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Wednesday, May. 18, 2022

JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG, and RAW briefly explained

By Rex Dolby

The Van Wert Area Photography Club’s next meeting is Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m., at 114 S. Race St.  There will be more about that meeting next week.  For this week, we’ll try to simplify some information about the various files used mainly in photography.

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, which created this standard.  JPEG files are images that have been compressed to store a lot of information into a small-size file, but in that process, it loses some of the image detail (and thus it’s called “lossy” compression).

Most digital cameras store photos in the JPEG format, which allows you to take more photos on one camera card than you can with other formats. JPEG files are usually used for photographs on the internet, because they create a small file that is easily loaded on a web page and also looks good.

TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. TIFF images create file sizes that can be as much as eight times larger than JPEG, because TIFF images are uncompressed and therefore contain much more detailed image data.  TIFFs are extremely flexible in terms of color and provide more details in prints.

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics.  PNG creates a larger file than JPEG.  For images with some text, or line art, it’s better because the sky and lines look more natural.

GIF stands for Graphic Interchange Format. This format compresses images, but is different from JPEG because the compression is lossless (although no detail is lost in the compression, the file can’t be made as small as a JPEG).

GIFs also have an extremely limited color range which is suitable for the web but not for printing. This format is seldom used for photography because of the limited number of colors.

RAW doesn’t stand for anything. It is in all caps so it’s not confused with the word raw.  RAW is a file format that captures all the image data recorded by the sensor when you take a photo.  Because no information is compressed with RAW, you’re able to produce higher quality images, as well as correct problem images that would be unrecoverable if shot in the JPEG format.  Depending on the details in the photo, the size of a raw file may be three to four times that of a JPEG.

The difference when you shoot in JPEG format is that the camera does its own processing to convert the RAW information into a JPEG.  However, your camera isn’t as smart as your brain, nor is it as powerful as your computer. When you shoot RAW, you’re able to do that processing yourself. You can make the decisions on how the image should look, and produce much better results. Usually RAW is converted to TIFF before editing and color correcting.

We hope you found at least some of this information helpful.

POSTED: 03/30/16 at 1:47 pm. FILED UNDER: Camera Club News