Joint Photographic Experts Group Format Explained

What is a JPG File?

When we view a picture taken by a digital camera or see an image on the World Wide Web what we are really viewing are pixels organized in columns and rows by color and brightness. There is a standard code for arranging the pixels in a way that it forms an image file and the most common of these is the JPEG Interchange Format also known as JIF.

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group which developed the image coding standard in the early 1990's. The jpg format uses mathematical equations to reproduce the image and compress it for simple transmission and storage. JPEG is the most common code used for digital images and is an option with almost all digital cameras and scanning devices. JPEG is the preferred method because of how it can cut down the size of the image without losing too much of the quality.

JPEG files have the notations of .jpg, .jif, .jpe, .jpeg, or .jfif after them. The jpg file is one that uses lossy compression which means that the image will lose its sharpness the more that is edited and saved. Initially, any loss in quality from the way that the file is compressed to reduce the size will not be visible to the naked eye but if it is changed and resaved a few times, the image will begin to degrade. If image quality is your top priority then you may choose to store your file in a different format that uses a lossless technology. BMP files are often the highest quality images transmitted over the internet but these are not always practical to send because they are so large.

For most uses on the web and home computing the jpg file format will meet almost all of your needs. It is universally recognized by most computer programs and offers a nice compromise between storage size and image compression. If your image is limited to a few colors or black and white then a GIF file may be better suited to your project, it is also recommended if the image is going to be edited several times to preserve the quality from generation to generation.