formats. Lossy formats, in spite of having lesser quality, use considerably lesser space.
Some of the lossless formats that you may have come across in course of your work are,
- GIF – The name GIF is actually an abbreviation for Graphics Interchange Format. GIF, a lossless format, also supports animation in images, and hence is widely used to display small cartoons, icons, etc. The drawbacks of the format are that it can only display small, simple images, and has a limited, 256-color palette.
- PNG – The name of PNG is an abbreviation of Portable Network Graphics. This image format is almost completely lossless, but can produce giant sized files. PNG is better than GIF, because it supports true color (16 million colors) and correspondingly, provides excellent results when the image has large areas that are uniformly colored.
- BMP – The Bitmap format created by Microsoft®, bitmap is an uncompressed format that can produce high quality, uncompressed images. The images look best when left uncompressed, and do not show any appreciable deterioration in quality even with repeated edits. The only drawback is the large file size.
- RAW – RAW is a family of image formats supported by many popular digital cameras. The images usually require to be converted to other formats before these can be viewed outside the camera.
Some lossy formats that you may often come across are:
- JPG (or JPEG) – This is one of the most widely used formats, and if you download wallpapers or images from the internet, those will usually be of this format. JPEG (the abbreviation of Joint Photographic Experts Group), is a lossy format, which suffers from rapid degradation in image quality with each repeated edit. The format also has an almost lossless version, but the image size becomes considerably large in that variation. Many digital cameras support this format, and allow photos to be snapped in this format directly, in order to ensure lesser usage of storage space.
- TIFF (abbreviation for Tagged Image File Format) – It is a file format that can produce both lossy and lossless images. TIFF is also supported by some digital cameras.
These are the most popular formats used in storing and manipulating images. Each has its pros and cons, depending on quality, the way it can be used, and the size of the files stored in the formats. Choose yours based on your requirements.
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