While there are a variety of image file types available, choosing the correct file type may not be easy. Almost all websites use images as a part of their content and less than 10% of the websites do not focus on images. Though many website owners use images, most are unaware of the correct image file type they should be using. If you do not use the right image file type, you will end up slowing down your page load speeds.

Read on to know more about the different types of image files and when and how you should use them for the best user experience.

Top Ten Best Image File Types

  • JPEG (JPG) – Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • GIF – Graphics Interchange Format
  • PNG – Portable Network Graphics
  • WebP
  • TIFF or TIF – Tagged Image File Format
  • SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics
  • PDF – Portable Document Format
  • PSD – Photoshop Document
  • AI – Adobe Illustrator Artwork
  • RAW Image File Types

1. JPEG (JPG) – Joint Photographic Experts Group

One of the most common and best-known image formats, Joint Photographic Experts Group, commonly known as JPEG or JPG, is used by many cameras as the default output. As these images are compressed in-camera, these JPEG images are smaller in size. A large amount of JPEG pictures can be stored on a memory card because of their size.

However, these images may not be high-quality and they may lose details. These images are set up this way so that many images can be stored on a memory card. There are three different JPEG quality levels, low, medium, and high but not all cameras have these options.

Generally, many use the JPEG format when the photos are for small prints, social media, or for personal use. You can use this format when you do not wish to edit the photos later on. Similarly, as they are smaller in size, you can use this format when you intend to share pictures through email. Social media platforms like Facebook convert photos uploaded in any format to JPG by default.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • Smaller in size
  • All operating systems and browsers support this format
  • Image compression would result in low image quality

Where can these images be used?

  • Digital cameras and other image capture devices use this format

2. GIF — Graphics Interchange Format

The animated banners and moving pictures you see on websites are GIFs. Similar to JPG image files, GIFs can also be used to make still images, but its special feature is that it can help you create animated images. GIFs are more like short videos that do not require you to press the play button to animate. They are a series of images that loop continuously so that they appear like a video.

This format may not be suitable for complex pictures as this format consists of only 256 colors in the RGB color space. These image files are smaller in size which will result in faster loading times. This format is ideal for web graphics. Almost all major browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc. and all major operating systems support this format.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • Smaller file size
  • They load pretty fast
  • This format supports animation
  • Quality of these images may be lower
  • Color choice will be limited

Where can these images be used?

  • This image format can be used to make animations

3. PNG – Portable Network Graphics

PNG is an improved version of the GIF file format and this format is widely used on the internet. Unlike JPG images that lack detail, PNG retains all the detail as a lossless format is used to compress these images. Though they retain their quality, they load quickly as the PNG image files are not in big sizes.

These images allow for transparency, making this format an ideal choice for logos and overlays. This image file format supports lossless compression. As a result of this kind of compression, PNG images will retain contrast between colors and detail.

Text readability is generally better in PNG images when compared to JPEG. All these features make this image format an ideal choice for screenshots, banners, infographics. Moreover, all popular browsers like Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari and all major operating systems support the PNG image format.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • Supports transparency
  • Retains image quality and detail after compression
  • Good quality images with clear text
  • High-resolution images in large sizes could result in slow loading speeds

Where can these images be used?

  • This image format is an ideal choice for screenshots, coupons, icons, logos, and blog graphics
  • It is a great choice for images that include text

4. WebP

A pretty new image format that provides lossy and lossless compression, WebP was developed by Google. You can save bandwidth and server disk space by switching to WebP from PNG and JPEG. That is because it offers almost the same quality as those formats but helps save space by reducing the image size by around 34%. This image format supports animations and is likely to support other features too.

Browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Opera support this image format. While Photoshop supports the WebP format, most other image editors do not support this format.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • Smaller in size but good image quality
  • Not all browsers and image editors support this format

Where can these images be used?

  • You can use this format instead of PNG and JPEG to save space and bandwidth

5. TIFF – Tagged Image File Format

TIFF, Tagged Image File Format, more popular among graphic artists, is widely used in the printing and publishing industry. This format is used to store and edit images that will later be printed so this format does not offer compression. That is because compressing the image might result in reducing the image quality. So, this format focuses on preserving the quality of the image. This image type is preferred by photographers as this uncompressed image format offers a lot of options in post-processing.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • These images are of high quality
  • They are great for printing
  • Does not offer compression as a result of which the image size will be large
  • Most browsers do not support this format without extensions

Where can these images be used?

