What Are JPEG, JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF & Other Image File Formats? - PC SEEKERS

What Are JPEG, JPG, PNG, BMP, TIFF & Other Image File Formats?

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay


If you take photos or download wallpapers for your desktop and home screen or edit them in Photoshop then you must have come across multiple image file formats like JPEG, JPG, JFIF, PNG, GIF and so on. So what are these image formats and which one suits you best? Let's learn.

Also Read: What Are File Extensions In Windows?


JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. You don't have to be an expert to use it, despite the fancy sounding name, as it is an extremely common format in the world of photos/images. JPEGs are popular for number of reasons but one of the biggest is actually that is saves a lot of space compared to older formats like BMP. To achieve these space savings, JPEGs use what is called "LOSSY compression". So when you save an image in JPEG, a lot of the data gets discarded to reduce the file size. The degree of compression can be adjusted allowing a selectable trade-off between the file size and image quality.

JPEG compression only works well with photos but it struggles with sharp edges and curves that you often find in non-photographic images such as diagrams or design elements.


There is no actual difference between JPG and JPEG file formats except the fact that JPG uses one less. This is due to older versions of Windows required 3 letter file format extensions.


BMP file format aka Bitmap image file was once upon a time a very commonly used file format due to its simplicity and compatibility across devices but has since fallen out of favour after the arrival of JPEG image file format. BMP image files are uncompressed images unlike JPEG counter-parts. But due to the fact that a human eye is not that good in noticing lots of brightness differences over a small area and to save more space, JPEG became a widely used standard for images.



JFIF stands for JPEG File Interchange Format. This format is used for exchanging JPEG encoded files compliant with JPEG Interchange Format (JIF). All JPEGs are JFIFs.



GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. This image format uses losses compression which is a much better alternative for JPEG image format when it comes to sharp edges and curves in logos and other design elements. GIFs can also even be animated by showing multiple images in rapid succession but the huge drawback is that they are only limited to 256 colours which means they often look grainy when used for more complex images.


Also Read: Understanding USB Naming Scheme - USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 



So if you want no loss in image quality without the huge file sizes, what do you do? You can turn to the increasingly popular PNG image file format. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics. As the name suggests this was designed for sending images over the internet. PNGs can reduce the file sizes of graphics heavy images without introducing compression artifacts the way JPEG and GIF can. Though the lossless compression means your file size will be larger, so keep this trade-off in mind. PNG also supports transparency meaning image editors and web browsers can understand that certain areas of the image are meant to be transparent. 


Note: Image editors often use checkered areas to indicate transparency.



TIF stands for Tagged Image File Format. Of course in few cases image quality is of prime importance and you don't always care about storage and file sizes such as in professional photography settings, in such cases TIF is used. Although TIF can use compression, it also supports uncompressed images as well as many different colour spaces and among options making it popular among photographers. 



You might also have come images in the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) format. SVG images can be resized as much as one likes with little to no loss in quality meaning file sizes are very small. 

Raw Images:

This is a really important format which actually no format at all. Raw Images are also sometimes referred to as digital negatives. A Raw file or image is not an actual picture, just like a negative from an old 35mm Film Camera, but it contains the information which is needed to create one. RAW image is a very lightly processed file that contains much of the original information captured by the camera sensor itself. RAW files require special codecs to open them as images on a desktop image editor. RAW images are favoured by photographers for very obvious reasons.


Check out our Learn Section to more about various other topics.


What image file formats have you come across recently and which file formats you usually use? Do let us know down in the comments section below.

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