Understanding the most popular image formats - PNG vs JPG

By Vishnu Subramoniam | Convert to PDF

Understanding the most popular image formats - PNG vs JPG

An image is a visual representation of something or anything. In the digital world, an image is represented in binary. Russell Kirsch, an American Engineer, was the first to create a digital image by converting a photograph of his three-month-old son into a digital file. He used an early version of the computer to create a 176×176 pixel image and came to be later known as the inventor of ‘pixel’.

Most of us already know, saving any file to a computer would require a file format. Depending on the type of file being saved, the present day has hundreds of file formats being used all across the digital universe. Likewise, images also have a number of file formats to boast based on the type of image, compression, quality, usage, and more.

If we consider an end-user, the most commonly used image file formats are JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) and PNG (Portable Network Graphics). In this article, we are trying to understand these file formats in detail and their key differences.

What is a JPEG image?

JPEG is the short form for Joint Photographic Experts Group. A JPEG or JPG image format is the most commonly used format for lossy compression for digital images, particularly for those images produced by digital photography. The JPG file type is popular due to the high-quality standards it delivers at a considerably smaller size.

Yes, the quality of the images is good enough for most common usages, but they fail to meet the standards to fit into web design or image editing platforms that require more data to be carried in the image files. The main letdown of the JPG format is they do not support transparency in the image layers. For that reason, they cannot be used for creating icons, logos, or images that require a transparent layer in the output.

What is a PNG Image?

Portable Network Graphics, popularly known as PNG is a raster image format that supports lossless compression. Developed as an improvement to the graphics interchange format - GIF, they are capable of containing 24bit RGB color palettes, greyscale images, and full-color non-palette-based RGB or RGBA images.

Due to their high quality and the ability to support transparency, they are the most preferred format for design jobs in Web, iconic graphics, and logos as these images can be easily layered over another background of a picture or pattern. PNG file format is a patent-free open format and hence loved by the creators on the Internet and widely used without the need for a license.

PNG vs JPG - The Pros and Cons

Let’s now briefly look at what are the important points that make these formats the most popular in the world.

Advantages of using PNG

  • Lossless compression. The quality and details of the image are not hampered by the compression in most cases.
  • Support for a large number of colors. PNG-8 (256 colors) and PNG-24 (about 16.7 million. Colors).
  • Supports better transparency. The PNG format has 256 levels of opacity from fully opaque to fully transparent, and an alpha transparency layer.
  • Ideal for Editing Images: PNG format retains image quality regardless of repeated editing and compression.
  • Sharp edges and solid colors - Great for images containing texts, line arts, and graphics as they do not produce any visual artifacts.

Disadvantages of PNG

  • Larger file size than JPEG.
  • Doesn’t support animation like GIFs.
  • Due to the lack of support to non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK, not ideal for professional-quality print

Advantages of the JPEG format

  • Highly Portable - Due to their smaller file size to quality ratio, and load times they are largely used.
  • The JPEG format supports 24-bit colors with up to 16 million colors producing high-quality vibrant images.
  • Faster loading due to small size.
  • Wide range compression.
  • Compatible with most devices, browsers, and software.

Disadvantages of JPEG

  • Lossy Compression. Details lost while compressing cannot be recovered.
  • Doesn’t support transparency.
  • Does not support layered images
  • JPEG format supports only 8-bit images.

Conversion of Image to PDF

As PNG and JPGs are the most commonly used image formats, they are the most converted image formats to other forms, e.g PDFs. It is a lot common in the digital world to convert one file format type to another and images are no exception. The search on the Web for services that can convert formats like JPG to PDF or PNG to PDF is through the roof.

PDF4me has the best solution to convert Images to PDF. And the best part is you can convert up to 150 images in a single job. The tool supports not just the JPG or PNG format, but also a lot of other formats like GIF, TIFF, BMP, SVG, and more.

Conversion of PDF to Images

When you convert PDF back to images also, the most-opted output format is a PNG or JPEG. Feel free to try the PDF to Image tool to see how was you can convert pages from a PDF to high-quality JPG or PNG files. The tool also provides flexible options to configure the dimensions of your output image.

To conclude the use of either of the format highly depends on the purpose. If you are a designer or looking for graphics to develop a website, the best choice would be a PNG. On the contrary, if you are a digital artist or photographer looking for the best format for print or publishing, the right option would be JPEG.

Related Blog Posts