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How to choose the right file format for your photos?

October 13th, 2010 No Comments

When saving your picture it can be hard to know which format to choose. There are so many formats to save in, but which one is best for you? Do you want quality or a small file size? We are going to cover some of the most common file types and the reasons behind choosing them.

It seems a simple decision – but making sure you choose the right combination of file formats will help produce the best quality image for the best quality canvas print.

What are Lossy and Lossless formats?

There are two categories all image file formats fall into – Lossy and Lossless. There are reasons to save in both these formats. To understand the best one for your task you should first understand what each format means.

A Lossy Format is one which loses quality and data by being resized and saved repeatedly. The main Lossy file type is JPEG. Every time you press save with an image in this format – you are reducing the quality of the final image.

Lossless is a format in which the quality is retained when saving at any size. Examples of Lossless file types are PNG, TIFF.

How do I know which one to choose?

Lossless files are much larger in file size than lossless, but this is at the pay off of retaining the original quality of the image, which makes it perfect for archiving and editing. If possible, you should keep it in this format for as long as possible – this will allow you to make many edits of your image without sacrificing quality.

The JPEG (or other lossy formats) can cause problems if you are working extensively with an image. As well as a loss of quality, repetitive saving can also cause small jpeg artefacts or distortions on your image.

However due to the high compression and the low file sizes of lossy formats like JPEG lossy are the best way to send your image to us once you have completed any changes you would like to make.

Common formats


Raw format is the format your camera processes its images in. Using most modern digital cameras you won’t really encounter this format, it is tends to be automatically converted into a more familiar format like JPEG after the picture is taken. The RAW format contains more data about the image such as white balance, however it cannot be processed by computer until it is converted into a readable format like JPEG.


TIF is another style of bitmap image and is a lossless format. TIFs are of a much higher quality than formats such as JPEGS. The downside to the higher quality is that the file will be lot larger than its JPEG counterpart. It is best to work from a TIF if you are editing your image.


JPEG is the most common format used on the internet to display images. This is due to the fact it compresses the image to a very small file size while retaining a lot of the original quality, at least to the human eye. However, repeated working from a JPEG will degrade the image resulting in blurring or blocky parts in the image. It is best to save to a JPEG format when you are sure about your image so as to maintain the highest quality overall.

Final Thought.

Saving in a Lossy format is great for most purposes such as sending images on the internet, due to their small file size. But when saving files for print it is best to only save as a JPEG once you are sure the image is as you want it, so the quality is maintained and you can do the most justice to your beautiful pictures.

This also makes our job easier when we are getting ready to produce your canvas print.

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