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A Question From Patricia
Can someone please explain the difference between the different formats for images--i.e. basically jpeg and bitmap? Is one better than the other. A program I use to put images into recipes, will only use bitmap, but when I save the images, jpeg comes up first, and I have to be sure to change it to bitmap format.

Answer
OK we will give it a try for you, Patricia!

GIF: (Graphics Interchange Format) This format has a maximum number of 256 colors (but it can "dither" which means mix two colors together to give the impression of another color). GIF is a "lossless" format, meaning it doesn't get blurry or lose sharpness. It's a great format for drawings, clip-art, icons, and such, but it's a very poor format (because of the limitation of colors) for photographs of digital photography. GIF is the most popular image type on the Web. More GIFs are used on Web sites than any other image formats. GIFs can be made transparent and can be animated as well.

JPEG/JPG: (Joint Photographic Expert Group) The JPEG format uses compression that reduces image file size by reducing the amount of detail contained in the image. Images with fewer details compress extremely well, while pictures with a lot of detail do not compress as well and will suffer some degradation. The amount of compression allowed (and hence the amount of details lost) can be controlled in most image editing application. Because JPEG/JPG can display millions of colors and because it has the smallest file size of all, it is the best choice for detailed images and photographs which you want to send via email or use on the Web. JPG/JPEG is the second most popular image format in use on the Web today.

BMP: The Windows Bitmap file format is the standard file format used by Microsoft Windows. Bitmap files can contain either 2 (black and white), 16, 256 or 16.7 million colors. Most Windows Bitmap files are not compressed. It is possible to save 16 and 256 color images in a compressed format. BMP files are very large and the image quality is not noticeably different from a JPG/JPEG file that is not compressed too much. Since both BMP and JPG/JPEG can display millions of colors, for most uses you'd be better off with JPG/JPEG since the file size (Kilobytes) is much smaller. You rarely see BMP format in use on the Web simply because the file size is large and would take too long to download in a browser.

PNG: ( Portable Network Graphics) PNG was invented to replace the GIF format. But so far it has not done so. It is in use on the Web and is increasing in popularity. For image editing, either professional or otherwise, PNG provides a useful format for the storage of intermediate stages of editing. Since PNG's compression is fully lossless--and since it supports up to 48-bit true color or 16-bit grayscale--saving, restoring and re-saving an image will not degrade its quality, unlike standard JPEG (even at its highest quality settings). For transmission of finished true color images--especially photographic ones--JPEG/JPG is almost always a better choice. Although JPEG's compression can introduce some degradation in quality, this can be minimized, and the savings in file size even at high quality levels is much better than is generally possible with a lossless format like PNG or GIF.

There are other formats such as TIF,TGA, ICO, and many others. The four listed above are by far the most common ones. We hope this helps you decide which format you use in the future.



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