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Chapter 11. preparing images & multimedi... > choosing an image file format

choosing an image file format

All digital artists can rattle off a long list of image file formats—PICT, TIFF, JPEG, GIF. There’s a time and place for each of them. But only two—GIF and JPEG—can be reliably displayed on the web (PNG is still up-and-coming). So any web image must be converted into one of these file types.

PronunciationEither “Jiff” or with a hard G, like “give.”Jay-peg.Ping!
What it stands forGraphic Interchange Format.Joint Photographic Expert Group.Portable Network Graphic.
What it’s good forIllustrations and graphics. Also animation.Photographs. Also graphics with colors that blend or fade.Everything GIFs do: Graphics, illustrations, animation.
What it’s not good forPhoto-realistic images with colors that blend: They’ll appear broken and jagged.Pictures—either graphics or photos—with large areas of a single color.Photographs.
Colors1-bit to 8-bit color (256 colors).24-bit only (millions of colors).8-bit, 24-bit, or 32-bit color.
AnimationYes.No.Yes, with MNG.
TransparencyYes. A single color can be transparent.No.Yes. Plus 256 levels of partial transparency.
File size speedImages can be reduced to truly tiny file sizes, but compression isn’t as good as it could be.File size tends to be larger than GIFs, but excellent compression almost makes up for it.Compression is excellent (better than GIF).
  • Tiny images.

  • Animation.

  • Transparency.

  • Almost universally supported.

  • Excellent color retention.

  • Excellent compression allows large images to load quickly.

  • Simple compression process.

  • Excellent compression with no loss of quality.

  • Suitable for a wide range of images.

  • Excellent cross-platform viewing.

  • Complicated optimization process.

  • Certain visual effects (such as glowing light, feathered edges, and vertical stripes—of all things—compress poorly.

  • Not much control over compression process.

  • Larger file size.

  • No transparency.

  • No animation.

Not widely supported.



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