Portable Network Graphics or PNG is a file format for compressing digital images developed initially as an improved and non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format or GIF. However, this format has now been used as a better replacement for the JPEG standard.
The Advantages of the PNG Format
1. Lossless Compression: One primary advantage of PNG over JPEG is that it is a lossless compression. What this means is that digital images compressed under this standard retain their data, details, and quality regardless of repeated encoding and decoding.
2. Wide Color Depth: The format is suitable for different types of digital images such as photographs and graphics. It supports palette-based images with palettes of 24-bit RGB or 32-bit RGBA colors, as well as grayscale images, and full-color non-palette-based RGB/RGBA images.
3. Support for Transparency: Another key characteristic of the PNG format is that it supports compression of digital images with transparent areas. Take note that the JPEG standard renders these transparent areas as a solid white color.
4. Ideal for Editing Images: Because this format is a lossless compression, it is ideal for storing digital images for editing. Unlike the JPEG standard, the PNG format retains image quality regardless of repeated encoding and decoding.
5. Sharp Edges and Solid Colors: Note that JPEG is not ideal for digital images with large solid colors and sharp edges between objects because it produces visual artifacts. This is not the case with PNG. Thus, this format is ideal for images containing texts, line arts, and graphics.
The Disadvantages of the PNG Format
1. Bigger File Size: A key drawback of PNG is that it compresses digital images at a larger file size. On the other hand, the JPEG standard can achieve a smaller file size than a PNG for a relatively similar image quality and resolution.
2. Not Ideal for Printing: Note that this format was designed solely for distributing digital images online. Hence, another disadvantage of PNG is that it is not ideal for professional-quality print graphics because it does not support non-RGB color spaces such as CMYK.
3. Other Shortcomings: The PNG format does not support embedding EXIF meta data used by most digital cameras. In addition, unlike the GIF format, it does not natively support animation although there are unofficial extensions available.