How to Choose the Perfect File Format for Images?

two women looking at the code at laptop

How to Choose the Perfect File Format for Images?

As a graphic designer or photographer, the file you create is extremely important. Different file formats can offer different benefits for your images.

However, not all files format are created equal with different properties. When it comes to image files, there are a lot of options out there. Which one should you choose for your next photo or graphic? Here’s how to choose the perfect file format for images, let’s have a look.

two women looking at the code at laptop
Photo by Christina Morillo on

JPG/JPEG: Best for photography

JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is the most popular file format for images, and it is to store photos and graphics. These files are limited to only 24-bit RGB color or 8-bit grayscale and can contain up to 16 million colors, that was enough to record almost all the colors.

It is generally easy to use and compress, which makes it popular among users. JPG also supports several compression methods, such as lossless and lossy. Lossless compression is the best type of compression in JPG, which preserves all the detail in the file. However, this can be time-consuming and may not produce the maximum quality of a photo for some users.

Keep in mind that you should save your image file in 300 to 350 dpi resolution if you want it to print out well. But the file size will be larger, which is not recommended for website display because it will leave users waiting for a long time to load. As a printer, it is advisable to use CMYK color for printing purposes.

If you utilize JPEG for a website or show a customer a picture, retaining the quality from 72 to 100 dpi is enough. This makes it easy to share with the recipient either by email directly or on a publicly accessible website. RGB color spec is enough for displaying onscreen.

JPG file format for images
Image by Isaac Castillo from Pixabay

PNG: Best for graphics and logos

PNG (Portable Network Graphics) is similar to JPG in that it stores photos, and can handle 16 million colors. This is a lossless image format file, meaning that the image quality is not affected when compressed. This makes PNG a good choice for images that need to display at a high resolution.

It generally uses more storage space and requires longer to load than JPEGs and GIFs. They are generally larger and more complex than these files. They can slow down the responsiveness of a page.

PNG is right for compressing data such as graphics, icons, logos, and so forth, not by specialists but less detailed images. For highly detailed images like photography, posters, illustration, and so on, JPEG is entirely appropriate.

One of the major differences between JPEG and PNG files, PNGs have the ability to incorporate the transparent backgrounds of pictures that JPEGs cannot.

PNG file format for images
Image by kropekk_pl from Pixabay

One feature JPEG over PNG files, PNG does not support CMYK color spec, because of its design for websites with internet access in mind, rather than print.

PNGs also can not embed the EXIF data that digital cameras use for pictured information. However, JPEG files can store and screen this information, which consists of elements like the shutter speed and focal length.

GIF: Animated graphics

GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) are a popular way to share quick, animated graphics on the internet. They can use to express feelings or add humor to a conversation. It uses for marketing purposes or to create engaging content for websites and social media pages.

This format can also use to create a very short, one-time video. This is called a looping GIF. A looping GIF is a quick way to share a video or an animated graphic on the internet. But they don’t feature any audio and also low-resolution format, which is not ideal for printing

Each file can support up to 8 bits per pixel and can contain 256 indexed colors. Because GIF file format can display a limited number of colors, they are not fit for high-quality images. GIF files are better in graphics and logos featuring sharp lines and minimal colors.

GIFs can incorporate backgrounds that are transparent, like PNGs. Therefore, it is often used to incorporate motion backgrounds into the visual or webpage design.

SVG: Scalable vector graphics

SVG is a markup language for describing two-dimensional vector graphics in XML. Images and animations can display on a web page, or used as part of an electronic document, such as a PDF.

It can create and edit on image editing or drawing software. SVG is a good choice for all kinds of drawings, logos, icons, charts, schematics, and anything that has more than one direction. SVG files can scale to any size without loss of quality.

The SVG file format is not just used for static images. There are various website design instruments you can use to incorporate animations into your internet graphics. SVG animations can contain relatively basic components, like a slider control to move between different slides in an online infographic.

Also, SVGs are vector images whereas PNGs are raster images. Stretched beyond their limitations, stretched PNG files get blurry and pixelated. SVGs don’t contain pixels, so they never lose their sharpness. However, due to lack of pixels make it difficult to display digital photographs.

