Most of our clients use images, be it sending, uploading or editing, on a frequent basis. However the general consensus seems to be that not many of them (or I can confidently assume others for that matter) understand the difference or advantages of different image/file types. Hopefully the following can clear up some of the confusion!
JPG – JPEG is the most common and universally accepted type of image. It is the most compatible image across a wide range of devices and operating systems. Although a JPEG (or JPG) has great ‘bang for buck’ in terms of quality versus file size, there is a lot of data that’s uncaptured in a JPG image – meaning a JPG photo will lack in detail compared to say a TIFF photo (which we’ll get to after). JPGs don’t support transparency, which for me is its most disappointing characteristic as I’m always overlaying images with other content (especially when it comes to web design). However as I mentioned, JPGs are great for file size, which is particularly great for web use. The smaller in file size your site assets are, the quicker your site will load. At the end of the day, they produce a great image which is high enough in quality that won’t take all day to load.
PNG – As a web developer I tend to have a love/hate relationship with PNGs. Because they support transparency, you can overlay/underlay them with other layers to achieve some great designs. However, PNGs that are large in dimensions can be very large in file size (bad for website load times). They are high in quality and support 24 bit RGB colour however do not support CMYK and therefore should not be used for print graphics.
TIFF – TIFF is the most popular image type for photographers as they produce a very high quality image. It supports full colour, various types of compression and can be saved with layers. However with great quality and advantages comes large file size. TIFF files will quickly fill up your storage and can be slow to load. For those reasons, TIFFs are not a suitable option for web use however they are a great format for publishing and print.
There’s a lot more that could be said about these image formats but hopefully that’s given you enough to go off when making your next decision about what format you should save an image as.