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What image file format is best

To keep this simple, I will deal with the two main image types used on the Internet.

1. GIF – stands for Graphics Interchange Format, a bit-mapped graphics file format. GIF supports color and various resolutions. Unlike JPG, the GIF format is a lossless compression technique and it supports only 256 colors. GIF is better than JPG for images with only a few distinct colors, such as line drawings, black and white images and small text that is only a few pixels high. With an animation editor, GIF images can be put together for animated images. GIF also supports transparency, where the background colour can be set to transparent in order to let the colour on the underlying Web page to show through.

2. JPG – Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, the original name of the committee that wrote the standard. JPG is a lossy compression technique that is designed to compress color and grayscale continuous-tone images. The information that is discarded in the compression is information that the human eye cannot detect. Because of information being lost when the image is compressed, repeated saving of JPG’s leads to ‘artifacts’ or distinct patterns often around the edges of different areas of colour. If you do intend to work on a JPG, it is best to save the new image as a new file in case you need to go back to teh original. JPG images support 16 million colors and are best suited for photographs and complex graphics. The user typically has to compromise on either the quality of the image or the size of the file. JPG does not work well on line drawings, the image loses clarity and sharpness.

Paul Wood

Website design and maintenance

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