If you are into photography or maybe photo editing it may be interesting to know what the different picture formats are. Besides that you may also want to know, specially as a photo editor, which quality they deliver.
I’ll give you a short overview of the most commonly used types.
The acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. This is a type of lossy compression (a way of reducing the data size by losing some data). Most digital cameras deliver pictures in this type of format. The degree of compression can be selected, a certain compromise should be made between the size of the file and the quality of the picture.
Or simply bitmap. This is a type of raster graphics file format (data structured in a rectangular grid or pixel or colors). As the name implies this is actually a “map of bits”. In uncompressed bitmaps (which most of them are), the image pixels are stored with a color depth of 1, 4, 8, 16, 24, 32, 48 or 64.
These are generally larger files than JPEG. Which is logical since they are uncompressed.
Portable Network Graphics. This is a bitmapped image (which you now know what it is) format. This type allows lossless data compression (this allows the exact original data to be reconstructed from the compressed data). This type of image was created as counterpart for GIF (I’ll explain in a minute). PNG is “open source” so to speak… It doesn’t require a patent license to use. So… Small file, high quality.
This is the type of image you really want to use when creating a website. Because of the rather small file size, the webpage will be loaded very quickly.
Stand for Graphics Interchange Format. Also this type is a bitmap image format and it supports up to 8 bits per pixel (BMP has the potential to store more quality). The special thing about this type of image is that it allows animation. It is possible to paste a number a images “on top” of each other and play them like a little movie. As PNG this type of image uses lossless image compression.
Tagged Image File Format. A type of file which is particularly popular with graphic designers and photographers (and MAC owners…*eyeroll* :P). This type is flexible, in other words it can store lossy as well as lossless image compression. It is possible because it also stored header tags (size, definition, which type of compression was used, etc). TIFF allows LWZ compression (this is a type of lossless data compression, you really don’t need/want to know more).
I’m just mentioning this one. No idea how many of you have actually used it. This type of image contains as less processed data as possible from the “image sensor”, being the digital camera, scanner, whatever.
RAW is actually not an acronym but it is called this way simple because of the fact that it hasn’t been processed.
These files should still be edited by a bitmap graphics editor before being printed. Typically these are very large files.
This type of file is often called a digital negative. You cannot use it as a picture really, but it contains all the information needed to create an image.
Now you know this, the world is yet again a better place ;-).
‘Till next time!