PNG vs JPG: What’s The Difference And Why Does it Matter?

Thomas Miller

When it comes to images, why are there so many formats? Why does it even matter? PNG vs JPG, how does one decide which is better?

In premise, JPG is a raster graphics format that is best for realistic photographs with continuous color. PNG was developed for transferring images on the web, and not for high-quality print.

In this article, we will take a look at both in greater depth so that you can make an educated decision when it comes to choosing. 

If that something you feel like you need to know, you better keep reading.

JPEG File Format

As mentioned earlier, JPEG is a raster graphics format class, which produced a dot matrix network or bitmap of pixels. The standards define the coder that is used to encrypt the image into a byte stream, and then decode it when necessary.

In coding, the loss compression skips the details of the image to help decrease the total size depending on the required level of compression. The level of detail that is lost results in the tradeoff of quality and storage size. Nonetheless, JPEG allows 24-bit pixel input, which leads to a true-color tone when encoding. In most files, the ICC profile is embedded, such as Adobe RGB or sRGB.

The JPEG format performs the best with realistic images with smooth tonal and color changes. However, the performance is decreased for graphics, such as letters, logos, and cartoons. JPEG is also not great for images that require repetitive digital editing. The amount of detail lost each time during compression is the issue. 

It is not suitable for images with high precision, such as medical imaging, navigational charts, and scientific graphs. JPEG uses a variety of extensions, such as .JPG, as well as .JIF, .JFI, .JFIF, etc.

PNG File Format

Portable Networks Graphics is a format that has been developed to patent the GIF format. PNG was designed to transfer images across the web, and not for the purpose of high-quality print.

PNG makes use of raster graphics with lossless compression. It supports palette images with color profiles of 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA. Full-color non-palette or grey-scale images are also supported. Since it was not developed for print, it does not support CMYK and similar color profiles.

Nonetheless, a PNG image can always be converted to JPG for the sake of extending its usability. However, when converting images, you will experience some loss of quality anyway. So if will do so, make sure to export your PNGs at the highest possible resolution to ensure that the final outcome in JPG is adequate enough.

But Why Does PNG vs JPG Matter?

When you compare PNG vs JPG, you won’t be able to tell the difference in most cases. So if there’s no definitive difference, why not just make use of one and forget about the other?

Well, it comes down to image compression. Compression is used to decrease file sizes without compromising quality substantially. In general, the more compression, the smaller the size, the worse the quality. Good compression needs to find the perfect balance.

It’s great to look at a high-resolution image on your computer; the file is stored on your drive uncompressed. But if that image is online, it must be downloaded. Even with fast connections, large images can take minutes to load. And when it comes to website speeds, time is not something you can spare.

If you have several large images on a page, you can lose half of your visitors before they even saw anything. If we save a photo at 1080p in both formats, the quality would be practically identical. 

However, the wrong image format for the purpose will double the file size in comparison to the other format. In any case, you can always learn how to convert PNG to JPG, and vice versa. Thus, eliminating the hassle or inconvenience.

Image Compression

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So if images need compression, in compression, the differences will be more visible.

JPEG makes use of compression that groups similar pixels and blurs the line between them. This works great for photos but looks terrible on screenshots and graphics.

Strong JPEG compression leads to fuzzy outliers and lots of ghosting on the text. The same image, when saved as PNG, wouldn’t look as bad. However, if you examine the gradients, you will see graininess. The problem is the file size. A JPEG image can be saved very small without loss of quality, while PNG cannot be compressed so much.

The JPEG image could be well under a megabyte, which is great for the main images on webpages. Whereas, the PNG image might easily be 50% larger while serving the same purpose.

Even though the JPEG is under a megabyte, it’s still too large to be used on the web. That’s because they have not been compressed yet. Never make use of uncompressed images on websites.

Loading large uncompressed files will slow down all of the pages, thus sending the bounce rate sky-high. This problem affects many websites, so don’t’ make this mistake. 

Image Formats Elaborated

Now that you know the difference between PNG vs JPG, you are well on your way to make use of the image formats that actually suit your needs. In any case, as long as you ensure that you don’t over-compress, there isn’t much difference (unless you are uploading images to a website). 

If you’re interested in similar articles, feel free to check out the rest of our tech-related articles on the sidebar.

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