GIF vs JPEG vs PNG – Differences you Should Know

By Tapas Pal Updated

You all are aware of various formats in which images are saved. Now let us discuss some of them and differences between them.

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format):

  • It is short for Graphics Interchange Format.
  • It is a lossless compression and it supports only 256 colors.
  • It is better than JPG for images with only a few distinct colors, such as black and white images, small text that is only a few pixels
  • Images can be put together for animated images with an animated editor.
  • GIF supports transparency where the background color can be set as transparent so that color on the underlying web page can be visible.
  • The Compression algorithm used in GIF format is owned by Unisys.

JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group):

  • It is short for Joint Photographic Expert Group.
  • It is the image file format supported on the web.
  • It is lossy compression technique which compresses color and grayscale images and supports 16 million colors.
  • The users have to compromise on either the size of file or quality of an image.
  • It doesn’t work well in line drawings, simple graphics as it is a lossy technique and loses the sharpness of the image.

PNG(Portable Network Graphics):

  • It is short for Portable Network Graphics.
  • It is the patent-free answer to GIF format and is also an improvement in GIF technique.
  • An image in PNG lossless file is 15-25% more compressed than that of GIF image.
  • It is built on the idea of transparency in GIF images and allows control of the degree of transparency.
  • It doesn’t support animation as GIF does.
  • Restoring, saving and re-saving PNG image will not degrade the quality.

These were some basic difference between GIF, JPG, and PNG.

Now let us discuss differences between the three briefly on topics including Compression, Transparency, and Animation.


For the images to be manageable with various applications, it should be compressed to reduce the size of the image. Now let us discuss the difference between compression with JPEG, GIF, and PNG files.


It is good to be used when you are sending a photo via phone or an email as in these two situations not much large files are sent. Most JPEG looks fine from a distance under normal compression but when images are zoomed, it loses its quality.


It forces all the color of an image into 256 color palette to reduce the size of an image. These color limitation often leads to coloring issues like white spots or blotches of color. Any color outside 256 colors is changed to the color closest to it.


It is lossless format so the compression doesn’t affect the quality of an image. Unlike JPG’s, PNG images look as sharp as the original image. PNG files which have high resolution are larger than JPEG so are difficult to share via the web or with friends and family.


Now let us discuss the difference between GIF, JPEG, and PNG on the basis of transparency.


It assigns one of the 256 colors to be transparent. Adding transparency removes color from the limited palette and it either becomes transparent or opaque. Round edges will feature a white backing.


It supports the best capacity of transparency. PNG’s define transparency in 2 ways- one is like GIF, assigning one color as transparent and other is to set an alpha channel. The advantage of PNG is that it doesn’t remove color from the palette. The Alpha channel is a smoother way as it allows us to select a different level of transparency in the different regions. The image will set naturally to what is in the background.


JPEG don’t support transparency even though it has unlimited palette because they blend pixels together to reduce the size of an image.


Let us see the difference between JPEG, GIF, PNG on the basis of Animation.


It doesn’t support animation but Motion JPEG exists which
supports both animation and sound. It is not widely used on the
web, it is used for storing videos on low-level devices like cameras.


There was a request for animated protocol but no support was received from various browsers. The format has uses like medical aging and many other but it is not used on the web.


Almost all animated images on the web are GIF images. These images are popular because of their efficient file size and simple process of creation. Many more features are in existence like animation speed, the number of times the animation repeats.

It was all about how JPEG, PNG, GIF differs. It has various limitations and advantages and it is interesting to know how and where it is used. From the above lesson we came to know that GIF is used when we want to use animation. JPEG creates smaller files. PNG files are used for creating lossless images where minimum file size is not of any importance. It is important to know about each file type so as to decide which file type is suitable where.