PNG, JPG, GIF, or SVG: What Is the Best Image Format?

Deciding on the best image format is tricky. Whether it’s PNG, JPG, GIF, or SVG, understanding the features of each type will allow you to make the right choice. This article will clarify the pros and cons of each format.

Keep in mind, however, that even if you choose the right format, you will still need to perform image transformation in some cases. This is especially true for logos, icons, and thumbnails.

For logos and scans

PNG is a relative newcomer when it comes to image formats. It was created in order to bypass certain patent issues pertaining to GIF format. PNG was designed for image transfers on the Internet and with a lot of Photoshop-compatible options. That’s why it has already taken its leading place among the most popular formats used for high-quality flat images, architectural plans, photos, and scans of text, icons, and logos. PNG supports the entire 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA palette of colors, image interlacing, as well as the option to make a picture transparent and greyscale.

Portable Graphics Format supports lossless compression that’s considerably faster and easier to use in comparison to GIFs. In addition to that, PNG files can be 10-30% more compressed than GIFs.

Since every gift does come with a price, excellent quality high-resolution PNG images may take quite a bit of your storage space in the file library. Be that as it may, that’s the cost for the exceptional quality of images on your website, and it will be worth it.

For digital photos

There’s no difference between JPG and JPEG. An outdated version of Windows had a three-letter maximum limit for file names, hence the JPG.

JPG (or JPEG) is excellent for digital photos, as well as realistic paintings, and it doesn’t require as much storage space as PNG. Fortunately, for certain files, there’s an option to choose the compression degree when using an editor. Usually, the JPG image size can be reduced by 50-75% when you save it. However, keep in mind that each time you edit the file, the image loses its quality. While compressing a file, every pixel compares to pixels that surround it in a ratio ranging from 2:1 to 100:1. JPG often uses three bytes per pixel.

In addition to that, JPG has a huge color palette that consists of more than 16 million colors, which makes its contrast resolution and color scheme second-to-none.

To sum it up, JPG is perfect in case you need storage space in the file library, but in return, you will sacrifice image quality during compression.

For animations

GIF is perfect for web graphics, small images, animated pictures, icons, and logos. It’s a good choice for images consisting of a few colors, but not for photographs. It includes only 256 colors from the 24-bit RGB.

In addition to that, GIFs are of a smaller size than JPGs where colors are clearer and more precise. Also, GIFs use lossless compression to deliver high-quality images, making it a perfect format for creating animations when using image files.

Since GIF is commonly used to create animations, there’s one significant drawback that should be mentioned. When an animation is saved as a GIF file, there’s no chance to edit the file, unfortunately. So, in case of any mistake, the only option is to start creating animation from scratch once again.

For vector images

In this article, SVG is the only representative of a vector graphics format. In case you are looking to create 2D vector images and use them on your site, then you may want to take a closer look at this option. Usually, SVG is used for icons or logos, but it also applies to smaller elements in an XML (Extensible Markup Language) text format.

Since it’s written in code, the image file size doesn’t require too much storage space. The size of each file may vary depending on the editor you use. For instance, Gnu Nano suggests the lowest file size at 2.72KB.

The SVG format is supported by any image editors (e.g. Photoshop, Affinity), but in some cases, you might still be required to have specific coding knowledge for more complex image optimization tasks. SVG is flexible when it comes to graphic settings. It allows you to scale images without losing quality. Another advantage is that SVG images are displayed on any device (mobile, tablet, laptop), not to mention that they are compatible with any browser of your choice. SVGs feature a small image size and high-quality resolution.

The disadvantages is that SVG is not suitable for images consisting of many small elements, which tend to increase the file size. It also only works for vector-based art and 2D images, so you won’t be able to use this format for photos.

Conclusion

To summarize, each format has its own features and requires selecting the right tool for image optimization. PNG is perfect for high-quality flat images, icons, and logos for any website, though it will require a bit of storage space. If storage space is your primary concern, then JPG might be up your alley. GIF is perfect for animations and delivers fast quality image files by utilizing lossless compression. SVG is a vector-based format and the only format on this list that is written in code. It’s great for creating 2D vector images.

Although there are many other formats, the ones listed above seem to be the most popular and frequently used. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses can save you a lot of time and hassle. Not every problem is a nail nor is every tool a hammer. Selecting the right format for specific images may be athekey to better performance of your website and improved user experience.

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