BMP vs. PNG | What’s the Difference?

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A Graphic comparing the benefits of BMP and PNG files

Are you trying to decide between using  either Bitmap (BMP) or Portable Network Graphics (PNG) file type? With the ever-evolving digital landscape, it can be hard to discern which raster image format best suits your needs.

In this article, we will dive into what separates BMP and PNG files and discuss when they work best graphicallyto help you choose which one is right for you!

A woman using Adobe Lighroom to edit photos on her laptop

What is BMP?


Bitmap or BMP is an uncompressed format developed by Windows in the 1990s for high quality image display and storage. As an uncompressed file format, it can support a wide range of colors and settings without losing image quality. Its large file size makes it unusable in essentially all online use, but what it lacks in usage flexibility it makes up for in editing flexibility.

What are the benefits of BMP?


As an uncompressed format, BMP finds its strengths in the leeway it provides in editing without sacrificing quality. It renders all the colors in its images as is, leading to more accurate colors. This allows BMP images to be more easily edited and scaled to different resolutions. It also supports transparency, giving it extra flexibility in editing, and can be compressed if necessary to save size. Unlike other file formats, BMP files are capped at 4GB in size, which can give it the edge in storage capacity in niche situations.

What is PNG?


PNG, or Portable Network Graphics, is a lossless compressed image format developed in the 1995 and the current standard for high quality images on the web. It supports anywhere from 8 to 24-bit color, and as a lossless format, it maintains a relatively small file size while also preserving image quality. These features alongside others make it a solid choice for many different kinds of projects.

Find out more about PNG

What are the benefits of PNG?


The main benefits to PNG come from its versatility. It is a format that is compatible with a wide slew of programs and its lossless compression gives it extra benefit in situations where files need to stay small. PNG also supports alpha channels and subsequently transparency, making it especially useful for projects like website graphics that benefit both from the smaller file sizes and the additional features.

As mentioned above, PNG supports up to 24-bit color, letting it retain rich colors despite being smaller than RAW formats like BMP. In cases where you need your files to be usable in many programs or online, PNG can be very useful.

Two desktop monitors on a wooden desk

What are the differences between BMP and PNG?


The main difference between BMP and PNG is that BMP is uncompressed, while PNG is compressed. As such, BMP images store more data and thus are typically much easier to edit without affecting its quality. PNG images can also be edited, but stronger edits can result in potential artifacting and color banding due to compression. On the other hand, PNG tends to be much smaller than BMP and thus is more usable in storage-tight situations like websites or other online spaces.

Both BMP and PNG support transparency and can be compressed on varying levels to manage storage. In general, BMP is better used in editing and then converted to another file format for sharing or kept for storage, while PNG is better used in web-based uses like UI graphics and logos where one might need to balance space and quality.

One thing to note is that while PNG is still a commonly used file format today, BMP is largely been replaced by other formats in editing and is now most commonly used for storage.

Frequently Asked Questions


When should you use a BMP file?

BMP files are best used for images that require editing or are being stored with the most data intact. Their larger file size makes them unwieldly for web-based uses but can be mitigated with compression for storage.

Are BMP and PNG files interchangeable?

No, they are not interchangeable. BMP files are uncompressed, while PNG files are compressed. This differene has a massive impact on file size, compatibility, and flexibility in editing and use due to the amount of data stored in each file.

When should you use a PNG file?

PNG files should be used when you need an image with smaller file sizes that also support transparency and high color depth. This makes them perfect for online-based uses like logos and graphics that may need to interact with other assets on a webpage.

How do BMP and PNG files differ in file size?

BMP files are generally larger in file size than PNG files because they do not use any compression. PNG files use lossless compression, which can help reduce the overall file size while maintaining the same image quality.

Depending on the complexity of an image, a PNG file can be significantly smaller than a BMP file. BMP files can also be compressed if necessary to reduce size. In extremely niche situations, PNG files can actually be larger than BMP files because PNG does not have a maximum size; BMP files can reach a maximum of 4GB. However, these situations are rare.

How do BMP and PNG files differ in terms of quality?

Both BMP and PNG files can produce high-quality images. However, the image format’s quality depends on the image’s complexity. Since BMP files do not require compression, they can maintain a higher level of detail in complex images.

On the other hand, PNG files use lossless compression, image formats, which can help reduce the overall file size while maintaining the same quality level as a BMP file.

Therefore, when deciding between BMP and PNG files, consider the quality and size of the images to make an informed decision.

What are some of the major disadvantages of BMP files?

Some major disadvantages of BMP files include their large file size, outdatedness as a legacy format, and lack of support for color spaces besides RGB..

These drawbacks can make them less suitable for certain projects, such as logos or icons that require efficient space usage. Additionally, editing BMP files can be more time-consuming to work with in general due to their large size.

What are some of the major disadvantages of PNG files?

Some of the major disadvantages of PNG files include their inability to preserve some image data, including certain types of color palettes, graphics interchange format, and metadata.

Finally, certain software may not support PNG files or have limited editing capabilities without affecting image quality. These drawbacks should be considered when deciding between BMP and PNG files.

Which file format should you use in specific situations?

PNG files should generally be used for logos or icons requiring transparency or multiple resolutions. Additionally, they are better suited for web graphics due to their smaller file size and support for lossless compression.

On the other hand, BMP files are best suited for detailed images with no need for compression. However, each situation is unique, and the best file format should be chosen based on the project’s needs. Consider both the other file formats’ size and quality when deciding between BMP and PNG files.



Though BMP files are larger, they can be edited more easily because they contain more detail. They’re also lossless, meaning no data is lost when the other file formats are saved. This makes them ideal for large images that need high quality, such as photos.

PNG files, on the other hand, are losslessly compressed, and as such do not lose any data when they are saved.

This makes them much smaller than BMP files, making them ideal for web use where file size is important. These two formats each have advantages, so choosing the right one for your needs is important.

Consider the size of your image, the level of detail needed, and how it will be used before making a final decision. With all these factors in mind, jpeg image, you should be able to make an informed choice about which file format is best for your project.


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Leon Olagh

Leon Olagh is an experienced photo retoucher and editor. He shares insights and expertise in the field of photography through his blog posts. His work reflects a meticulous approach to the art of creating and refining visual content.

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