Facebook Pixel What is the Best File Format to Save Your Photos In? PSD * TIFF * JPEG * GIF  * PNG

What is the Best File Format to Save Your Photos In? PSD * TIFF * JPEG * GIF  * PNG

A Guest Post by Jodi Friedman of MCP Actions:Your shortcut to better photographs.

As a photographer you shoot in Raw or Jpeg, or sometimes both. Then you edit. You may start in Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, but many photographers will end up in Photoshop doing more detailed editing of your photographs.  In time, you come up with the “perfect” edit. Now it is time to save.

What do you do? Do you save as a PSD, Tiff, Jpeg, Gif, Png or something else?

This article is not meant to address how you save Raw files to formats like DNG (Digital Negatives). It is meant to focus on how you save to share photos on the web and for print.

Here are a few of the most common formats and why you may or may not want to use them:

PSD

  • You will want to save as a Photoshop PSD when you have many layers that you want to preserve.
  • Saving this way will retain adjustment layers, your masks, shapes, clipping paths, layer styles, blending modes.
  • Useful if you need to maintain transparency.
  • PSDs often are large in size, especially if you edit with many layers.
  • Only those with Photoshop, Adobe products or certain other graphics programs will be able to view them.
  • Unless you are printing from an Adobe application like Photoshop, or possibly another graphics program, you will need to save in a different format for printing, such as at a professional lab.
  • You cannot display on the web in this format.

TIFF

  • This targeted file format is the highest quality and is excellent for print as there is no loss in quality.
  • Retains information in layers, depending how you save it.
  • The downsides are the extremely large file size and you cannot display on the web in this format.
  • Lossless format so you will retain information from your images as you re-open and re-save.

JPEG

  • The Joint Photographic Experts Group format is the most common type. It is viewable by all and can be used for print and the web.
  • When saving as a jpg, you decide what quality you desire (In Photoshop for example a level 1 is the lowest quality or a 12 which is the highest quality)
  • The biggest downsize is that the jpeg format is lossy.  Each time you open and save, the image compresses and you lose a small amount of information.
  • Another downside is that layers are flattened upon saving so you lose the ability to go back to past edits to tweak.

PNG

  • The Portable Network Graphics format also creates smaller file size but without the quality loss of a GIF.
  • Useful if you need to maintain transparency.
  • Often used for graphics instead of GIF.
  • Lossless format so you will retain information from your images as you re-open and re-save.
  • You can share these files on the web.

GIF

  • The Graphics Interchange Format is good for web graphics with animation but NOT recommended for photos.
  • The file size is very small so these files load fast on the web.
  • The downsides are limited colors and does not handle photographs well.
  • Lossless format so you will retain information from your images as you re-open and re-save.

Hopefully after reading this you have a better idea on which suits your style. There is no right or wrong per say, though many will feel strongly about how they manage their workflow.

I personally simplify my workflow. While there is a compression and loss of information editing jpeg images, the difference is so minor unless you are re-opening dozens of times. For that reason, I save my images as PSD if I know I will need to come back to it to alter adjustment layers, masks, or layer opacity. Once I am done editing, I save my images as JPEGs. If I am working on something for my website that needs transparency, I use the PNG format.

So now it’s your turn. Tell us which file formats you chose to save in and why? Add your comments below, and also vote in the poll shown here.

What File Format Do You Save Your Photos In?

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Note: this post has been slightly updated from it’s original version.

About the Author: Jodi Friedman, owner of MCP Actions, offers original Photoshop Actions and Workshops to customers internationally, which enable photographers, at the click of a button, to enhance and enrich their photos in a fast and efficient way.

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