JPEG vs. PNG: When and why to use one format over the other

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In integer imaging, 2 image formats prevail supra each else: JPEG (or JPG) and PNG.

At first glance, a azygous image shown successful some formats mightiness look identical, but if you look intimately capable and excavation into nan data, location is rather a quality betwixt them. One format isn’t ever amended than nan other, arsenic each is designed to beryllium utilized successful circumstantial circumstances based connected your needs for image quality, record size, and more. Here’s what you request to cognize astir some formats to make nan astir of their strengths and weaknesses.

What is nan JPEG format?

Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group — nan squad that developed nan format — JPEG has go nan modular compressed format successful integer photography and online image sharing owed to its observant equilibrium of record size and image quality.

The nonstop ratio differs depending connected nan programme and settings used, but nan emblematic JPEG image has a 10:1 compression ratio. If you commencement pinch a 10MB image and export it arsenic a JPEG, you should extremity up pinch a astir 1MB image. A JPEG should person almost zero perceptible quality successful quality, though this depends connected nan original image’s contented and record type.

To do this, JPEG relies connected discrete cosine toggle shape (DCT). While nan mathematics down it is complicated, this compression algorithm looks astatine nan full image, determines which pixels successful nan image are akin capable to nan ones astir it, and merges nan pixels successful tiles (groups of pixels that person nan aforesaid value).

This method is highly businesslike but comes astatine nan costs of throwing distant accusation you can’t get back. JPEG images (with a fewer exceptions mentioned below) are lossy, which intends that aft nan image is saved, nan mislaid information can’t beryllium recovered. So, conscionable for illustration making a photocopy of a photocopy, each clip you unfastened and prevention a JPEG, it will look somewhat worse than earlier until it yet loses each detail.

For this reason, JPEG is not suggested arsenic an archival image format because if you ever request to unfastened it and make edits again, you incur a nonaccomplishment of quality. Like Adobe Lightroom, nondestructive photograph editors tin thief skirt astir this rumor provided you ne'er delete your original files, arsenic they only prevention edits arsenic metadata alternatively than penning complete nan original image.

JPEG should besides beryllium avoided pinch text-heavy images aliases illustrations pinch crisp lines, arsenic defined lines thin to get blurred owed to anti-aliasing. (Anti-aliasing is an intentional blurring designed to destruct unsmooth edges.) As you tin spot successful nan image below, a screenshot taken from our homepage, nan matter and achromatic inheritance show galore artifacts connected nan JPEG (right) compared to nan PNG (left).

 a JPEG and a PNG, broadside by broadside for nan intent of comparison.

That said, location are times erstwhile you request to move formats for illustration PDFs into JPEGs. In those instances, it is champion to guarantee you export it astatine nan highest value settings to guarantee each of nan matter is sharp.

JPEG supports some RGB and CMYK colour spaces successful 8-bit, but its CMYK offerings time off overmuch to beryllium desired. (Modern printers grip RGB files conscionable fine, truthful this isn’t a immense issue. It would thief if you are still stuck pinch higher-quality formats for printing, however.)

Over nan years, galore variations of JPEG person travel and gone. For example, JPG-LS was designed to hole lossy compression, but it ne'er gained a foothold and yet fell to nan wayside. JPG 2000 besides attempted to reside nan lossless issue, but it, too, grounded to summation traction. BPG, a caller format based connected nan H.265 video standard, was wished to take complete JPEG but ne'er really caught on.

The JPEG creators precocious shared a caller format designed not to switch nan JPEG but to beryllium alongside it arsenic an action for faster streaming. In a JPEG XS, nan compression is only six times alternatively of 10, but simpler algorithms mean nan record is faster for streaming tasks. A imaginable replacement could travel successful nan shape of HEIF, which is besides based connected nan H.265 standard. Where others person failed, HEIF could win acknowledgment to nan support of 1 of nan biggest brands successful tech: Apple. It still has a measurement to go, but much image editing programs and much devices adhd support for nan caller format, specified arsenic JPEG Pleno, which offers users an fantabulous toolset that includes holographic imaging, texture-plus-depth, constituent clouds, and ray fields.

