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There are five main types of image files used on the internet. GIF, JPEG and PNG files make up a large majority of these files, with BITMAP and TIFF also largely predominant. Of course there are many other image file types but they will not be discussed here.

 


GIF (.gif) (CompuServe)
The most common type of image file on the internet today.
GIF images are limited to 8-bit (256 or fewer colors) making them smaller and faster to transfer across data networks. GIF images can also be referred to gif89a or gif87a as slight variances of the GIF format now support transparent color.
 
  Advantages
* Most widely use image format on the internet.
* All graphic web viewers support the GIF format for inlined images.
* GIFs of diagrammatic images look better than JPEGs.
* Allows the use of transparency and the interlacing of images.




JPEG (.jpg) (Joint Photography Experts Group)
JPEG files are generally larger files as they are capable of 24-bit color (24 million colors). Compression in a JPEG image is achieved partly when the image is saved by a user definable level of detail in the image being discarded, because of this if a JPEG image is repeatedly edited in an image editing program the image will gradually degrade in quality. The number of times this can be done before the change becomes noticeable depends upon the amount of compression applied. Viewing, copying, moving uploading to a web server or downloading has no impact on a JPEG's image quality.
 
  Advantages
* Gives excellent image quality in most photographs and medical images.
* Supports full or "true" color images (24-bit)
* Huge compression ratios for faster download speed.




PING (.png) (Portable Network Graphics)
The PNG file format is relatively new and was designed to replace the simpler GIF format and the complex TIFF format. This was done due to legal problems with the LZW algorithm sometimes used in GIF and TIFF. PNG files are capable of 32-bit color.
 
  Advantages
* Variable transparency
* Two-dimensional interlacing (a method of progressive display)
* Does not use LZW algorithm which was patented (US patent expired in June of 2003).




BITMAP (.bmp) (PC Paintbrush - many)
A very old file format which is still widely used today. Allows up to 24 bit color (16.7 million colours).



TIFF (.tiff) (PageMaker - CorelDRAW)
By far the best quality image out of the five. TIFF files offer up to 48-bit color (48 million colors). Commonly used for professional or commercial images.



  


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