  • You can use this format when you prepare images for printing purposes
  • Scanners use this format to retain the quality of scanned pictures

6. SVG – Scalable Vector Graphics

SVG, Scalable Vector Graphics renders two-dimensional graphic image files, and these images are pure XML. These image files are used to share graphic content on the web as these XML based images can be compressed, scripted, searched, and indexed. These images can also be animated. SVG images can be printed in any resolution and they can also be zoomed. These images will not lose quality and detail even when zoomed or resized.

Most internet browsers, including Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, and IE support this image format. One of the best features about these images is that these SVG images can be created and edited using any text editor.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • Can be scaled without losing image quality
  • Smaller in size
  • It may not be a good option for complex drawings
  • Most browsers support this format

Where can these images be used?

  • The SVG format is used to create icons, logos, illustrations, and other images you wish to scale.

7. PDF – Portable Document Format

Developed by Adobe, PDF, Portable Document Format can be viewed on any device, browser, or operating system without any specific software. This format is commonly used in print files. This format is used to store, read, and save text-based documents and is a great option for magazine covers and storing illustrations.

All major browsers like Firefox and Chrome support this format but you will have to open it as a separate file. PDF files can be created using Adobe Acrobat. Similarly, most document editors like Google Docs support the PDF format.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • Do not require specific software to access this image file type
  • An excellent option for print files
  • Compatible with all major browsers
  • You will need a paid subscription to edit these files
  • Text on these files is recognized as images
  • Should be loaded as a separate file

Where can these images be used?

  • You can use the PDF format to create infographics or other reports and documents like eBooks, application forms, and manuals.

8. PSD – Photoshop Document

Photoshop Document, PSD, is used to save Adobe Photoshop works in progress. PSD is an editing friendly image file type, and it comes with different imaging options. This makes this format an ideal option for publishers and graphic designers to finalize templates, graphics, and more. One of the most common applications used to handle PSD files is CorelDRAW. Browsers and other image editors do not support this format.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • This format offers lossless image detail and quality
  • Any edit you make on this file can be reversed and customized
  • Image file sizes are larger

Where can these images be used?

  • You can use this format when you intend to share your work with your fellow photographers and designers
  • This format can be used when you wish to store Photoshop projects before you complete them and also after completion

9. AI – Adobe Illustrator Artwork

Developed by Adobe, Adobe Illustrator Artwork (AI) is used to save the image and the project, as well. This vector graphics editing program helps users create technical illustrations, logos, and artwork. It can also be used to create graphics for websites and print. Images created using AI will not lose image quality even if zoomed or enlarged as they are saved in vector format. However, this format is not supported by browsers and other image editors.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • AI images are scalable
  • Any change you make to the image with respect to shapes, filters, and strokes can be reversed and customized
  • Image sizes are large

Where can these images be used?

  • These images are used to save Adobe Illustrator projects in progress
  • They are used to create logos, illustrations, graphics, and more

10. Raw Image File Types

The RAW Image format is the option that professional photographers prefer as it is the best option to get the highest quality photos from your camera. This option is available on DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and other advanced cameras. This RAW image format will retain all the details of the originally captured photo. All other adjustments like sharpness, contrast, brightness, etc can be made after the photo is captured.

RAW images have to be converted before they can be used. These images are not for sharing and browsers and image viewers do not support this format. Canon RAW 2 (CR2), Canon RAW (CRW), NEF (Nikon Electric Format), and Pentax Electronic Format (PEF) are a few examples of RAW image file types.

Recap (Pros and Cons)

  • The quality of the pictures will be higher
  • Image file sizes are larger
  • These images cannot be printed

Where can these images be used?

  • You can use this format when you wish to save photographs in the highest quality possible for editing

Other Popular Image File Types

  • XCF – eXperimental Computing Facility
  • INDD – Adobe InDesign Document
  • BMP – Bitmap
  • EPS – Encapsulated Postscript
  • HEIF – High-Efficiency Image File Format
  • JPEG XR – JPEG extended range
  • SWF – ShockWave Flash
  • INDD – Adobe InDesign Document
  • Truevision TGA

Wrapping Up

With a multitude of image formats available, it can get confusing when working with images. So, it is important to understand the different types of image formats available. By using the right image file type, you can get the best results and it will also help you improve page load speeds and overall website performance. We hope this article helped you understand which image format you need to use for your purposes.

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