What file type to use when saving product photos

Today's guest post is brought to you from Scott Gipson of Gipson Wands. Scott is a digital archivist for UMKC specializing in image file restoration & conversion.

As an edition to the product photography series, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about image file formats and which ones are the right ones for your product photos. I’ll go over some common file types for digital photographs & when they should be used for your indie biz. 

Tif or Tiff 
Tifs are great for pictures you want to store images (archiveally) in an un-compressed format. You can create & save collages you've created - and edit them later, since each layer can be saved separately. The only drawback is they are big… huge really, and can be slow to load and save. Tif files are usually too large to upload into selling platforms like Etsy & Storenvy. 

Jpg or jpeg 
Jpeg images are the internet standard - the most accepted file format, if you will. Jpeg images are the best option for product photos in listings. They have many options in saving that allow you to create a smaller file, making it easy to upload images within megabyte range that some sites require. But, resizing jpeg images comes with risks. The more you edit a jpeg or the higher compression you use the more you will get artifacts (blocky patches and pixelation, lower resolution, just not good lookin' images) so it’s best to shoot in uncompressed Jpeg (or even Tif) then edit and save and change file size from the largest, most high resolution form. 

If you need an image with multiple frames that is animated then this is the format for you… otherwise don’t use it. If you product photo isn't animated (which it shouldn't be) then there's no need to ever save your product photos like this.

Does your image have a transparent background or is full of big fields of single colors? Png are meant for logos or images created in a Vector program. It’s also good for saving mutliple color or black and white typography graphics. If you save a Vector created logo in jpg or gif you are bound to get artifacts in the large fields of space and they can end up looking unprofessional. 

So, what image format you need depends on your needs. Not every format is good for every occasion and using the right ones can make a big difference. Let's recap: 

Tif - large, high resolution images - best used to print publication like magazine submissions.

Jpeg - best used for uploading to web stores, social media or sending via email. 

Gif - animated, unprofessional (sorry!) short "video" type image slides. Should never be used for a product photo. It would be better to upload an actual video of your product in action than a Gif. 

Png - for digital images like logos, typography art, art print files & printables.

I hope you find this post helpful! 

1 comment:

  1. Great! I always wondered. I'll keep it in mind when I am downloading images.