AI: Adobe Illustrator files

AI files are vector graphic files that use in the Adobe Illustrator. They can contain text, shapes, and paths. You can create AI files in Adobe Illustrator or other compatible vector graphic software. AI files are mainly used in web design and graphic design. They can edit with Adobe Illustrator without losing their quality with no impact on resolution.

They can be great for printing digitally designed images, drawings, and graphics, as the details are sharp and details remain clear no matter how big the image gets. By contrast, raster images can lack definition when scaled down or printed in different sizes.

AI files allow great detail with transparency. This provides AI a usable starting point when creating graphics that must layer on top of different images.

PSD: Adobe Photoshop files

Adobe Photoshop is a commonly used program for editing digital photos. PSD (Photoshop Document) files are the native format of Adobe Photoshop. They contain all of the data about the photo, including the layers, effects, and text that use to create it. PSD files are not widely used outside of Photoshop, so they are not as well supported by other programs as JPEG or PNG files.

Photographers who use Adobe Photoshop for post-processing actions such as image editing, retouching, and compositing. Users can produce amazing photos using its innovative feature, which is a must-have tool for artists.

PSD contains a raster image format, which means it will “pixelate” when scale up. But, this file type is beneficial for print by setting the print resolution to 300 or 350 DPI.

PSD images can store huge amounts of image data, including several layers with different images or graphical elements. PSD file sizes vary, but there is a maximum image size of 2 gigabytes. They can create distinctly large, editable files.

EPS: Encapsulated PostScript

An EPS file is a high-resolution image that can use for printing. The file type is supported by many software applications and can be edited using vector-based drawing programs. It is a proprietary file format for images, that use with PostScript printers and images to create large, detailed images, including billboards, posters, and marketing materials.

The bitmap data preserves hierarchical, independent color-coding on size and shade. This retains the resolution of the image across different levels of scale.

Adobe created Encapsulated PostScript, an image file, in the late 1980s. The format was created to be more straightforward to incorporate pictures and illustrations into text-based creations. EPS files have a simple function as a legacy file format for images that is compatible with nearly all systems and software today.

Raster Vs Vector

Raster vs Vector
Image by MaxCompose

There are two types of images: raster and vector. Raster images are made up of a grid of pixels, while vector images are made up of lines and curves. Raster images are resolution-dependent, meaning that the more pixels there are, the higher the image quality. Vector images, on the other hand, are resolution-independent, meaning that they can scale up or down without losing any image quality.

Raster images that can rescale by losing resolution, vector documents do not lose resolution when enlarge because their design is based on a single, ever-evolving equation that can be spread indefinitely across multiple sections of the image. Because raster images have a set number of pixels per inch, they may not retain crisp quality or “pixelated” when stretched too far.

Vector vs Raster file format for images
Vector vs Raster (Image Credit: Robert Baldwin)

What file format for Images should provide to the customer?

When you are providing images to a customer, it is important to understand the file format that they need. Different formats work better for different purposes.


If you’re a photography professional, JPEG will be the ideal place for clients to receive the photos that you’ve created. A customer may not be able to make nearly as beautiful as you, but they just want the final edit or completed product from you.

Don’t provide the PSD format to customers, but you should preserve it well. For example, your customers might one day ask that you adjust a photo. You should get in on your storage.

Graphic Design

As a graphic designer, I always prepare more variables in the type of file format for images. Some graphic was designed for the designer instead of the final user. So, for each design, I will create more copies of different file formats.

  • PNG your images if you’d like to simplify them for customer confirmation before distributing your source file.
  • AI format is given to customers once everything is confirmed, without modifying it in any way.
  • EPS format will provide customers an alternate, due to not all the clients have subscribed to the Abode Illustrator software, so EPS lets customers use different vector editing software.


In conclusion, it is important to choose the right file format for images. Picking the wrong format can lead to decreased image quality and a cluttered website. By following the tips in this article, you can choose the perfect file format for images every time.


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