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PNG Vs JPEG – What’s the Difference?

Suffering from file type confusion? You’re not the only one. Thousands of us are in a tizz over what is what with photography files. This article seeks to clear up the confusion between JPEG and PNG files.

Not everyone is a photographer and that’s just fine. Some of us are good at filming, some of us are better at lighting, some of us don’t have a creative bone at all – all this is fine. However, when it comes to studying photography, or even just trying to take better Instagram shots, it’s better if we know what we are doing. One of the simplest ways to sort out the images in your head is by learning file types and what they mean. Do you know what the difference is between PNG and JPEGs? If not, you are in the right place. Let’s get started.

What is a JPEG?

A JPEG is the industry standard format for saving photography files. It stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. JPEG file types first saw use in 1992, before those early websites were launched for the public. It uses a lossy compression system to store the data in digital media files.

Don’t know what lossy compression is? You’re not alone. Researchers deem it as a type of compression where data is deliberately lost form the original file. Lossless compression, the opposite, is when every single piece of information from the original file is saved. This is fine for written files, but for audio and visual files which get large quickly, it’s better to use a lossy compression type.

So a JPEG is a professional image file which compresses your pictures down into easy to transmit sizes. Anyone who has ever tried to send captured film or photo data over the internet without compression can vouch for why this tech is so essential. Let’s move on to see what a PNG file type is by comparison.

What is a .PNG?

Sometimes called a transparent png, PNG files are similar but not quite the same as JPEGs. PNG files are all about using images as graphics, so taking an image as a digital file and storing it in particular ways. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphic, and it is a type of uncompressed raster file format.

Don’t know what a raster file format is? Don’t panic. Raster files relate specifically to graphics. A singular raster is a two dimensional picture which is set inside a gridded area of square pixels. This means your original image is taken as a ‘layer’. Raster images are made from the tiny dots in the grid. This allows you to do more things with them.

Making PNG files is fun. Saving an ordinary JPEG as a PNG file lets you play around with the image. Famously, PNG files allow for transparent space within the photograph. JPEGs can’t do this. JPEG files are associated with photography, while PNGs are associated with the edit.

Which File Type do You Need?

If you want to store photos you took on a work night out, you need the JPEG format to condense the data into a small enough package to store it. If you want to cut out images to put on posters, use a photo editing software, or isolate specific parts of your photo, then you need PNG files.