Understanding file formats and knowing the correct one to use will save you a great deal of time in the future. Some file formats should only be used for web images, where others are ideal to get the perfect print.

Here is a list of the most popular ones and the file formats that you should consider.

JPEG: stands for Joint Photography Expert Group, and is a file format based on a data-compression system that reduces file size to as little as ten percent of the original size without any great loss to the image quality. This is an ideal format for web use.

When saving your image as a jpeg you can control the quality standard by selecting different settings. If the image is needed for large reproduction work a large setting of 9 or 10 should be selected. If the image is for web use only use a setting of 3 or 4.

GIF: stands for Graphic Interchange Format. GIF is also compression format and is special designed for use over the web. GIF consists of a standard set of 216 colours. This format is suitable for photography because of the loss to image quality.

TIFF: stands for Tag Image File Format and is the best choice for images that are going to be reproduced as prints. A TIFF image can be compressed, but takes forever when trying to open.

PNG: stands for Portable Network Graphics and is mainly used for web images. Experts say that this will become the standard for web images - replacing GIF as the standard.

Your digital photo software may support other formats, such as Photoshop, but it’s best to use the standard ones. Photoshop is becoming very popular and is a great tool for editing digital images. Most photography companies that are looking to digital images won’t accept a format that is not widely used and looses image quality.

Whenever you need to save a digital image, it’s best to use a format where you can hold as much quality as possible. TIFF is the best choice for images that are going to be use in print.

My choice is JPEG for web images and TIFF for large reproductions. If you are unsure of the format to use - use TIFF. Images can be reformatted to a different file format at any time.

TJ Tierney is an award winning Irish Landscape photographer. For more tips you can visit his photography site. To view his images visit his on-line gallery of flower pictures or see his travel site.

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