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You Don't Know the Difference between JPG and GIF

Compare with JPG and GIF

By Lam Chow | Jul 04,2019 9:48 am

In today’s digital world, there’s a burgeoning need for sharing and downloading of image files, and there are only few image formats supported by the web, these include GIF, JPG, and PNG. These digital image formats show the different methods to the question of delivering online images with minimum file size and download time. Essentially, GIF is superb for most computer created images which have determined color palettes. However, JPG is ideal for photography as it renders quality images with similar file size as compared to GIF. For images that have line art, text, and colors, GIF is ideal for them. Yet, GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) does poorly with image compression especially images that display color gradations.

Often on rare cases will the user find GIFs used for large images on web pages due to the advantage of lossless not being visible to all. JPG is best used for natural images photography and scanned photographs. JPG is categorized as lossy compression to which the images are not gotten back all pixel like the original image when compressed. Naturally, there are two levels of JPG (Joint Photographic Group) compression, these include lower quality which entails having great compression with loss of detail and higher quality which includes poor compression to little loss of detail.

Part 1: JPG vs. GIF

i. The innovative transformation of the old image technology constantly experiences new innovative milestones on a daily, still the file format keeps building up and the most common still remains JPG, PNG, and GIF. The answer to this question is basically the meeting the image needs of average users, broadband speeds, and modern browsers compatibility. Below are ways you will identify the different features of JPG vs. GIF.

ii. Category (Lossy or Lossless): GIF is under the lossless category. Its conversion into an 8-bit color alters images hence blending optically or diffuse colors similar to halftone dots with the use of using dither filters. This can change the image to be worse and in some cases be creatively used to make an interesting effect. Additionally, the lossless format, GIF is best to save web images which include tight lines on geometric shapes and typography though they are for SVG or native format Adobe illustrator’s vector graphic files. Whereas JPG is categorized under lossy which addresses the issue of quality degradation as a result of its technological advancement. Likewise, the lossy nature of JPG makes it not to be a suitable way to store art files. Typically, the appearance of JPG image changes when the jpg setting is compressed when it comes to the highest quality. Hence making JPG not to be the best medium for crisp lines, typography with sharp edges or typography, as it will blur out with anti-aliasing.

iii. Palette: As regards color palette for jpg vs. gif, JPG has 16 million colors. GIF has a maximum palette of 2-256 colors and it undergoes color range loss in the course of the conversion process of GIF making it unsuitable for color photos.

iv. iv. Use: GIF is best used for simple animation works such as small icons, graphics with flat color, and also with low pixel-pixel variations such as flags and logos. While JPG is ideal for still images photography, and images with complex colors and dynamics.

JPG vs. GIF Comparison Table

Category Lossless Lossy
Transparency YES NO
Translucency NO NO
Compressed YES YES
Color Palette Contains about 2-256 colors having a preset box of ‘crayons’ which is quite impossible to mix colors to form a new one. Has millions of colors, allows mixing of colors to have different color variation.
Uses Small icons; Simple animation; Pixel variation graphics Images with complex dynamics and colors; Still image photography; Continuous tone images

Part 2: Extension Knowledge

a. What are JPG and GIF?

JPG which is a short form of Joint Photographic Group is one of the many online or digital image format supported on the web. Fundamentally, JPG is a lossy compression procedure designed to compress grayscale and color continuous-tone images. Nevertheless, the information cast-off in the process of compression is information that cannot be seen by the ordinary human eye. JPG has millions of color palette (approx. 16 million colors) and used for complex graphics and photography. Typically, when using jpg user either have to compromise on the size of the file or quality of the image. JPG is absolutely not ideal for line drawings, simple graphics, or typography because there is not a lot of images that can be discarded out during the lossy process, that is why there is the loss of sharpness and clarity in the image.

GIF i.e. Graphics Interchange Format is also another web supported the graphics format. In clear difference to JPG, the GIF format is categorized to have lossless compression technique and only have a maximum of 2-256 colors. When considering images with distinctive colors e.g. black and white images, line drawings, and small text, GIF is better than JPG as it is high in only a few pixels. User can also combine and create interesting animated images of GIF images using the animation editor. GIF supports transparency which means permitting the background color to show through an underlying web image.

b. When to Use JPG and GIF?

In the case of uses, for large areas where the total number of colors is a bit smaller than 256, user can make use of GIF. GIF is useful to make a faultless copy of images at high compression so long as the image contains large areas of uniform colors which are not more than 256 colors. While JPG can be used for still images photography where the degradation of JPG images can be managed by giving user liberty to choose or compromise on file size and quality of the image. Consequently, GIF images can be smaller as compared to JPG files, nonetheless at most normal sizes, JPG compression will create smaller images. Most times, GIFs are obsolete but useful only to make rough transparencies and funny animated dancing babies. In general, users can use GIFs for illustrations and flat color images, and make use of JPG photography and for images with continuous color tones.


JPG and GIF are two commonly used digital image formats used on the web. JPG which is short for Joint Photographic Group is a lossy web image format where the issue of color degradation is addressed as a result of advancement in technology. GIF which is short for Graphics Interchange Format is categorized under lossless web image format in which it is not up to par with image compression especially images that displays color gradations. In terms of color palettes, JPG have millions of palettes which is approximated to be about 16 million and also permits color mix to give new color variations. GIF have a fixed maximum palette of 256 colors. For usage, JPG is ideal for still photography and any image with complex dynamics, however in cases of larger files, user have to compromise on file size or quality of image. While GIF is great for simple animations e.g. dancing babies, pixel to pixel generation, and small icons.

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