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Image file formats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Image format” redirects here. For the camera sensor format, see Image sensor format.
This article is about digital image formats used to store photographic and other images. For disk-image file formats, see Disk image. For digital file formats in general, see File format.

Image file formats are standardized means of organizing and storing digital images. Image files are composed of digital data in one of these formats that can berasterized for use on a computer display or printer. An image file format may store data in uncompressed, compressed, or vector formats. Once rasterized, an image becomes a grid of pixels, each of which has a number of bits to designate its color equal to the color depth of the device displaying it.

Image file sizes

Generally speaking, in raster images, Image file size is positively correlated to the number of pixels in an image and the color depth, or bits per pixel, of the image. Images can be compressed in various ways, however. Compression uses an algorithm that stores an exact representation or an approximation of the original image in a smaller number of bytes that can be expanded back to its uncompressed form with a corresponding decompression algorithm. Considering different compressions, it is common for two images of the same number of pixels and color depth to have a very different compressed file size. Considering exactly the same compression, number of pixels, and color depth for two images, different graphical complexity of the original images may also result in very different file sizes after compression due to the nature of compression algorithms. With some compression formats, images that are less complex may result in smaller compressed file sizes. This characteristic sometimes results in a smaller file size for some lossless formats than lossy formats. For example, graphically simple images (i.e. images with large continuous regions like line art or animation sequences) may be losslessly compressed into a GIF or PNG format and result in a smaller file size than a lossy JPEG format. Vector images, unlike raster images, can be any dimension independent of file size. File size increases only with the addition of more vectors. For example, a 640 * 480 pixel image with 24-bit color would occupy almost a megabyte of space: 640 * 480 * 24 = 7,372,800 bits  = 921,600 bytes = 900 KiB

Image file compression

There are two types of image file compression algorithms: lossless and lossy. Lossless compression algorithms reduce file size while preserving a perfect copy of the original uncompressed image. Lossless compression generally, but not always, results in larger files than lossy compression. Lossless compression should be used to avoid accumulating stages of re-compression when editing images. Lossy compression algorithms preserve a representation of the original uncompressed image that may appear to be a perfect copy, but it is not a perfect copy. Often lossy compression is able to achieve smaller file sizes than lossless compression. Most lossy compression algorithms allow for variable compression that trades image quality for file size.

Major graphic file formats

Including proprietary types, there are hundreds of image file types. The PNG, JPEG, and GIF formats are most often used to display images on the Internet. These graphic formats are listed and briefly described below, separated into the two main families of graphics: raster and vector. In addition to straight image formats, Metafile formats are portable formats which can include both raster and vector information. Examples are application-independent formats such as WMF and EMF. The metafile format is an intermediate format. Most Windows applications open metafiles and then save them in their own native format. Page description language refers to formats used to describe the layout of a printed page containing text, objects and images. Examples arePostScript, PDF and PCL.

Raster formats

JPEG/JFIF

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) is a lossy compression method; JPEG-compressed images are usually stored in the JFIF (JPEG File Interchange Format) file format. The JPEG/JFIF filename extension is JPG or JPEG. Nearly every digital camera can save images in the JPEG/JFIF format, which supports eight-bit grayscale images and 24-bit color images (eight bits each for red, green, and blue). JPEG applies lossy compression to images, which can result in a significant reduction of the file size. Applications can determine the degree of compression to apply, and the amount of compression affects the visual quality of the result. When not too great, the compression does not noticeably affect or detract from the image’s quality, but JPEG files suffer generational degradation when repeatedly edited and saved. (JPEG also provides lossless image storage, but the lossless version is not widely supported.)

JPEG 2000

JPEG 2000 is a compression standard enabling both lossless and lossy storage. The compression methods used are different from the ones in standard JFIF/JPEG; they improve quality and compression ratios, but also require more computational power to process. JPEG 2000 also adds features that are missing in JPEG. It is not nearly as common as JPEG, but it is used currently in professional movie editing and distribution (some digital cinemas, for example, use JPEG 2000 for individual movie frames).

Exif

The Exif (Exchangeable image file format) format is a file standard similar to the JFIF format with TIFF extensions; it is incorporated in the JPEG-writing software used in most cameras. Its purpose is to record and to standardize the exchange of images with image metadata between digital cameras and editing and viewing software. The metadata are recorded for individual images and include such things as camera settings, time and date, shutter speed, exposure, image size, compression, name of camera, color information. When images are viewed or edited by image editing software, all of this image information can be displayed. The actual Exif metadata as such may be carried within different host formats, e.g. TIFF, JFIF (JPEG) or PNG. IFF-META is another example. Source / read more – https://goo.gl/NeNo4i

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