JPEG vs PNG

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In this post, we’ll take a look at JPEG and PNG and see which one is best for your needs.

As a general rule JPEGs are best for photos and images with lots of colors, while PNGs are best for line art, logos, and images with transparent backgrounds. JPEGs tend to be smaller in file size than PNGs, so if you’re looking to save space or shorten page loading times Jpegs are the way to go.

What is a JPEG?

 

JPG or JPEG (JAY-PEG) Is the world’s most popular digital format for photographic image files. The term ‘JPEG’ is an acronym for the Joint Photographic Experts Group, which developed the standard in 1992.

The file format has become widely popular for its efficient compression, which allows the file size to remain small and easily sharable. For this reason, JPGs are referred to as “lossy” formats. Typically JPGs are compressed, but the amount of compression is adjusted at the expense of storage size and image quality.

When to use JPEG. 

 
  • JPGs are best used where a small file is necessary. The quality of the image can be reduced to allow for smaller file sizes, making JPGs ideal for sharing on social media or via email.

  • Generally used for internet uses or any use that will require the photo to eventually be downloaded.

When to avoid JPG. 

 
  • Don’t use JPG for high-quality images or images that will be printed. The compression of JPGs can result in noticeable quality loss, especially at higher compression settings.

  • JPG does not support transparency

  • JPG compression can not be restored, so always keep a hold of the original file.

JPG vs JPEG? 

 

JPG and JPEG are the same file formats. There is no difference between the two, just different names.

What is JPEG2000?

 

JPEG2000 is an entirely different file format that was developed by the joint photographic expert’s group 8 years after JPEG. The format allows one to choose between lossless and lossy compression (even within a single image).

Today, the format is not widely popular among photographers or on the internet. JPEG2000 is used across satellites, digital cinema, broadcasting, high-end technical imaging equipment, and many uses in the medical field (X-rays, MRI, Ct Scans).

What is a PNG? 

 

PNG is a raster graphic data storage format that uses lossless compression, meaning that the quality of the image is not affected by the compression. PNG images can be easily moved from one computer to another without any quality loss.

PNG is short for Portable Network Graphic, a type of raster image file that uses the .png extension. It’s especially popular with web designers because it supports graphics with transparent or semi-transparent backgrounds. PNGs offer lossless compression and support over 16 million colors.

When to use PNG?

 

PNGs are best used where a high-quality image is necessary and/or file size is not as important.

  • PNG files can support very detailed images.

  • PNG files can be viewed and edited in many programs because it is an open format file type.

  • Unlike a JPEG file, a PNG image won’t lose any data when it’s compressed.

Cons of PNG files.

 
  • Because PNG files retain all of their original data, a PNG file will be larger than a JPEG or GIF. Larger files may cause storage issues or slow page loading times on the web.

  • Not always ideal for printing. Does not support CMYK color modes.

PNG and GIF relationship

 

PNG files are similar to GIF files in that they are both bitmapped image formats used to store digital images. PNG was developed as an improved replacement for the GIF format and offers several advantages over GIF, including:

  • Larger color depth (supporting up to 48-bit color as opposed to 8-bit color in GIF)

  • Alpha transparency support

  • Better compression than GIF, resulting in smaller file sizes

  • Smaller file size: On average, a PNG file is about 20% smaller than an equivalent GIF file. This is because PNG uses a lossless data compression

What is compression?

 

Compression is a technique used to represent data more efficiently, typically resulting in a smaller file size. Compression can be lossless or lossy.

Lossless compression means that no data is lost during the compression process and the original file can be exactly reconstructed from the compressed file.

Lossy compression means that some data is lost during the compression process, but the trade-off is a significant reduction in file size.

The main difference between JPG and PNG is that JPG uses lossy compression while PNG uses lossless compression.

PNG compression

 

PNG uses a lossless form of compression, meaning that no data is lost when the file is compressed. This results in smaller file size, but not as small as a JPG. PNG is best used for images with few colors, such as line drawings, logos, or icons. It can also be used for images with transparent backgrounds.

JPEG compression

 

The compression ratio of a JPEG file can be adjusted at the expense of storage size and image quality. Some of the image’s information is lost during JPEG compression to achieve a file size reduction. This means that JPEG compression can greatly reduce the size of a file but it can also compromise the quality of an image depending on the compression ratio.

The compression ratio or amount of JPEG compression is typically measured as a percentage. A JPEG saved at 100% will have almost no loss of quality. 80-90% maintains a high-quality image while reducing a significant amount of storage space. A JPEG saved below 30% is typically considered a low-quality range.

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to JPEG Quality, every image requires its own consideration. The ideal quality setting for any single image depends upon the detail, color, contrast, and desired outcome/use of your images. A low-quality setting may be acceptable for some photos and not for others.

Storage size 

 

JPEGs are well known for efficiently compressing files. This shrinks their file size which is convenient for freeing up disk space and speeding up page loading times.

PNGs’ lossless compression results in larger files because they retain more information. PNGs are generally larger files than JPEGs and GIFs.

Transparency

 

This is a significant difference between JPEG and PNG. JPEGs do not support transparency but PNGs do.

JPEGs don’t support transparency which makes them hard to blend smoothly with different colored backgrounds. Although jpegs do not support transparency, the jpeg2000 file format does support transparency.

PNG files do support transparency and semi-transparency. This is a large reason for PNGs’ popularity.

For printing

 

The PNG format has many benefits for print including vector support, lossless compression, gamma correction, and built-in transparency. Although these are important factors, there is a significant issue regarding color. The PNG file format does not support CMYK, the color mode that is preferred for printing. This means that there will be a color discrepancy between the print and the PNG digital mockup.

Find out more about CMYK and RGB color modes.

CMYK & RGB compatibility

 

JPEG supports both RGB and CMYK color modes while PNG only supports RGB. PNG does not support CMYK color models.

Displaying text

 

PNG files can display text-heavy images very effectively. Scans of printed or handwritten documents can be transferred to PNG with a high level of detail. Original image data does not get sacrificed during the compression process.

JPEG files can also display text-heavy images, though not as effectively as PNGs. JPEG compression can result in some degradation of image quality. This is less noticeable with higher compression ratios but can be a factor to consider when choosing between the two file formats.

JPEG files can also be used to scan printed documents, but the lossy compression means that some of the detail will be lost.

If you need to retain as much detail as possible from a document, PNG is the better option.

Are JPEGs and PNGs raster or vector files?

 

JPEGs and PNGs are both raster file types. This means that they are made up of a grid of pixels, with each pixel representing a different color or shade. Vector file types, on the other hand, are made up of lines and curves instead of pixels. This makes them ideal for images that need to be scaled up.

Animation

 

JPEGs can not be used to create animations.

PNG files also can not be used for animations, but they do have two ‘cousin’ file formats that can support animation called APNG and MNG. APNG stands for Animated Portable Network Graphics. MNG is similar to APNG, but is a bit more complex.

Conclusion

 

JPEGs are best used for photos or images with lots of colors. They compress files very efficiently, but this comes at the cost of some image quality. JPEGs do not support transparency or animation.

PNGs are best used for line art, text-heavy images, or images that require transparency. PNG compression is not as effective as JPEG, but PNG files retain more original image data.

 

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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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