PNG vs. JPEG – What’s the distinction between these two picture codecs?

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For predominantly visual beings, images like people are an irreplaceable means of communication, especially online.

If you are interested in photography and image manipulation, or if you are creating or owning a website, there is a need to understand the various image formats and how they can be used.

Below, we’ll show you the differences between PNG and JPEG formats and take a look at how they are used.

A brief overview

While PNG and JPEG formats are similar in many ways, including the decade in which they were created, they have differences that can be very important depending on how they are used. You can use the lists below to compare their properties, some of which are covered in more detail later in this article.


  • Mainly used for line drawings, pictures with text, and transparent pictures
  • Raster graphics (bitmap)
  • Lossless compression
  • Supports color management
  • Does not support animation or layers
  • Supports transparency


  • Mainly used for photos and colorful pictures
  • Raster graphics (bitmap)
  • Lossy Compression
  • Supports color management
  • Does not support animation or layers
  • Does not support transparency

What are raster graphics?

Raster images, also called bitmaps, are made up of a grid of different colored pixels that you can see when you zoom in on an image. It appears jagged and you will notice the individual pixels. This is in contrast to vector graphics, which instead of a bitmap use points that are connected by lines or curves, also known as vector paths.

Raster images are the general standard for internet use because they are primarily used for photos, graphics, and complex graphics. The reason they are used for these particular types of images is that raster images display more nuanced colors and gradations while the shapes are less defined.

Lossless versus loss

Although the term “lossy” sounds less favorable than “lossless”, both methods of image compression have their advantages and can be widely used in a variety of circumstances.

Lossy compression reduces image quality along with file size. The more the image is compressed, the more quality is lost.

This might not sound great at first, but it will allow you to strike a good balance when uploading an image.

For illustrations that accompany text or photos posted on a social network, you can still get decent quality and not lose time uploading or worry if the file is too big for a website. If you own a website, large images can cause it to load more slowly and increase your bounce rate. Hence, lossy compression is the best choice.

While any compression results in some loss of quality, lossless compression creates files that are often much larger than the lossy ones – the cost of maintaining most of the quality.

Although PNG images are compressed using the DEFLATE file format, which allows for greater compression, a large amount of computing power would be required to bring the lossless image to its minimum size. Clearly, this wouldn’t produce the quality or image size that could rival a lossy JPEG.

Lossless images are mostly used to avoid deviations from the original data. However, this can also be useful when you need a smaller, good quality image.

Question of transparency

The main advantage of the PNG format over JPEG is that it supports transparency. This is very convenient when you don’t want a white box or any other color around the picture. The transparent background makes PNG a great choice for logos and website graphics as it can be overlaid on the image exactly how you want it to be.

What is jpeg

The JPEG image format was launched in 1992. The Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) created and published it and took responsibility for compliance with image coding standards. As an image format, it is the most popular and probably the most widely used format, especially when it comes to photos.

It should be noted that JPEG is the same as JPG – the difference in name comes from the limitation of early versions of Windows on the number of characters in file extensions.

What is PNG?

The PNG format, short for Portable Network Graphics, was invented in 1995 and released the next year to replace GIF. There were two reasons for this.

First, the process used for GIF compression was patented. On the other hand, the algorithm used by the DEFLATE file system was created by the same person who developed the ZIP file format, and the patent on it has since expired.

The second reason for replacing GIF was the outdated limit of 256 colors, which was no longer suitable for the more advanced monitors in the mid-1990s.

PNG images were created for use on the internet and are in their natural habitat online.

Make an informed choice

It is very important to understand exactly what the popular image formats have to offer and how to use them in the way that best suits them to get exactly what you want. This applies to web design, photo editing, e-books and much more.

Now that you’ve learned about PNG and JPEG formats, as well as some of their inner workings, I’m sure you can put that knowledge to good use!

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