Someone asked me “what is the best file format that you can use when posting images on the net?” So I always answer back this question. “What kind of web site are you creating or the purpose of your image, are you using it for logo, design or the image is part of the web site layout?” I guess there is no definite answer to this question; it’s like asking me “what is the best tire for your car?” but to help you decide, here some information about the 3 most popular file format being used on the web today.
GIF, JPG & PNG
The three most common image file formats on the web are GIF, JPG and PNG. The first two have been a standard in web browsers since the beginning. The third one, PNG, is not really a new format in and of itself, but it is a newcomer to web graphics and until recently was only supported in web browsers through the use of proprietary plug-ins.
GIF – An acronym for Graphics Interchange Format, created originally in 1987 by CompuServe to facilitate the exchange of images between different platforms. The file format is known for its compression and the fact that it can store and display multiple images. The major drawback to GIF is that images can only use up to 256 distinct colors to display their data. For photographic-quality images, this is a significant obstacle. Fortunately, the GIF file format contains a small work-around: the file itself can have a color palette that each stored image uses in addition to the local palettes created for colors custom to those specific images. This means that most images stored as GIFs have access to potentially more than the 256 colors technically allowed by GIF.
JPG – Developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, this file format is the Internet standard for presenting photo realistic images. It has the capability to compress large images down to very small file sizes while retaining the overall photographic quality of the image. JPEG files can use any number of colors up, so it’s a very convenient format for 24-bit images (True Color, which supports more than 16 million colors).
PNG – This is the lost brother in Internet file formats. Originally the Portable Network Graphics format was developed by Thomas Boutell, Tom Lane, et al as a replacement format for both GIF and JPEG – it natively supports all the characteristics of both formats, and then some, but it seems to have been forgotten in the push to make web browsers bigger, better, and more burly. Only recently have browsers begun supporting this format without the need for special proprietary plug-ins.
NOTE: Netscape Navigator v4.04 or earlier doesn’t support PNG’s without the use of special proprietary plug-ins. If you are using an earlier version of NN, then the images on this page may not display. This may also apply to older version of Internet Explorer.
For more information on this article, visit GIF, JPG and PNG file formats
Summarize what was written; different format caters to specific task or use. If you are creating a animated picture, then use GIF, if you need to use it on web page but not part of the layout or send via email, go for Jpeg or JPG. But if you are working on heavy image editing then go for PNG, you can also use PNG if you want to use an image or picture as part of your layout.
If you have something to add, feel free to add in your comment. 🙂
Last modified: September 6, 2010