Photo files explained

Photo Files explained

At O2, we work with digital photo files every day. There are lots of photo file types to choose from, and it’s not always clear which one to choose. Here are a few of the more common photo files explained.


JPEG: This is perhaps the most common photo file format. A Joint Photographic Experts Group, or JPEG file, is the standard method of “compressing” an image file. This means the pixel variations in the file are “compressed” on a minute level so that the file will take up less memory space. Because they can be compressed, JPEGs are a good option when memory space is at a premium, but JPEG files tend to be a slightly lower quality as well.

PSD: This is the standard file format for a Photoshop image (Photoshop is a fancy image editing program we designers often use). PSD files have an advantage when it comes to image design and editing – a PSD file can be easily edited, layered, colored, filtered, and otherwise manipulated for design work. If you anticipate a lot of editing work to be done on your photo files, PSD is a good choice.

TIFF: A Tagged Image File Format, or TIFF, is an uncompressed high-quality file format. TIFF images maintain the most detail when saving an image, though they also take up the most memory space. TIFF files are good if you need the highest-quality images possible, though they can be difficult if your camera has a small and/or slow memory card.

RAW: This format is used with DSLR cameras. (DSLR stands for Digital Selective Resonance Imaging, which is a fancy way of saying a professional-quality camera). RAW files capture the “raw” image with no digital processing or enhancements. RAW files are arguably the highest-quality file format, though they also take up the most memory space because of it.

There are many other files we could have mentioned, but these are the ones we probably encounter the most. So which files do we prefer? Actually, we’re accustomed to working with any and all file formats. As a rule of thumb, however, we find that JPEG files are easiest to work with for digital media (e.g. designing a website or online ad), and higher quality TIFF files work best for print media.

If you have any other questions about anything we mentioned in this week’s post, from file types to print media, give us a holler! You can call us at 970-726-8021 or email us at [email protected].

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