What are the best file formats to save digital images?

Feb 17 2021, 8:13 am
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Digital photography requires you to save digital images to a storage device, such as your hard disk drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive, and so on.

Digital images can be saved in a variety of different file formats. Each format is unique in terms of file size and image quality. You must decide whether you want to sacrifice image quality for small file size or to have better image quality for large file size. 

It’s important to become familiar with digital image file formats because it may come in handy if you ever need to recover digital images at some point in the future. The recovery software will likely ask you which image formats you wish to find.

Below are the top four file formats for saving digital images.

JPEG

JPEG is known by the file extensions .jpg and .jpeg. The acronym “JPEG” stands for the term “Joint Photographic Experts Groups.” JPEG is basically a compressed file format, which means you get a smaller file size with less than perfect quality. Most people use JPEG format for their digital image files if they’re for non-commercial purposes.

For instance, if you want to upload images to your website or share images on social media, then JPEG is the best format for passing around digital image files and sharing them with people.  

GIF

GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format.” If you want to save an animated digital image, then you must save it as a GIF file. None of the other image file formats will show the animation if you save it under those formats.

Although the picture itself only contains 256 colours, the animation aspect of the imagery makes up for the low resolution. You can also save images with transparent backgrounds in GIF format.

Bitmap

Bitmap is better recognized as .bmp files. Microsoft Windows is famous for using Bitmap Image Files with their Paint program. If you save an image file in Microsoft Paint, then it will be a .bmp file. But you can also save images as Bitmaps with other software programs, such as Photoshop and your favourite digital camera software. 

The benefit of Bitmap Image Files is their high-resolution image quality. There is no compression that takes place when you save an image as a .bmp file. That means the picture quality will stay exactly the same when you save it. The only downside is the file size will be much larger than your average image file. But if you want to display a stunning image or work of art, then Bitmap is a great format to use.  

PNG

Portable Network Graphics uses the PNG file format. It was created as an alternative to the GIF format, although you cannot save an animated image in PNG. What you can do with a PNG is save images that have transparency in them.

The difference here is that PNG files can have 16 million colours, whereas GIF images only have 256 colours. So, if you have higher resolution pictures with transparent backgrounds, then you will want to use the PNG file format.

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