Understanding image formats with a simple technique

The five of the commonest formats used for classifying images include JPG, TIFF, PNG, BMP, and GIF. In the following discussion, we shall try to provide an understanding on these formats in simple words. Moreover, we shall try to provide users on how to differentiate between the formats and their uses.


Bitmap (BMP)

This is the most basic type of an image format used in the Windows OS. The image loads quickly; however, its biggest drawback is the large size as it is not compressible. Hence, it is not widely used online. Be sure never to send BMP images as email attachments to friends or other individuals.



This format was widely used for sending images online; however, it is being replaced by the PNG format. The primary reason is because this format supports only 256 colors. However, its advantage is that it can support animation, which is why it is used only for creating these images.



This is the commonest format used on the Internet. The compression mechanism is very useful in reducing the size of the file (a 5MB bitmap file is lowered to 150KB with this format and only some quality is lost). This format is most suitable for compressing images without defined lines or edges. Therefore, before emailing pictures it is advisable to convert them to JPEG.

Graphical images with defined lines or edges must be converted to PNG to maintain its quality.



This format is becoming popular because all the different web browsers support the format. Unlike the compression mechanism of JPEG, there is no loss in the image quality when compressed to this format. Nevertheless, the PNG file size is larger than PNG as this format is suitable for pictures with solid colors. The format is most suitable when the size does not matter and you need superior quality.

One additional feature of this format is that it supports transparent colors, which implies that in case a page contains black in the background, the translucent section of the picture is shown in black. Although, GIF format also supports translucent colors, PNG is more commonly used for this purpose.



The benefits and disadvantages of TIFF are very different. This is more flexible than any of the other picture processing programs compatible across all operating systems, which includes Windows, Unix, and Mac. Additionally, the format does not compromise the quality during the conversion. However, TIFF is not usable within the browsers and has a large file size in comparison to BMP.




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