Image File Types – Illustrating Their Characteristics


Knowing which image file types to use is important to understand. Chances are you’ve used popular file types like JPEG or PNG, but there are many lesser-known image types to consider. Learn when to choose a certain image type and how they differ from each other.

Image File Types – .png

The PNG image file is a Portable Network Graphic image extension. The biggest limitation for .png is they are smaller files, so the chances of a .png successfully displaying a high-resolution photo are unlikely without serious quality loss.

Instead, use .png when compressing a bigger image into a smaller one. .png maintains the quality of the original image while saving room on a website or storage folder.

A picture of the PNG file type logo.
The PNG image file has beneficial compression options.

Image File Types – .jpg

Next up is the JPG image file. .jpg is similar to the .png because it’s capable of compressing large images into smaller ones. So what’s the main difference to consider when using .jpg instead of .png? .jpg loses quality of the image as it compresses it whereas .png doesn’t.

The advantage of a .jpg file is it can compress into very small sizes. This is helpful when putting together a library of small images where the quality of the image isn’t as important.

Image File Types –.tiff

The TIFF image file, or Tagged Image File Format are large files that maintain optimal quality throughout changes. .tiff don’t have links in them, which can be ideal for privacy reasons. Because .tiff have no unseen data included, there will never be a virus hidden inside the files.

.tiff image extensions are ideal for important things like historical records. They are very hard to change or corrupt, making them ideal for holding sensitive files.

A picture of the TIFF image document logo.
TIFF extensions are great for keeping records.

Image File Types – .nef

NEF stands for Nikon Electronic Format. It’s a result of a specific camera photograph – in this case Nikon. The .nef retains every part of an image before any kind of processing.

What makes the nef image file stand out is it stores metadata alongside the image. This makes it a good candidate for a business trying to organize assets.

Image File Types – .ai

AI is an Adobe Illustrator file extension. The most important thing to learn about the ai image file is it maintains quality of the original image through expansion and reduction. Pushing the picture to its maximum size won’t reduce the quality at all.

The ability of .ai extensions to retain image integrity make them a perfect candidate for brand logos. Due to the fact brand logos will need to change size to fit onto many different things, using .ai will keep their characteristics intact. Confidently use .ai for all logos.

A picture of the AI file extension.
AI image types are great for logo use.

Image File Types – .orf

The ORF image file is an Olympus Raw Image File. This is a rare file type as it requires a specific camera to take pictures in this format.

If you have an Olympus camera, you’ll benefit from the storage of the .orf files that are unedited and untouched up until the moment you wish to change them in any way, which usually involves switching lighting features.

Image File Types – .indd

INDD is an Adobe InDesign file extension. These generally hold layouts of things like brochures of magazines and books. Due to the sophisticated nature of project designs, .indd is a huge benefit as its main strength is holding together the original presentation of a project.

Use an .indd when you want a project’s aesthetic to remain the same throughout an entire campaign. Think of it as the perfect way to keep things in their intended visual form. .indd is a larger file type, so consider using an image hosting service to store it.

A picture of the INDD file icon.
The INDD is optimized for brochures.

Image File Types – .eps

EPS stands for Encapsulated PostScript. An .eps is becoming less common because of the advances in other software. The eps image file provides descriptions of files.

The versatility of the .eps storage is a positive, but the most likely use of these file types is with older files already saved as an .eps.

Image File Types – .cr2

The CR2 image file is the Canon Raw 2 or Canon Raw 2nd Edition. These files are a result of photographs taken with a Canon camera. These are very high quality images, so they take up plenty of space.

Use a .cr2 when you want raw unprocessed images from personal or professional photographs. Preserving the original gives the exact moment captured by the camera, which can be valuable in certain instances.

A young man and woman use a laptop to process photos from a large camera.
Raw image file types relay important bits of a picture to team members.

Image File Types – .psd

PSD image file stands for Photoshop Document, referring to Adobe’s Photoshop program. These file types store layers of images that are capable of re-editing upon opening them.

Use the .psd when you have images and layouts you prefer to evolve or re-publish in the future.

Organize and Store Your Image Files

Canto digital asset management supports all these image file types as well as videos, presentations and other rich media. It stores images in a central location for easy retrieval and sharing.

Learn how to build your media library by reading this free ebook:

A screenshot of an eBook.