JPEG vs GIF– Harness tech understanding

Posted by Chetan Bharadwaj | Posted in Designing | Posted on 05-09-2009

JPEG vs GIFAre you often confused between .gif and .jpeg extensions when you are deciding a file format for your web images? Great! You are looking at the right place for a solution.

Fundamentally, both of these formats compress an image to make it web worthy. Any file with a .jpeg or.gif extension is recognized as an image file by a browser. Only when a site loads quickly into a browser we tend to declare it good in spite of the best functionalities operating otherwise. Agreed? Therefore, it is necessary that the file size of the web page remains small.

Here are stated few points that one needs to know about JPEG & GIF: (a subtle reminder for those tech people who know it 😉 )

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

  • JPEG uses a glossy compression scheme. This signifies that some data will be lost during the process of compression. The quality is inversely affected as more and more compression is done.
  • When compared to GIF; browser takes a longer time to display JPEG file.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

  • Image is compressed using LZW compression scheme through GIF. Confused? Even I was when I first came across it. It means that the quality of the image does not degrade when it is compressed.
  • GIF89a format incorporates transparency. Isn’t it great? Especially when graphic has to be blended in with the background.
  • GIF allows simple animation except the more advanced Flash movies.

When to use what:

One of the worst mistakes that anyone can make is to choose the wrong format for a particular type of image since each of the formats (viz., JPEG & GIF) has its own particular advantage over the other.

GIF files support a maximum of 256 colors. This makes it practical for almost all graphics except photographic images. The GIF format is excellent at compressing images with no gradations and relatively lesser colors in it. While GIF’s may win out with the non-dithering and fewer color images, JPEG with its support for 16.7 million colors is king for dithered continuous tone images (Example:  Photographs). Hopefully, by now you must have determined the difference between JPEG and GIF usage. :)

NOTE: While using JPEG format, be sure to save the original file because once you lower the quality of an image and save it, the extra data cannot be regained.

Technology is at our disposal and the smartest web graphics can be obtained by complete knowledge and selective usage of the prior. So get going to harness tech understanding for spectacular results 😉

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