Understanding digital photo file formats
No matter what you like to do with your digital photos, you need to choose the right format to edit, print, and share them.
Support & Drivers
If you look at the file name of any of your digital photos, you'll notice something like ".jpg" at the end. That indicates the format in which your file has been saved. Each file format has a purpose. Learn about the preferred formats for saving and working with your photo files—whether you want to edit them, post them online, share them via e-mail, or print them.
What kinds of files does my digital camera create?
JPEG has become the standard file format for digital cameras because of its small size.
Most consumer point-and-shoot cameras only have one format option and that is JPEG (denoted with the .jpg file extension). You usually have the choice of a low, medium, or high-quality JPEG.
JPEG has become the standard for smaller cameras because it has the highest compression. In other words, it squeezes the information from your photo into a smaller file size than other formats, which allows you to take more photos.
Understanding file types: RAW, TIFF, JPEG, GIF
If you are editing your photos using a photo software program, you have many options when it comes time to save your pictures. You’ll also run into the following file formats when you are scanning and saving photos, or archiving and organizing them with photo-management software. Here is a handy guide to understanding available file formats and how you use them.
|What you use it for||Professional-
grade cameras offer a couple more compression formats, like RAW. The RAW file format is best for archiving because it is the purest unaltered format available (retains the most digital information).
|The TIFF file format is ideal for editing and making large prints because it still retains a large amount of image information (almost as much as RAW).||For most printing jobs and sharing through e-mail and over the Internet, JPEG is the perfect file format.||Commonly used for Web graphics with a limited color range rather than photographs.|
|Benefits||No compression has been applied. Every bit of information collected from a camera’s sensor has been preserved.||
TIFF supports layered files, which allows you to edit images in software programs like Photoshop.
TIFFs retain color information while being much smaller than RAW. TIFF files can be saved with very little compression making it ideal for printing large sized high-resolution images.
JPEG has the highest compression of the three and therefore offers the smallest file size.
It is also the most common file format in use. Just about every photo-editing or photo-organization program supports it.
|Because they use fewer colors, GIF file sizes are very small, which makes them perfect for online use.|
RAW image files can be very large, easily upwards of 40 to 50MB per photo with a high-megapixel camera.
Professional photographers are often the only ones with enough space to dedicate to such oversized files.
Once a RAW image has been manipulated, a copy has to be saved in another form, such as a TIFF or JPEG.
Though they are smaller than RAW files, TIFF files are not small. Depending on the resolution of your camera, you could easily end up with files in the 5 to 15MB range.
TIFFs are not widely supported by Web browsers, which makes them a poor choice for online use.
|Unlike RAW and TIFF formats, a JPEG will degrade each time you save it. This is known as a “lossy” type of compression. That’s why it’s important to save a high-quality original and then edit copies of that file.||GIF files don’t support as many colors as other types of file formats.|
|Print directly from your camera’s memory card with an HP printer?||No. RAW files are very large and would need to be resized and saved as a JPEG or TIFF file to edit or print directly from your HP Photosmart printer or All-in-One.||Yes. You can edit and print TIFF files directly from your HP Photosmart printer or All-in-One—no PC needed. Though keep in mind that TIFF files are more suited to editing with photo software on a PC.||Yes. This common photo file format is supported on all HP Photosmart printers and All-in-Ones.||No. The GIF format is not supported by HP Photosmart photo printers and All-in-Ones. It is not a good format for photo files.|
|Learn more||Learn more about scanning photos for making enlargements.||
Get tips for resizing photos to share via e-mail and online.
Find out about all the ways you can print a photo.
Find the right printer
For high-quality prints of your digital photos, try HP e-All-in-Ones, like the ones below. These versatile, wireless e-All-in-Ones also offer the mobile printing technology HP ePrint—now you can print from your smartphone or tablet from virtually anywhere!1,2
- Print, scan, copy
- 2" mono touchscreen
- ISO print speed up to 8 pages per minute (ppm) black, 7.5 ppm color3
- Print, scan, copy
- 3.5" color touchscreen
- ISO print speed up to 12 ppm black, 8.5 ppm color4
- Automatic photo tray holds up to 20 pages
- Print, scan, copy, fax
- 4.3" color touchscreen
- ISO print speed up to 14 ppm black, 10 ppm color4
- Automatic photo tray holds up to 20 pages
- Lab-quality photos from 5 individual inks
- 25-sheet automatic document feeder
Visit the HP printer buying guides to see the entire selection of HP printers and e-All-in-Ones.
- 1Wireless performance is dependent upon physical environment and distance from access point.
- 2Requires an Internet connection to HP web-enabled printer and HP ePrint account registration (for a list of eligible printers, supported documents and image types and other HP ePrint details, see www.hp.com/go/eprintcenter). Mobile devices require Internet connection and email capability. May require wireless access point. Separately purchased data plans or usage fees may apply. Print times and connection speeds may vary.
- 3After first page or after first set of ISO test pages. For more information, see hp.com/go/printerclaims.
- 4Measured using ISO/IEC 24734, excludes first set of test documents. For more information see hp.com/go/printerclaims. Exact speed varies depending on the system configuration, software application, driver, and document complexity.