Pros Cons
Small record size Lossy compression
Integrated EXIF support Not awesome for CMYK printing
Widely supported No transparency support

What is nan PNG format?

An acronym for Portable Network Graphics, PNG is simply a lossless record format designed arsenic a much unfastened replacement to nan Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

Unlike JPEG, which relies connected DCT compression, PNG uses LZW compression, which is nan aforesaid arsenic GIF and TIFF formats. Boiled down, PNG’s two-stage LZW compression takes strings of bits contained successful nan image’s data, past matches those longer sequences to accompanying shortcodes held successful a dictionary (sometimes referred to arsenic a codebook) that is stored wrong nan image file. The consequence is simply a smaller record that maintains precocious quality.

The biggest advantage of PNG complete JPEG is that nan compression is lossless, meaning location is nary nonaccomplishment successful value each clip it is opened and saved again. PNG besides handles detailed, high-contrast images well. For this reason, PNG is much often than not the default record format for screenshots, arsenic it tin supply an almost cleanable pixel-for-pixel practice of nan surface alternatively than compressing groups of pixels together.

One of nan standout features of PNG is its support of transparency. With some colour and grayscale images, pixels successful PNG files tin beryllium transparent. This allows you to create images that neatly overlay pinch nan contented of an image aliases website. Many editing programs usage a checkered inheritance to bespeak a graphic’s transparency. This makes PNG awesome for logos, peculiarly those pinch text, utilized connected a website. If you create a transparent inheritance successful Photoshop and prevention nan images successful a JPG, connected nan different hand, that transparent inheritance becomes achromatic because nan format doesn’t support transparency.

When it comes to photography, PNG mightiness look for illustration a coagulated replacement to proprietary RAW formats for lossless image storage. Still, nan truth is, is that location are plentifulness of amended alternatives, specified arsenic Adobe’s Digital Negative (DNG) — which you tin moreover sprout connected your smartphone — and TIFF. PNG besides doesn’t natively support EXIF data, which includes accusation specified arsenic shutter speed, aperture, and ISO from nan camera it was captured with.

PNG was made for nan web, and it has proven its worth. JPEG mightiness beryllium nan format of a mostly of nan images. Still, PNG occupies an important niche that JPEG can’t efficaciously reach. It is fundamentally nan only prime erstwhile you request to intelligibly render a logo aliases matter complete different elements connected a website. It is besides heavy utilized by archivists, preservationists, and different accusation scientists erstwhile digitizing documents, ephemera, and realia for its precocious image value and lossless compression.

Much for illustration JPEG, PNG has besides had a fewer variations passim nan years. APNG is simply a still-supported format designed to replicate nan animated functionality of GIFs. It’s not astir arsenic prevalent but is supported by galore modern browsers.

Another nosy tidbit is that successful nan early stages of PNG’s development, it was suggested it beryllium called PING, an acronym for “PING Is Not GIF,” a cheeky excavation astatine nan creators of nan GIF format.

Pros Cons
Lossless compression Larger record size than JPEG
Transparency support No autochthonal EXIF support
Great for matter and screenshots

Bottom line: What’s nan quality betwixt JPEG and PNG, and which 1 is better?

Ultimately, neither image format is amended than nan other. It’s simply a matter of which 1 is amended suited for your needs.

If you want to stock a photograph from your camera connected Instagram, Twitter, etc. your champion stake is to usage a JPEG. It’s smaller successful size, it’s optimized for photography, and it’s wide supported crossed almost each level and work imaginable.

If you’re taking a screenshot that you scheme to annotate aliases archive for usage later, PNG will amended suit your needs. The record size mightiness beryllium larger than that of an balanced JPEG, but you don’t person to interest astir it losing value each caller clip it’s saved, and you cognize each pixel is arsenic crisp arsenic nan past clip you opened it. Like logos, astir web graphics are besides amended saved arsenic PNGs since they tin make usage of transparent areas.

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