JPG vs PNG – Which Image Format Offers Better Quality?

JPG vs PNG - Which Image Format Offers Better Quality?

JPG vs PNG – Which Image Format Offers Better Quality?

When choosing photos for your site, it is not only what is in the photos that matters. In fact, choosing the right image format can be equally as important. So let’s talk about JPG vs PNG, which to choose, and why.

If you go for a wrong format, you might end up with a slower website, higher bounce rates, and lower conversion rates – and that is not what you want, especially when it can be easily avoided. 

The Difference between PNG and JPG

Let’s start with the basic definitions.

PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics, with so-called “lossless” compression. That means that the image quality was the same before and after the compression.

JPEG or JPG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, with so-called “lossy” compression.

As you might have guessed, that is the biggest difference between the two. JPEG files’ quality is significantly lower than that of the PNG files.

However, the lower quality isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

What is JPG?

Full Form: Joint Photographic Experts Group

JPEG is a commonly used method of lossy compression for digital images, particularly for those images produced by digital photography.

The degree of compression can be adjusted, allowing a selectable trade-off between storage size and image quality.

JPEG typically achieves 10:1 compression with little perceptible loss in image quality.

Since its introduction in 1992, JPEG has been the most widely used image compression standard in the world, and the most widely used digital image format, with several billion JPEG images produced every day as of 2015.

What is PNG?

Full Form: Portable Network Graphics

Portable Network Graphics (PNG, officially pronounced PING, more commonly pronounced is a raster-graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. PNG was developed as an improved, non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF).

PNG supports palette-based images (with palettes of 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA colors), grayscale images (with or without alpha channel for transparency), and full-color non-palette-based RGB or RGBA images.

The PNG working group designed the format for transferring images on the Internet, not for professional-quality print graphics; therefore non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK are not supported.

A PNG file contains a single image in an extensible structure of chunks, encoding the basic pixels and other information such as textual comments and integrity checks documented in RFC 2083.

JPG vs PNG – the Basic Rule

Since both JPG and PNG format have their pros and cons, you should get the most out of both of them and play to their strengths.

In practice, that means that you should use .jpeg for photographs, and .png for graphics and screenshots.

Does It Really Matter?

When talking JPG vs PNG and comparing the two side by side, the truth is that you won’t be able to see much of a difference in the photos.

So if PNG pictures don’t look that much better JPGs, why not always use JPG format and make things easier for yourself?

Unfortunately, it’s not all that simple and the reason for that is image compression.

You want the highest quality image format but you also want to have a responsive website so you need to really take the difference between jpeg and png into the consideration and particularly the difference in image compression.

Think about it like this: Image compression means reducing the image size without sacrificing the quality for the sake of the size. Generally, stronger compression equals smaller file size which equals worse image quality.

So if you want a good compression, you need to find the right balance between the quality and the size of your file.

When you look at the image saved in your computer, you see the best version of it because the file has not been compressed. However, if that same image is on the website, it needs to be downloaded in order for you to see it.

Logically, that means that the larger the image – the longer the loading time.

Pictures Containing Text

From time to time, you will want to use pictures containing text and choosing jpeg or png really matters here. PNGs are usually a better choice for pics of this type, as well as for graphics with fine details.

An important difference between jpg and png is that with JPGs, the contours of the letters, as well as the fine lines from graphics, usually appear less sharp.

Regular Pictures

And while the graphics and the images with letters are usually better-looking in the .png file, with the regular photos, JPG is a better choice for the web because if the smaller size.

If you decide to use PNGs only, they will slow your website which can lead to frustrated users.

Resizing Images

Apart from compression, you could also consider resizing the images you want to use for your web design. The good news is that resizing isn’t a complicated process and there are two ways to do it right:

1 – Use some of the resize tools that will allow you to manually shift the edges of the image. If you want to maintain the original height-width ratio, make sure to grab a corner of the image instead of one of the sides, and it will allow you to resize your image proportionally.

2 – If you don’t want to resize the image by manually adjusting it, or if you need an image of a specific size, you can use some of the advanced graphics programs that will allow you to specify the image size and then adjust time image accordingly.

However, sometimes the images get a bit out of focus after being resized so consider using some of the sharpening tools before exporting it as png or jpg.

Is PNG better quality than JPEG?

Unlike JPEG, which relies on DCT compression. PNG uses LZW compression- the same as used by GIF and TIFF formats.

The biggest advantage of PNG over JPEG is that the compression is lossless, meaning there is no loss in quality each time it is opened and saved again. PNG also handles detailed, high-contrast images well.

PNG vs JPG When You’re Not Sure

By now, we know that JPGs are better for photographs, while .png images work better for graphs and pics with text. But what is better for the images that are somewhere in between?

 Screenshots are a good example of that because they often contain photographs as well as text and sharp lines.

However, when it comes to JPG vs PNG when talking about screenshots, it is almost always better to use PNG format to retain the sharpness and the readability of the text in the picture.

At the end of the day, if you are still not sure which format you should go with, you could always save the picture in both of them and then compare them and decide which one you think fits your needs best.

What About Webp & Other Image Formats?

Apart from PNG and JPEG, there are other image formats such as GIF, BMP, and TIFF. Most of these are simply worse than JPEG or PNG for use on the web, so they’re not worth discussing in more detail (at least not within the scope of this article).

An image format to consider is webp. This is an image format created specifically for the web and for small files. Webp files are typically smaller than JPEG or PNG files, but maintain high image quality. Webp is compatible with web browsers, but it is not yet very common in image editing programs.

Which is clearer JPEG or PNG?

In this case, you should choose image quality over file size: the PNG will look crisper and clearer than a JPEG of equal file size. And it will look much crisper and clearer than a JPEG of smaller file size. Here’s a side by side comparison: compressed JPEG vs. compressed PNG with similar file sizes.

The Disadvantages of the PNG Format

1. Bigger File Size: A key drawback of PNG is that it compresses digital images at a larger file size. On the other hand, the JPEG standard can achieve a smaller file size than a PNG for a relatively similar image quality and resolution.

2. Not Ideal for Printing: Note that this format was designed solely for distributing digital images online. Hence, another disadvantage of PNG is that it is not ideal for professional-quality print graphics because it does not support non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK.

3. Other Shortcomings: The PNG format does not support embedding EXIF meta data used by most digital cameras. In addition, unlike the GIF format, it does not natively support animation although there are unofficial extensions available.

Can you edit JPG images without quality loss?

No, editing and repeatedly saving JPG files will cause progressive quality loss due to the lossy compression. JPG compression discards image data that cannot be recovered when edited. PNG allows for lossless editing – images can be opened, edited and resaved while retaining all original pixel information.

Must Read:

Why is jpg bad?

Some quality is compromised when an image is converted to a JPG. The reason is because the compression is lossy, which means that certain unnecessary information is permanently deleted. A JPG does, however, allow you to create smaller file size than you could with a PNG.

Does PNG lose quality?

PNG is a lossless compression format: that means it compresses images without losing any quality. But it’s not economical to encode most images in a lossless format such as PNG, when the loss of quality using JPG is barely perceptible to the human eye and a JPG might only take up a quarter of the space.


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