JPG, PNG, RAW, PSD—how do you know which file format to choose when saving your images? Selecting the wrong format can alter the way your image looks and affect how well it prints. As such, it’s essential to choose the right image file formats.
We’re covering the most popular types today so you can save your files with confidence. Whether you do product photography or you’re a graphic designer, here are the best file formats to use and when to use them.
JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is one of the most common file types you’ll see online. The JPEG file format is the best choice for lossy compression of your still images.
The quality of an image saved as a JPEG will decrease as the file size decreases.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics) files are great for web pages and other interactive documents. This file format provides sharper images. PNG files are lossless, so you can edit them without losing quality.
A transparent PNG is the perfect way to save a logo, headshot, or other graphic you’re planning to put on your website.
The PNG file format is not ideal for print, however.
GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) are quite popular on the internet in their animated form. You may see them as memes, reaction images, banner ads, and so on.
GIFs consist of up to 256 colors. This limited number of colors means a much smaller file size. It’s best for images that need to load quickly rather than images that require a lot of quality.
PDF (Portable Document Format) files were invented by Adobe. Saving images in PDF format allows people to view them without any additional software.
This is the best file format if you need to share graphics. It’s also the image format of choice for magazine covers or images that will be printed.
A BMP or Bitmap file maps pixels with little or no compression. It’s mostly outdated, and BMP files can become impractical to handle due to their large file size.
A TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) file is a raster image used when the file will later be printed. It’s usually used as a lossless image format. TIFF files are usually larger in size.
If you’ve ever used a digital camera, you’re likely aware of RAW images. This is the format that cameras use to store full-quality pictures.
RAW files have 16,384 shades per color. However, this file type isn’t meant for the web. The file sizes are simply too large, ranging up to 20 to 40 megabytes or more.
PSD (Photoshop Document) pictures are any files that are created in Adobe Photoshop. Most people have heard of Photoshop, even if they’ve never used it. It’s easily one of the most popular image editing programs out there.
This file type uses layers, making editing the image easier when saved in this format. However, note that Photoshop works with raster images, not vector images.
The Best Image File Formats to Use
These are some of the best and most common image file formats out there today. However, there are many more image types. You might find it helpful to study each type to determine which format works best for your application.
Check out some of our other technology-related articles on our website to learn more tips like these.