This post can be viewed as a beginner's guide to the differences between a JPG, GIF, PNG, and SVG. Sometimes the differences in file formats are subtle and sometimes they are vast, but this brief explanation should give you a better understanding of each format and help you know when to use each them.
We’ve talked about format differences between file formats in the past, but we are bringing another element to the discussion this time by adding SVGs or scalable vector graphics to the equation. Retina monitors and high-resolution displays bring an entirely new magnitude of importance to web design so it’s a good idea to compare SVGs to JPGs, PNGs, and GIFs and talk about the best use for each. Be sure your website and graphics designer is an expert at logo design branding and offers website services that will work for your needs. Let's start with definitions of each format:
JPG or JPEG: Joint Photographic Experts Group
A JPG is optimized for photographs. JPG works by getting rid of the things that the eye is not likely to see or notice. JPGs are lossy raster files which means they lose a small amount of information everytime the JPG is saved. JPGs work with compressing color so they are great for photographs and complex digital imagery. A high-resolution jpg is usually also suitable these days for printing with most print-on-demand companies. We are mostly discussing web use here, but there are a variety of file formats available for print. The reduction of file size results in the reduction of image quality.
GIF: Graphics Interchange Format
This bitmap format supports up to 8 bits per pixel which limits its color palette to 256. Not good for photographs an are mostly known these days for simply animated memes. GIFs are not huge players in the web design world.
PNG: Portable Network Graphic
PNG was designed for use on the Internet and is the most largely used image compression format on the web. PNGs are not for printing professional graphic images. PNGs are raster graphics and were made as an improvement to the GIF. PNGs work well with line art images and photographs for websites but can result in really large file sizes. PNGs also offer alpha transparency which is very cool because each individual pixel has its own level of opacity. PNGs come in two types PNG-8 and PNG-24. PNG-8 means that the file has only 8 bits per pixel and the PNG-24 has 24 bits per pixel.
SVG: Scaleable Vector Graphic
SVGs are vector graphics that support animation and their behaviors are defined in XML files for they can be searched, indexed, scripted and compressed. Vector graphics are great for logos and line art because they aren't made from pixels and can be infinitely resized without losing quality or increasing in size. SVGs are your best option when creating icons and line art for high-resolution displays.
Best uses and differences chart
|Best Use||Digital Images, photography||Simple animations||Transparent images, icons, graphics||Logos, line art, icons, animations|
|High Res Use||Good||No||Okay||Great|
|Color||Millions||256||PNG 8 - 256, PNG 24 - Millions||Sky is the limit|
|Logo||Print and Web||Never||Web Only||Retina Display and Mobile|
*GIF Images are binary which means their transparency is either 100% invisible or 100% visible.
Seeing is often better when comparing file formats with colors and images. Below we will take a look at how logos, photographs, and complex icons look when side-by-side.
Winner: SVG - Loser: GIF
JPEG logo compressed 50% - 141 KB
JPEG logo with no compression - 643 KB
PNG-8 logo - 93 KB
PNG-24 logo - 10 KB
GIF logo - 9 KB
SVG logo - 3 KB
Winner: JPG photo with no compression - Loser: GIF. (SVG N/A)
JPEG photo compressed 50% - 114 KB
JPEG photo with no compression - 169 KB
PNG-8 photo - 93 KB
PNG-24 photo - 266 KB
GIF photo - 116 KB
Winner: SVG - Loser: GIF
JPEG icon compressed 50% - 233 KB
JPEG icon with no compression - 665 KB
PNG-8 Icon - 16 KB
PNG-24 Icon - 32 KB
GIF Icons - 86 KB
SVG Icons - 6 KB