Every one of us, at one time or another, have faced the dilemma – to save our images in the PNG or Jpeg format. This Jpeg vs PNG debate is a long-running tale of pros and cons, with neither side willing to give in to the superiority of their preferred image format.
Since the advent of digital imagery, people have been trying to come up with image formats that could be used to save them at the smallest size possible, without losing the details. And although both PNG and Jpeg are raster-based image formats, something which is avoided by many a graphic design agency or designer, each of them have their own advantages depending on the application.
Let’s take a look at what sets PNG and Jpeg apart, and what each of them can be used for.
As we mentioned before, both PNG and Jpeg are raster-type image formats. That means that they manipulate graphics at the pixel level, unlike vector-type formats. That means that when compressing these images, there is a chance of details getting lost.
That bring us to the Jpeg Vs PNG debate.
PNG is considered a Lossless image format, meaning that the quality of the graphics remains the same before and after compression. Notice that I use the word considered here, because PNG as a raster type is inherently Lossy compared to vector graphics formats.
Jpeg, or JPG, on the other hand, is a somewhat Lossy format compared to PNG, and is used to compress and store images for everyday use.
Now, by the descriptions above, you might have understood that the most basic difference between the two has to do with the quality of the final image. One gives virtually the same image as the original, while the other loses some of its detail.
And while the difference is simple enough, the lower quality might not always be a bad thing, especially when the situation and different types of graphic design demand it.
Jpeg, also known as JPG, stands for Joint Photographic Experts group. It is the standard image format used to store compressed image data, when a smaller size is desired at the expense of a little quality loss.
However, while the compression format drops the file size drastically, the end result is still of reasonably acceptable quality.
PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, and is a lossless graphics compression format. It was originally conceived as an improved replacement to the GIF file format. Its purpose was to transfer images to the internet in reasonable quality, but not for print. That is why it only supports RGB/RGBA color palettes instead of CMYK.
And despite being virtually lossless, the file sizes are relatively small, making it perfect for digital uses such as the internet.
As we discussed earlier, we cannot judge the suitability of an image format based purely on the quality of image it produces. Each compression format has its own place, such as JPG being the popular choice for storing large quantities of images within a limited storage limit. Therefore, as PNG and JPG has entirely different purposes, the Jpeg vs PNG debate is a moot point.
PNG was specifically created as a mode of transferring images over the internet, something previously done using the GIF format. Images compressed using the PNG format can be palette-based color combinations, RGB/RGBA full color, or even grayscale, but doesn’t support print color schemes like pantone or CMYK.
The best feature of PNG, which JPG lacks, is its ability to store and address transparencies. That means that this compression format is best where the image background needs to be transparent, such as for logo files. Moreover, it is also the format of choice where the image needs to portray fade effects.
The Jpeg compression format, on the other hand, has been primarily used for processing and producing digital photographs and graphics where complex shading and palette is needed without a huge file size.
Compared to PNG, JPG’s 10-to-1 compression ratio makes quality loss unavoidable. However, despite the smaller size, the images are still vibrant. That makes it a great format to store and share photographs over the internet.
While it may offer great results in photographs and other rich graphics, it works dismally for line drawings, textual imagery, and other graphics like them. That is because the sharp contrast required for such imagery requires lossless compression, which is something JPG doesn’t provide.
While neither is specifically designed for printing, if you need to use either of these formats, the choice of compression format depends on what you want to print. For photos, Jpeg would be the format of choice, as it is the compression style used commonly for digital photographs and graphics with vibrant and life-like color schemes.
However, if you need to print some kind of illustration or design with fine lines or stark contrast, PNG is the format of choice. This goes for designs such as logo files with intricate logo fonts, or other graphics where sharpness of the design is necessary for the overall effect.
When it comes to judging Jpeg vs PNG purely on the basis of quality, PNG recreates more vibrant and true-to-original compressed images. That is because unlike JPG, PNG actually stores transparencies, which makes the end result virtually lossless.
The size difference for Jpeg vs PNG varies greatly, depending on the image being compressed. If the image has a lot of fade effects and transparencies, then the PNG will be quite larger than the JPG file. However, for simpler images, the difference in file size will not be that huge, as the core purpose of both image formats is to provide the best image quality for storage and sharing, with the best quality possible.
As we discussed before, the choice of opting for JPG or PNG compression format depends entirely upon what you want to do with the image you receive at the end. If you want to store a large number of images in a limited storage space, with sufficient quality to enable sharing via the web, go for Jpeg.
However, if you want to portray the image online with all of its fade effects and transparencies, then PNG is the format for you.
Suppose you have edited a set of images from your last family dinner, and want to save them to the cloud as part of your family keepsakes. However, storing them in RAW or other formats would take up too much space, which is usually limited for many of us.
Now comes the part where many who are unaware of the Jpeg vs PNG qualities would end up making the wrong choice. But now that you know the purpose for each of these compression formats, you will be able to make the right choice and save your valuable memories in the right image format.