Is There a One-Size-Fits-All Image Format?
Is JPEG (JPG) the best image format for all situations? It’s certainly the most commonly used and it has a lot of strengths but it also has weaknesses.
Quality vs Size
There is always a compromise that needs to be made and in the case of graphic image formats is Quality vs Size.
If you want to preserve the image unaltered, with the best possible quality, JPG is not the format to use. JPG is a lossy image format that sacrifices image data in order to achieve better compression. Moreover with each consecutive save the JPEG format will lose more image data.
So if quality is more important to you than size, opt to use a lossless format like TIFF (TIF) or PNG.
PNG and TIF do not sacrifice image data for a better compression so they do not lose quality with each consecutive save.
For websites we have three important formats that are each used for representing different types of images:
- JPG — Used for photos or other images with a wide color gamut that also need a small size footprint;
- PNG — Used for images with a wide color gamut like for a website graphical template, where size is not the primary concern;
- GIF — Used for graphic elements that have a very small color gamut (255 colors + alpha) with the advantage of a very small file size. Usually used for a site’s graphical template.
There are many other image formats with different uses, like:
- RAW Formats — There is a custom image format for almost each type of DSLR digital camera, because each manufacturer has created its own custom formats;
- PSD, EPS — Formats used by Photoshop® to store project and image data;
- PDF — The classic PDF document cannot only store text but images as well, even with JPG compression. For example, a single PDF with multiple photos is easy to share;
- BMP — The classic Windows® Bitmap format, an uncompressed image format used by Microsoft®
Converting images from one format to another can be done with Adobe Photoshop® or more lightweight and specialized software like BatchPhoto from Bits&Coffee.
BatchPhoto is a specially designed image converter software for Windows® and Mac OS X that can convert multiple images in one session as well as apply custom edits, touch-ups, and effects, all at the same time.
Learn more about BatchPhoto here.