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File Formats

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  1. File Formats The most common image file formats, the most important for cameras, printing, scanning, and internet use, are JPG, TIF, PNG, and GIF.

  2. JPG • Compresses the data to be much smaller in the file. • Uses lossycompression, which is a strong downside. • Used when a small file size is more important than maximum image quality (web pages, email, memory cards, etc). But JPG is good enough in many cases, if we don't overdo the compression. • If you are concerned with maximum quality for archiving your important images, then you do need to know two things: • 1) JPG should always choose higher Quality and a larger file, and • 2) Do NOT keep editing and saving your JPG images repeatedly, because more quality is lost every time you save it as JPG (in the form of added JPG artifacts... pixels become colors they ought not to be - lossy). More at the JPG link at page bottom.

  3. TIF • TIF is lossless, which is considered the highest quality format for commercial work. • TIF is the most versatile, except that web pages don't show TIF files. • For other purposes however, TIF does most of anything you might want, from 1-bit to 48-bit color, RGB, CMYK, LAB, or Indexed color. Most any of the "special" file types (for example, camera RAW files, fax files, or multipage documents) are based on TIF format, but with unique proprietary data tags - making these incompatible unless expected by their special software.

  4. GIF • GIF always uses lossless compression, but it is always an indexed color file (8-bits, 256 colors maximum), which is poor for 24-bit color photos. • GIF is still very good for web graphics (i.e., with a limited number of colors). For graphics of only a few colors, GIF can be much smaller than JPG, with more clear pure colors than JPG).

  5. PNG • PNG can replace GIF today (web browsers show both), and PNG also offers many options of TIF too (indexed or RGB, 1 to 48-bits, etc). • PNG was invented more recently than the others, designed to bypass possible LZW compression patent issues with GIF, and since it was more modern, it offers other options too (RGB color modes, 16 bits, etc). • PNG remains excellent. Less used than TIF or JPG, but PNG is another good choice for lossless quality work.

  6. What is Resolution? • Dots of color or electronic pixels that make up a picture whether it is printed on paper or displayed on-screen.

  7. DPI • DPI (Dots per inch):The number of 'dots' or pixels per each inch of a printed or scanned document. • Pixels:  The exact number of 'dots' both horizontally and vertically that make up the file.  Pixels

  8. How Many Dots? • In black & white printing, the size and shape of the black dots and how close or far apart they are printed creates the illusion of shades of gray. • The more little dots that are used (up to a point) the clearer the picture. • The more dots in a picture, the larger the size of the graphic file. • Each type of display device (scanner, digital camera, printer, computer monitor) has a maximum number of dots it can process and display no matter how many dots are in the picture.

  9. Resolution Examples • A 600 DPI laser printer can print up to 600 dots of picture information in an inch. A computer monitor can typically display only 96 (Windows) or 72 (Mac) dots of picture information in an inch. • When a picture has more dots than the display device can support, those dots are wasted. They increase the file size but don't improve the printing or display of the picture. The resolution is too high for that device. • Pictures on the Web are usually 96 or 72 DPI because that is the resolution of most computer monitors. • If you print a 72 DPI picture to a 600 DPI printer, it won't usually look as good as it does on the computer monitor.