PNG, GIF, SVG and JPG: how do I pick one?

If you are not familiar with image file types, if you are like all those people who see the file extensions after the image’s file name and just quickly disregard it or ignore it, then this article might be helpful in understanding the differences between these image formats. However, you could be also someone who has very peculiar needs, maybe has to deal with both images and animations file formats daily.

As everything else in life, every single image format has both pros and cons to show. But they are pretty easy to be distinguished because each one of them was created for a specific purpose. The question we need to find an answer to is therefore: what is the difference between all of them? How do I know which one is the most appropriate format to use for what I have to do?

GIF, also known as Graphic Interchange Format
It is one of the oldest image format online. It has some features in common with JPG and PNG formats, but unlike those file it has a limited amount of colors. Only 256 actually. This means that the GIF format is not advisable for extremely colorful photos, obviously, because it does not have a good range of colors. However, the fact that GIF has not that many colors helps a lot in keeping the size of the file relatively small – that would explain why it is so popular on the Internet.

You can use the GIF format to create little icons or, like most people do, to create very simple animations.

JPG (or JPEG)
Someone refers to this format as JPG, someone else as JPEG. Both will work and are generally accepted. The acronym stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group and it is very different from the GIF format thanks to the millions of colors it can generate and display. This format is so popular that most digital cameras generate pictures that come out having this extension. Photographs as well like to use JPG most of the times because it gives you the chance to choose how much you actually want to compress a picture. However, when you want to edit the file and export it time and time again throughout the editing process, you end up losing a lot of the quality and that is not recommendable.

PNG
The PNG format (Portable Network Graphics) is almost like the child of JPG and GIF formats. Because you can use it for graphic purposes thanks to its transparency options like GIF, but it also displays millions of colors in its palette, just like JPG. PNG usually offers high quality for the pictures, but as a consequence it generates very large files. But if file dimension is not a problem, PNG is definitely to consider, even though it does not have an animation choice unlike GIF.

SVG
Last format to describe is the SVG format; also known as Scalable Vector Graphics. Now, this is an entirely different business when compared to the three formats already described above, and that is because it belongs to a different category. It is not bitmap kind of format, but a vector one, which is closer to Adobe Illustrator. However, it is not that impossible to embed bitmap graphics within the SVG file you have. It is more common that you would think.

SVG format can make your pictures look extremely beautiful on the Internet. However, it is not exactly that widespread among social media platforms, website providers and so on. Most of the times, your SVG images will be automatically converted to other formats or simply stopped while in the middle of the uploading process.

So basically it is a good format, but it still has to catch on the Internet. It might take some time; just keep an eye on it.

Conclusion: 
Because there are so many image formats and so many different necessities and demands, there will never be the perfect format to use that makes everyone happy. Our advice is to weigh down the pros and cons for every format and to pick the one that can satisfy your needs in the best way. Or just be patient and try every single one of them!

As always, you can use our Image Converter to convert your PNG, GIF, SVG and JPG files to lots of different image formats.

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