What Format is the Most Advantageous for Saving Photos?

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Professional photographers often argue about the best format to save the captured images.

Many people emphasize such formats as JPEG and Raw in the first place. However, do not forget that there are many other formats worthy of attention and with different advantages!

Today we will briefly go over the advantages and disadvantages of unusual file formats and tell you what they can be used for. If you want to know more about the HEIC picture format, read about it on Skylum's blog.

Main file formats

In this section we will describe the main file formats,



This format is the most common. It is viewable by all programs and can be printed and posted on the Internet.

  • By saving in JPG, you determine the desired quality (in Photoshop, for example, level 1 is the lowest quality, and 12 is the highest).
  • The biggest drawback is that the JPEG format is lost. Every time you open and save a picture, you compress it and lose a small amount of information.
  • Another disadvantage is that after you save it, the layers are merged, so you lose the ability to roll back the last changes.


This target file format is the best in quality and is great for printing because there is no loss in quality.

  • It saves information in layers depending on how you save the file.
  • This format is so large in size that you won't be able to display it online.
  • In lossless format, you get the information by reopening and re-saving.


This format allows you to create smaller files with no loss of quality. It is necessary if you want to control transparency.

  • Often used for graphics together with GIFs.
  • In lossless format, you get information by reopening and re-saving.
  • Files can be published online.



You need to save files in Photoshop PSD if you use many layers that you want to save. This format lets you store layer settings, masks, styles, modes, and more.

  • It is necessary if you want to manage transparency.
  • PSD files are usually quite big in size, especially if you have edited many layers.
  • Such files can be viewed only in Photoshop, Adobe products, and some other graphic editors.
  • If you don't print the file using Adobe applications such as Photoshop or other graphics programs, you need to save it in a different format or you won't be able to display it online.

Optimizing photo-saving settings

Compressing images is one way to speed up site loading. Making images “lighter” is possible both by reducing their physical size in pixels and by optimizing saving parameters.

On “wide” channels, the size of images on the site does not affect the loading speed of the site very much, but for users viewing the site via mobile Internet (EDGE or 3G), large images can be a problem. On visited sites can also be difficult to load the server channel – non-optimized images can significantly affect the amount of traffic (this is a problem if it is paid) or simply “clog” the channel.

There are only two basic ways to reduce the “weight” of images – reducing the size in pixels and selecting save options.

First, the choice of format is important. There are two commonly used formats – JPEG and PNG. In simple words, JPEG is more suitable for photos, and PNG for logos, icons, drawings, and schemes. In the case of logos, icons, drawings, and charts, it is also worth looking at SVG, a vector image format for websites.

Secondly, saving parameters are important. For example, when saving in JPG, it is possible to specify the level of quality. As a rule, the difference between the highest quality (100%) and just high (90-95%) is visually indistinguishable, but the file size is very significantly affected. The same applies to other settings for saving images in the graphics editor (color palette size in PNG8 and GIF, progressive JPEG, etc.).

Third, image metadata is often unnecessary. Image files often contain redundant information (e.g., meta-information about where the photo was taken, what camera, etc.) – removing this data does not affect image quality, but may reduce file size.

Usually, the right choice of format and compression (even lossless – without quality loss) can reduce the file size by 20-30% on average, and in some cases by several times.


After reading our little guide you can start to understand the variety of file formats for saving photos. We also recommend that you read an article about modern HEIC picture format on Skylum's blog.

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