Different types of cameras and images for projects

Different Types of Image File Formats & When to Use Each File


Tagged Image File format

TIFF images create extremely large file sizes. Tiff images are uncompressed and it contains a lot if detailed image data (reason why the file is so big).

When to Use TIFF?

  • High-quality print graphics. Along with RAW, TIFF files are among the highest quality graphic formats available. If you’re printing photos—especially at enormous sizes—use this format.
  • To Scan your documents. Using TIFF to scan your documents, photos and artwork will ensure that you have the best original file to work off of.

Don’t use TIFF when…

  • Web Graphics. While many web browsers support it, TIFF files are optimized for print. Go with JPEG or PNG when you need to display high-quality images online.


Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPEG files store a lot of information in a small-size file. This is one of the most widely used formats online, typically for photos, email graphics and large web images like banner ads.

When to Use JPEG?

  • Online photos and/or artwork. JPEGs offer you the most flexibility with raster editing and compression making them ideal for web images that need to be downloaded quickly.
  • Print photos and/or artwork. At high resolution files with low compression, JPEGs are perfect for editing and then printing.
  • Quick preview image to a client. JPEG images can be reduced to very small sizes making them great for emailing.

Don’t use JPEG when…

  • Transparency. JPEGs do not have a transparency channel and must have a solid color background. GIF and PNG are your best options for transparency.
  • Need a layered, editable image. JPEGs are a flat image format meaning that all edits are saved into one image layer and cannot be undone. Consider a PSD (Photoshop) file for a fully editable image.

3- GIF

Graphic Interchange Format

GIF images are compressed but different from JPEG, the compression is lossless (no detail is lost in the compression. GIF is widely used web image format, typically for animated graphics like banner ads, email images and social media memes, but the file can’t be made as small as a JPEG).

When to Use GIF?

  • Web animation. GIF images hold all of the animation frames and timing information in one single file. Image editors like Photoshop make it easy to create a short animation and export it as a GIF.
  • Transparency. GIF images have an “alpha channel” that can be transparent, so you can place your image on any colored background.
  • Small file. The compression techniques in the GIF format allow image files to shrink tremendously. For very simple icons and web graphics, GIF is the best image file format.

4- PNG

Graphic Interchange Format.

PNG is mostly used for web images, NEVER for print. It has built-in transparency, and can also display higher color depths, which translates into millions of colors (a perfect match for web).

When to Use PNG?

  • Transparent web graphics. PNG images have a variable “alpha channel” that can have any degree of transparency (in contrast with GIFs that only have on/off transparency). Plus, with greater color depths, you’ll have a more vibrant image than you would with a GIF.
  • Limited colors. Though any image will work, PNG files are best with a small color palette.
  • Small file. PNG files can shrink to incredibly tiny sizes—especially images that are simple colors, shapes or text. This makes it the ideal image file type for web graphics.

Don’t use a PNG when…

  • If working with photos or artwork. Thanks to PNGs’ high color depth, the format can easily handle high resolution photos. However, because it is a lossless web format, file sizes tend to get very large. If you’re working with photos on the web, go with JPEG.
  • Print project. PNG graphics are optimized for the screen. You can definitely print a PNG, but you’d be better off with a JPEG (lossy) or TIFF file.

Think is time to get professional help? BN Graphic Designs would be delighted to meet with you to review your design needs. Visit our portfolio to see samples of projects we have completed or reach out to us to get started.

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