Just because you can convert one graphics file type into another doesn't mean you should do it. Modern image editors and conversion programs make it easy for people to open one type of image and save it as something different. Sometimes, there are advantages to converting an image, and at other times, disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Learn how different image file types work, and you can make the right decision when it's time to choose a format for your image files.
Smaller Is Sometimes Better
The Web as you know it might not exist if people could not convert images into different types of formats. Bitmap images, for instance, are often huge and consume several megabytes of space. Because a website owner can convert bitmaps into smaller formats, people with slow Internet connections can view them without waiting forever. Online email services also limit the sizes of attachments you can send. By converting a large image into a smaller one, you can share pictures with others via email.
Image Quality vs. Image Size
There's an unfortunate digital trade-off when it comes to working with computer graphics. When you increase an image's quality, its size usually increases as well. People save pictures as bitmaps when they want high-quality graphics. When you'd rather produce good-quality graphics that don't consume as much disk space, choose an alternate format, such as JPEG. Many of the images you see on the Web are compressed JPEGs that look good and download quickly.
Image Class 101
Some people work with images every day and never understand how to use them effectively. GIF files produce the lowest quality images, but people still use them. They're good for displaying line art, cartoons and pictures that aren't photos. JPEGs, on the other hand, produce larger images but they're good for displaying photos and scenes that have intricate detail. You'll also find PNG image files on Web pages. Similar to GIFs, PNGs are useful for presenting line art and logos. Unlike GIFs, PNGS can also display photographs well. However, you may want to use a JPEG if you want to create smaller files.
Tweak Your JPEGS to Perfection
Photoshop and other programs give you the option to choose a JPEG-quality setting. If you select a higher setting value, you’ll create a higher quality image that takes up more hard drive space than an image you’d save at a lower quality setting. When shopping for a free or commercial image editor, verify that it has JPEG quality settings.
Extra Tips for Managing Digital Images
Surf the Web for a few seconds and you may encounter pictures that move. Because animated GIF files are GIFs that consist of multiple image frames, software programs cannot convert an animated GIF into a single GIF image. You can, however find applications that convert a GIF’s frames into multiple pictures. After you download a picture, ensure that you know its format before you save it. For instance, if you download a BMP, do not save it as a JPEG if you want the image to retain its high quality. Don’t convert a photograph into a GIF either if you don’t want to produce an extremely low quality picture; GIFs can display only 256 colors.
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