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Adaptive Display's Digital Signage Blog

Understanding Different Types of Digital Image Files

Posted by Chad Bogan on Fri, Apr 17, 2015

How familiar are you with the extensions of your image files? It can really be confusing since there are several image file formats like - .jpeg, .bmp, .gif, .tiff, and a lot more. Don't disregard these image formats since it is very significant especially in the print and digital industry. 

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In fact, the original image file is the biggest factor in determining the quality of a sign. No matter how good the manufacturer or print shop is, if the image quality is poor, then don't expect a good result. We want our digital signage to look great, right?  So it is better to know the basics and important factors of image files so that you image will lead to a great signage. 

Sometimes the image looks terrible when it is scaled up. So the first thing you have to know is that image files can be compressed or uncompressed. 

Compression is about cutting the size of the file. Compressed image files are not needed when your system can handle large files or if you're not hurting your storage space. Otherwise, it matters. 

Nowadays, most digital signage system accepts all kinds of image formats. Photoshop or any program can be used to save the image and make them ideal for use. 

Knowing image file formats make it easier for you to create clear visuals for your presentations and digital signage advertisements. 

Different Image File Formats 

Here are the ewo most common file types for images in digital signage:

JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg)

This is the most common image format used by your PC, smartphone and every website you know. It is also the format that most digital cameras use. It's the right choice if you have to include large number of photos. This is a flattened image file known for showing detailed images while keeping the file sizes smaller.  Your images will look great on screen regardless of the minor decrease in quality. JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg) 

JPEG files are easy to compress without losing the image quality. It is compressed in a way that to make the file small, thus called "lossy" compression. 

But JPEG cannot be scaled, meaning that once you lose the image quality, you can't ever get it back.  It is not also good for line arts, logos or graphics as compression makes the image look "“bitmappy" or with jagged lines. 

PNG (.png

PNG format is popular for you can make it transparent. It is great for placing another image on top of another for you can see the background behind it. This image format allows full range of colour and better compression. It can also support fades and anti-aliasing of text. 

PNG image preserves transparency. 

This format is designed to be a lossless file, meaning that it is able to be reconstructed perfectly for internet use. For logos and images, it's nicer to see a transparent background instead of the unsightly, white bounding-box.  

This format is mostly used on websites since image quality is important. But its size can be thrice as large as JPEG files. 

PNG is great for digital menu boards or signage that needs large amount of text as it can make your signage more legible. It is best for images with texts or line arts. 

Use this format when size isn't a huge concern. But, it is not advisable for digital camera photos because of the large file size. 

If you are creating a logo, remember to save your file as .png only if you you’ll be using them at that size or smaller later on. 

Other File Formats 

TIIF (.tiff) 

TIFF file format is very flexible.  It gives better quality output from a digital camera. But the file size is more bigger compared to a JPG setting. 

One important use of TIFF file is the working storage format as you edit digital images. TIFF images are uncompressed and flexible in terms of colour and content.  Since TIFF format is lossless, there is no image degradation.

But do not use TIFF for website images. Not only does it create very large file sizes, most web browsers also won't display this format. 

GIF (.gif)

GIF image format compresses images but the compression is lossless. It means that no detail is lost in the compression. 

This format has limited colour range, so it is not suitable for printing purposes and photography. GIF is best for animations, and simple web graphics like web buttons, charts and icons.  

EPS (.eps)

EPS format used to be industry standard graphics file format for exchanging images, drawings or even layouts of complete pages. 

EPS files are scalable and editable, making it great for logo designs. But this format is already considered outdated. 

Still, this format can be used when you have to send a logo to a graphic designer. This is to save the frustration of manually tracing over the image to create a vector format. 

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