Best Image Format for Web, Printing And Storing Photos

What is the best image format? Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, there are twenty one raster formats and about fifteen vector formats that can make your every graphic wish come true. And since there are so many, this little guide will help you to choose what you truly need out of the most popular formats.

Graphic formats are divided into raster and vector. Raster format is dot-based while vector format uses sums of vectors to create an image. Those formats have their advantages and disadvantages: for example, vector images are scalable, but raster images support more colors and more suitable for creating high-quality artworks.

To narrow down the search we will consider only the most commonly used image formats which are JPEG, TIFF and some of their relative formats. Those formats do not require specific viewers aside from a program they are designed for and that makes them appropriate for every user.

Best image format for web

Web pages are always in need of a nice little logo or a strict background image to serve as a base on which text will be placed. Even this very website uses images to adorn the place. So which of the formats is the best for your web page?

The answer is either PNG or SVG format. PNG is good for a web page because it supports trasparency. This means that you can place logo on the website and its background will be changing with the one of the site, even it it has a complex one.

SVG is good if you want animation and interaction on your webpage. SVG is a very simple, yet full of potential. It’s vector based and it gives almost everything that PNG format gives, but also allowing to create animations.

Best Image Format for Web

JPEG and GIF are also fine, but those are not transparent and can be pixelated if the quality level is bad.

Best Image Format for Print

Best format for printing

Printing is one of the most popular features in specialized shops. Images can be printed everywhere: from mugs to company merch, so there is a question arises: what graphic format is the best for printing?

To pick one of the formats that work good with printing, first of all you should think what type of format you want: raster or vector. Raster formats are good, because those are recognized everywhere. But vector formats are usually more scalable, which fits very well if you want to print on big surfaces. Without further ado, here are the two most suitable formats for printing.

Out of raster formats, the first place takes TIFF format. This format is lossless and is very popular with designers. It holds high-quality images, compatible with Mac and, the last but not the least, this format uses printing industry CMYK color standard, so there wouldn’t be any unexpected changes of color when the image will be printed.

The disadvantage of TIFF is file size which can be too large to store a lot of pictures in TIFF so minor software compatibility issues might occur.

For vector formats it’s good to use the EPS file format. This format might sound unfamiliar, but EPS features are surprisingly appropriate for printing:

+ lossless;
+ scalable to any size;
+ works not only with new software, but with very old machines as well;
+ even if the viewer wouldn’t show the preview of the file, the image will still be printable.

- doesn't support transparency.

Best image format for sharing images and PowerPoint

The most common social use of images on the internet is sharing them. Photos, cute pictures of cats, digital postcards – we receive them every day from our friends on social networks and colleagues via email. We use them in our PowerPoint presentations to help people understand our speeches better. So, what is the best format for sharing?

JPEG file format is one of the most popular graphic formats in the web. It is used to store images all over the world and here is why:

Best Image Format for Share
  • It supports 16M colors, being overpowered only by PNG. Huge color support allows user to share high quality images which look beautiful and reflect the true colors of the picture;
  • It doesn’t take a lot of space on a memory card, offering user to store more images of this format on their device. Moreover, images of smaller size are easier to download to Internet;
  • Every device with no exception will recognize and display images of this format. From IPhone to Android, Windows to Mac, it doesn’t matter also what browser you use: your JPEG files will be properly shown everywhere.

There are a few disadvantages to this format, too:

  • The quality is level-based. A quality level for a JPEG has values from 0 to 12. You should make sure that you aim to 8 or higher, otherwise your picture will be very pixelated and unattractive;
  • It does not support transparency. Unfortunately, there will always be a background, even if your JPEG picture consist of a small logo. For this purposes it’s better to use PNG format – it has better quality and supports transparency;
  • It does not work well with text and graphic shapes. Those could get blur and become unreadable. To work with text it is better to choose PNG or a vector-based format that supports text.
Best Image Format for Art and Graphic Desing

Best format for graphic design and art

With digital art and graphic tablets becoming more and more popular, there is a necessity to establish, what is the best format for drawings.

The PNG file format is full of potential. It’s best to save artwork in PNG: it supports layers and transparency, holds 256T of colors and has relatively small size of files. It can be edited in any program possible and its quality will stay put without losses of data.

If you want not only to edit images, but to have an option to edit it later on, PSD is perfect for you. It stores layers that do not merge together unless you want them to, so it’s the best format for prolonged editing.

The downsides are: clients do not accept drawings in PSD so it’s better to save them in PNG. The format is not suitable for the web.

Best format for storing images

Storing images is generally depends on what you want to achieve. If you want an image that has every possible detail saved in its bytes – pick a RAW format. It’s completely uncompressed, stores huge amounts of data about the image and can be processed into almost every other format if there is a need to.

If you want to store your images, but don’t want them to be gigantic piles of data that weights more than Grand Canyon, choose either PNG or JPEG. Those files are small, yet editable and easy to view without any specific software.

Learn also about other best formats: