The BMP file format or bitmap image file is a raster graphic file format for storing digital images. Microsoft developed this format to store bitmap files in a device-independent bitmap or DIB format, thus allowing the Windows operating system to display the digital image on any display output device.
The Pros: Advantages and Applications of the BMP File Format
One of the selling points this format centers on allowing digital images to be stored, moved, and viewed from one device to another. Note that the term “device-independent” corresponds to how the bitmap specifies pixel color in a form independent of the method used by an output display device to represent color.
The following are the specific advantages and applications of this format:
• The BMP file format supports various color depths, alpha channels, color profiles, and optional data compression, thus making it relatively versatile.
• An array of software or applications support this format ranging from standard image viewer and web browsers to editing software such as Adobe Photoshop.
• The files can be uncompressed or compressed with lossless compression. Hence, when compared to the JPEG standard, the BMP can be edited, manipulated, and moved without losing image quality.
• An uncompressed BMP file is considerably simple to read. Not that other compressed image file formats are compressed and difficult to decompress.
• Furthermore, the format can be used for storing crisp and high-quality images because it can store color data for each pixel in the image without any compression.
• It is also important to note that the JPEG and GIF formats are also bitmaps, but they use image compression algorithms to decrease their file size.
The Cons: Disadvantages and Limitations of the BMP File Format
Despite the advantages of the BMP file format, it is now considered an outdated file format, especially for devices running modern operating systems such as the latest version of Windows, macOS from Apple, and mobile OS such as Android and iOS or iPadOS.
Below are the specific disadvantages and limitations of this format:
• Although uncompressed BMP image files retain their image quality, their large file sizes make them unsuitable for use on the web or for storing in limited spaces. An alternative is the PNG format, which is also a lossless format, that has a significantly smaller file size.
• Note that everything that can be done with BMP can also be done with TIFF. The TIFF is more flexible and has advantages over other formats such as JPEG standard and PNG format.
• The format is also not suitable for prepress production because it is limited to RGB. Note that prepress requirements should be based on CMYK.
• Remember that there are alternatives to BMP file format that have advantages depending on their use. JPG is suitable for web and file storage, while PNG is ideal for image editing, storage, and web. TIFF provides better flexibility.