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You’ve spent so much time getting the perfect shot and now the time comes to saving your photo. It can be a little overwhelming since there are so many file formats to choose from. There’s a handful you actually need to know. In this post we’re going to go through exactly what these file formats are and what they are best used for. Choosing the right file format is important, as it plays a key role in the level of quality and post-processing you intend to do.

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JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Expert Group)

JPEG is the most commonly used format. Whether you are sharing your photos on social media or getting them printed, JPEG files are supported. JPEG is also the format most digital cameras provide as their default digital output. However, JPEG files are compressed in the camera and therefore have less detail and lower quality than a format such as RAW. Most often you can select the quality of JPEG (low, medium and high). The higher the quality, the less the file is compressed.

Best used for:

Sharing photos with friends and family via email, social media, photo albums, and small prints. Also for minimal post-production editing.

Pros:

  • Small file size; more can be stored on a memory card.
  • Faster file transfer times.

Cons:

  • Loss of quality due to compression.
  • Less freedom with image manipulation in post-processing.
JPEG High Quality

JPEG - High Quality

JPEG Medium Quality

JPEG - Medium Quality

JPEG Low Quality

JPEG - Low Quality

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNG is a lossless file format, meaning it can preserve your images without any loss in image quality. PNG files are ideal for use on the internet, however, overuse on a web server can result in a slower experience for users and increased bandwidth costs for the site owner.

Best used for:

Displaying images on the internet that require transparency.

Pros:

  • Retains image quality.
  • Ideal for overlays or logos.
  • Allows partial or total transparency.

Cons:

  • Not intended for print.

TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)

This is the most commonly used industry-standard file format because it’s highly flexible format that uses lossless compression. TIFF files are compatible with almost all image-editing and graphics applications currently available. They can also save ACDSee adjustment layers so they can be edited or rearranged at a later time, without losing any image quality. Similar to PNG files, TIFF is also able to preserve transparency. TIFF also supports a large number of color standards including CMYK, RGB, Lab, Indexed Color, and Grayscale Images.

Best used for:

Archiving images on your computer to preserve quality or for high-quality printing.

Pros:

  • Ability to manipulate photos extensively in photo editing software (ACDSee Ultimate 9).
  • Option to print at the highest quality and much larger print sizes.

Cons:

  • Larger file sizes.
  • Longer transfer and loading times.

RAW

RAW is the raw, unprocessed image. Similar to a negative in film photography, RAW files need to be processed into a viewable format. RAW files are generally available on advanced compact cameras and DSLRs. Most professional photographers shoot in RAW, since it produces the best possible image and allows for complete post-processing freedom.

Pros:

  • The best quality image file.
  • Wide-range of post-processing options.

Cons:

  • Large files requiring more storage ad longer post-processing times.
  • No standard RAW format, each camera manufacturer has their “style” of RAW.

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