Сomparing and contrasting file formats

Image file formats provide a standardized method of organizing and storing image data - Сomparing and contrasting file formats introduction. This essay describes digital image formats used to store photographic and other image information along with their advantages and disadvantages.

.BMP file format

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The .BMP (bit mapped) image standard is used by Windows and elsewhere to represent graphics images in any of several different display and compression options. The .BMP advantages are that each pixel is usually independently available for any alternation or modification and that repeated use does not normally degrade the image because lossy compression is not used. Its main disadvantage is that file size are usually horrendous compared to JPEG, GIF and TIFF or other lossy compression schemes. The main advantage of BMP files is their wide acceptance, simplicity, and use in Windows programs. However, they may pose problems for users of other operating systems. Commonly, BMP files are used for Microsoft’s Paint program. Since most BMP files are uncompressed, and BMP’s RLE compression has serious limits, the large size of BMP files makes them unsuitable for file transfer. Desktop backgrounds and images from scanners are usually stored in BMP files.

.GIF file format

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format) is limited to an 8-bit palette, or 256 colors. This makes the GIF format suitable for storing graphics with relatively few colors such as simple diagrams, shapes and cartoon style images. The GIF format supports animation and is still widely used to provide image animation effects. It also uses a lossless compression that is more effective when large areas have a single color, and ineffective for detailed images or dithered images.

JPEG file format
The JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) image files are a lossy format. The JPEG format supports 8-bit per color – red, green, and blue, for 24-bit total – and produces relatively small file sizes. Fortunately, the compression in most cases does not detract noticeably from the image. But JPEG files do suffer generational degradation when repeatedly edited and saved. Photographic images are best stored in a lossless non-JPEG format if they will be re-edited in future, or if the presence of small “artifacts” (blemishes), due to the nature of the JPEG compression algorithm, is unacceptable. JPEG is also used as the image compression algorithm in many Adobe PDF files.

TIFF file format
The TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a flexible image format that normally saves 16-bit per color – red, green and blue for a total of 48-bits – or 8-bit per color – red, green and blue for a total of 24-bits – and uses a filename extension of TIFF or TIF. TIFF’s flexibility is both a feature and a curse, with no single reader capable of handling all the different varieties of TIFF files. TIFF can be lossy or lossless. Some types of TIFF offer relatively good lossless compression for bi-level (black and white, no grey) images. Some high-end digital cameras have the option to save images in the TIFF format, using the LZW compression algorithm for lossless storage. The TIFF image format is not widely supported by web browsers, and should not be used on the World Wide Web. TIFF is still widely accepted as a photograph file standard in the printing industry. TIFF is capable of handling device-specific color spaces, such as the CMYK defined by a particular set of printing press inks.


Compressed Image File Formats: JEPG,PNG,GIF,XBM,BMP By John Miano, Published 1999Addison-Wesley Professional

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