How to Choose the Right Image File Format

Sep 2, 2014 | Multimedia

Today we will help you choose the right image file format for your website to help you get the most out of your images.

Image File Formats

In our previous blog on optimizing images for the web, we discussed how to optimize image files for your website, specifically understanding the importance of file size. Today we will help you choose the right image file format for your website to help you get the most out of your images.

The four image file formats that we will be going over are JPEG, GIF, PNG -8, and PNG-24. Each of these file formats have their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on what your end goals are. We will talk about size, transparency, color, and a few other key points when it comes to picking your file format.

JPEG

The JPEG is the most basic version of a photo and probably one you use quite often. The JPEG is great for photos of people and images with a lot of different colors. If you are trying to maintain a lot of detail in a photo, the JPEG is your best bet.

However, if you are looking for a transparent image, the JPEG is not the right file format for you. JPEGs do not support transparency. In addition, when dealing with straight lines, such as letters, you will notice “noise” around the lines, meaning JPEGs lose sharpness around straight lines.

Key Features:

  • Supports a lot of colors
  • Non-transparent
  • Non-animated
  • Not ideal for straight lines

GIF

The GIF is a very simple, older style file format, containing 256 colors. While the GIF allows for a little more sharpness around straight lines than the JPEG, it is much more limited by color. With only 256 colors, the GIF has to pick and choose which colors will remain in a photo with a lot of color. Additionally, the GIF is the only one of the 4 file formats listed here that supports animation.

Key Features:

  • Limited colors
  • Limited transparency
  • Supports animation
  • Supports straight lines

PNG-8

The PNG-8 is great for sharp, transparent images. It allows for color to the level that the JPEG does and keeps those straight lines like the GIF does. However, the PNG is where you will start to see much heavier file sizes.

Key Features:

  • Supports a lot of colors
  • Supports transparency
  • Non-animated
  • Supports straight lines
  • Larger file size

PNG-24

The PNG-24 is a much more powerful and much heavier version of the PNG-8. It will allow for full transparency, great color, and an overall high quality photo. The only major downside is the physical size of the image.

Key Features:

  • Supports a lot of colors
  • Supports transparency
  • Non-animated
  • Supports straight lines
  • Very large file size

If you need assistance with choosing or optimizing images for your website, contact Informatics. Also, stay tuned for the next step in optimizing images for the web: The Importance of Reducing Your Image Resolution.