PNG, JPEG, GIF – What’s the Difference ?

PNG, JPEG, GIF - What's the Difference ?

PNG, JPEG, GIF - What's the Difference ?
I am sure you have seen or at least heard of these three formats of an image. But do you know the difference between the three formats? I have written this post to explain and tell you about the difference and importance of all the three formats.

The most important thing I think is the sheer difference of size and space these three formats consume. Especially if you are into blogging and you need to upload images or you just do not have enough space on your hard drive.

Whenever we download image files, we hardly checkout the extension of the files. We simply save them.

It is not just about the file size or space they consume but also the difference in terms of its functionality and usage.

Difference in png,jpeg,gif

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)/JPG

JPEG or JPG: JPG and JPEG file formats have the same meaning and are interchangeable. Older DOS-based computers handled a maximum 3-character file extension which is why true acronym for Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) file extension was used as JPG. Newer Operating systems such as Windows XP and 7 allow for longer file extensions so the JPG file extension was upgraded to the JPEG file extension. Another example would be .htm becoming .html in new operating systems.

JPEG was developed to be a standard for professional photographers. Like ZIP compression, JPG also compresses image data by reducing sections of images to block of pixels, although it can has side effects of being permanent.

JPEG has become the standard image of the internet as well because it can compress so much. Back in the days when the world survived on dial up internet connections, JPEG was the only way to send image information.

JPG is lossy and that’s why storing arts in JPEG file type is not ideal because even the highest quality settings compresses JPEGs and it will change the look of your image. JPEG cannot be used for typography, geometric lines, and crisp lines as it gets blurred out by anti-aliasing.

Checkout the images below and you will see what I am talking about.

Close up of a high quality JPG.
Close up of a high quality JPG.
Close up of a very lossy JPG.
Close up of a very lossy JPG.

To combat this serious problem image degradation, Join Photographic Experts Group developed lossless JPG technology. However, because of the lack of interest this new JPEG-LS didn’t become the standard.

Although it is possible to open and save the lossless JPG2000 by using plugins. There are applications as well that will allow you to open JPG2000 images. An example of that would be Apple’s preview application.

JPEG supports 24-bit RGB, CMYK and 8-bit grayscale as well.

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNG was developed as an alternative of GIF. It is an excellent file type for internet graphics, it supports transparency in browsers as well, a quality which GIF does not possess. It gives the power to use one transparent image on different backgrounds.

PNG supports 8-bit and 24-bit color. PNG is loss less files, images are compressed without affecting the quality of the image. PNG is not supported by all browsers but in this age top most used browsers supports this file type.

PNG is also great for screenshot applications as it generates lossless 24-bit images.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

Distorted GIF image

GIF is an older file type. It is generally associated with internet. It also employs lossless LZW compression. GIF is an 8-bit color file. They are limited to 256 colors palette. Saving gray-scale images as GIF is ideal because gray-scale images are 8-bit palette.

It not only supports transparency but also supports animation limiting every frame to 256 colors.

dancing baby gif

GIF is not lossy like JPEG/JPG but conversion to 8-bit color distorts several images. GIF is not ideal for photography. Small sizes and very limited color tables GIF can be smaller than JPG files.

GIF is ideal for using to keep tight lines on typography and geometric shapes.

The trend of GIF file types has gone up with animated memes. You can find thousands of GIF dedicated Tumblr blogs.

Which one should you use ?

Difference in size of png gif jpg jpeg

24-bit JPG Compressed, 8-bit GIF, 8-bit PNG, Full Quality 24-bit JPG, and 24-bit PNG

As you can see that PNG is the largest image of all. Neither are optimal choice for photography. JPG is smaller and unnoticeable loss of quality.

PNG is for transparent usage. Option is good for lossless, larger files, smaller files.

GIF is used for animated images.

JPG/JPEG is the most common used format and is the king for photographs. Although remember that your photo/file can get worse and degrade with every save.

What is CMS (Content Management System)?I hope this article has been beneficial for those interested in studying or was just curious about the 3 different file types. Please share your valuable views in comments. Share this article and help others as well.


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