There are many file formats that we can use to save our favorite images. Although they all seem to look exactly the same, the truth is that there are big differences between them that we cannot ignore. In this post we make a comparison JPG vs PNG vs GIF , the 3 most popular formats today.
Lossy vs lossless image formats
Before delving into the differences between each of these three image file formats, we need to understand that there are two large groups of image file formats.
Comparison between a lossless image (left) and a lossy one (right).
First, we have the image file formats loss . These formats greatly reduce the size of an image file, permanently removing much of the information that is stored in that file.
This causes a large reduction in file size, but it also inevitably causes a loss of image quality.
Secondly, we have the image file formats without loss . These image formats will also see a great reduction in file size, although the big difference is that in this case the information is not eliminated, but rather it is compressed iron organized in such a way that it ends up taking up less space.
JPEG - Lossy Image Format
JPEG is by far the most popular and widely used image format on the entire Internet . It is a type of file that has been around for many years, and is characterized by offering a great understanding of images, so the resulting file size is very small.
This format was born at a time when the speed of Internet connections was very low, so it was essential to compress the images a lot, so that they would not take forever to be sent.
In addition, JPEG supports various levels of data compression , so we can also obtain images with an excellent balance between quality and size. This together with the high compatibility with all types of device, which makes it continue to be the most used format even in the middle of the year 2020
JPEG is ideal for:
- Upload photos to the web
- Save and send small images
- General use
- Print images.
PNG - Lossless Image Format
We will now talk about the PNG image format, another type of file that is very popular today.
The PNG image file format was created to meet the needs of those who needed to obtain the highest quality images , which the JPEG format cannot provide. In addition, the great advance in the speed of Internet connections made it possible to send images with an increasing file size, without taking too long.
PNG file size is generally larger than JPEG, but it preserves better quality and is more flexible to work with.
PNG is ideal for:
- Web graphics
- High quality photos
GIF - Lossless Image Format
GIF is a lossless image file format that was developed before the PNG standard, although it ended up succumbing to it for offering a lower level of image quality.
However, the GIF format has a very peculiar characteristic that means that it is still widely used in the year 2020. This format allows you to create small video clips from several image files, something that cannot be done with other image formats as PNG or JPEG.
The main problem that GIF files face is that they only support 256 colors , so it is not a suitable file format to work with high-quality photos with a wide color gamut. It is a format that also allows transparencies, although in a much more limited way than PNG.
GIF files are ideal for:
- Create memes
- Small, reduced-size video clips
Other interesting image file formats for the future
Let's now look at other newer image formats that are gaining popularity
TIFF - Image file for editors
TIFF is an image file format that is not very popular, in fact it is very likely that you did not even know it exists. This is because it is a format that offers enormous image quality , although in return the file size is much larger than with the other alternatives that we have seen so far.
For this reason, TIFF is an ideal file type for image professionals who need to work with high-quality files, as well as being able to make a large number of modifications to them without affecting the final quality of the product. In summary, it is a format that is only indicated for those situations in which the highest possible quality is sought and size is not a problem.
SVG - Vector Images
SVG is a quite peculiar image format that has the differentiating characteristic that images are not saved as pixels, but as a type of mathematical equations known as vectors .
The main characteristic of vector images is that they can be enlarged and reduced in size very easily without affecting the quality of the image. For this reason SVG is an ideal file format to work with logos, and with images that we believe appear in different places, but with a different size each time.
HEIF - High Efficiency Image Format
HEIF is the natural successor to JPEG . This format uses much more advanced algorithms that allow a greater reduction in file size, while maintaining a higher image quality. It is the default image format in iOS 11 and later.
WebP - Maximum efficiency for the web
WebP is an image format developed by Google that brings together many of the best features of the formats that we have been seeing so far. WebP achieves better compression than JPEG, better animations than GIF, and transparency equivalent to PNG .
The main drawback of this format is that it is quite new and therefore very low health compatibility. YouTube, Firefox, Chrome, and Facebook already support WebP.