There are several types of image file extensions, each serving a slightly different niche. Learn all the basics you should need here with help from our experts!
The world of image file extensions is a confusing one. Which file format would suit your project the best? Which format has the best quality with the smallest file size?
There are so many digital image files to choose from knowing which format is key to creating a great project. Should you use GIF, JPG, PNG, or SVG? Or do you need something you can edit without losing quality like PSD, AI, or PDF?
Keep reading to learn the basics of digital image formats and bring your projects to the next level.
Raster Image File Extensions
The rasterized images are the most common image formats. Rasterized images use dots and pixels to create images. They tend to be less sharp as you zoom in or resize the image.
For a long time, the most common format used was the JPG format. It uses lossy compression, which lets you have a smaller file size. In exchange for the smaller size, the image tends to look pixelized.
The GIF was the undisputed king of file formats for a quite a while, taking over for JPG files. It allows for transparency in images, though it can only contain up to 256 colors. It is still used for logos and since it can create animated images, it’s a very popular format for creating memes.
The PNG has overtaken GIF images in popularity. They also allow for transparent image files but are lossless. PNGs are great for high-quality images, and won’t degrade after editing like JPGs.
TIFF image files are used in publishing. They are very large files and are lossless. Print magazines use TIFF files in their printing process.
RAW files are raw image data from cameras. They contain an immense amount of color and value data, allowing photographers to edit the images later. The RAW format expands on the TIFF format with camera-specific variations. Despite the many variations, RAW is considered one single format. In most cases, you will need to convert a RAW image file to another file format for distribution.
PSD is a little different in that it is a program-specific format. PSD is the default image format for Adobe Photoshop. It’s designed to take advantage of Photoshop features.
A PSD file may contain layers, edit history, and clipping paths. These files are work in progress files. They are best used when you need a format that will allow you to edit all the individual aspects of the file.
That said, the biggest drawback to PSD image files is that you have to use Photoshop or a Photoshop-compatible image editor.
Vector Image File Extensions
Vector image files are increasing in popularity as technology improves. A vector image file uses proportional formulas rather than pixels to form an image. This works well for images that need size variants.
An SVG image format is the most common vector file format you will find. Initially, it was not adopted but has since come into its own thanks to the rise of HTML5. Converting files is sometimes necessary with SVG files, as it is not supported in all programs.
EPS and AI
AI files are another Adobe-based file format. They are editable in Adobe Illustrator. No other program can open them, so when you want to export an AI file to non-Adobe programs, you can convert it to an EPS file that will be editable in other programs.
You may recognize the PDF file extension as a common file format you receive documents in. While made to store more than images, developers use PDF as an alternative to SVG or EPS for compatibility reasons. PDF files can be viewed in most internet browsers, as well as Adobe’s own free Acrobat Reader software.
PDF is also handy, as you can design a whole page for a browser, then convert the HTML to PDF. You can learn how to create a PDF document from HTML with C# pdf from HTML, a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.C
Choices Are Plentiful
Whatever you choose for your image file format, always be mindful of what you want to do with it and what tools you have at your disposal. If you have the Adobe Suite of software, it might be best to stick with all Adobe formats. Otherwise, there are plenty of other programs out there for working on images.
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