PNG vs JPG: The Key Differences Explained

PNG and JPG are both types of file formats that can be used to display and print graphics on a computer. However, both have different quality levels, portability, uses for printing, uses for web display, image compression rates, and more. 

In a nutshell, the PNG and JPG have different levels of quality, making them more useful in certain situations. There are also differences in terms of the quality of the format, the data in each format, and how easily each file can be compressed. 

One of the key differences between the two formats is how they react after compression. Files need to be compressed in order to be displayed properly, be it for printing, for web use, or for photography. PNG files are lossless. This means that the image quality is the same before and after the file has been compressed. JPG files, however, are “lossy.” This means that they have a lower quality than PNG files, although this does come with certain advantages. 

PNG vs JPG: Side by Side Comparison

PNGJPG
What it isA file format that allowed for the transfer of images for web use and for printing graphics, allowing for “lossless” compressionA file format that allows for “lossy” image display and compression.
Primary UseSending and printing graphicsSending and printing graphics
Name Portable Network GraphicsJoint Photography Experts Group
ConceivedJanuary 19951973
Initial Release October 1, 19961992
Technical Committee N/AJoint Technical Committee 1
Influential Developers Thomas Boutell, Tom Lane, and the PNG Working GroupJoint Photographic Experts Group, IBM, Canon, AT&T, and more
Open formatYesYes
Technologies influencedMPNGJPEG XL
PNG vs JPG
PNG is a file format that allowed for the transfer of images for web use and for printing graphics, allowing for “lossless” compression.

PNG vs JPG: Must Know Facts

  • The development of the PNG format came after the GIF format was patented by Unisys, a technology company. This caused a great deal of consternation among internet users and led individuals – including the PNG’s creator, Thomas Boutell – to seek to create an alternative format to the GIF. 
  • JPG – also known as JPEG – is a far more common format for professional photographers and is the standard format for digital cameras. Photography tends to come in PNG formats due to file size: Files can be easier compressed and transffered with JPG than a PNG. 
  • The size of the file – and the format in which that file is being presented – can make a big difference in which file is ultimately better to be used.

PNG vs JPG: Summary

There are unquestionably differences between the two formats. PNG files tend to be of a  higher quality. The fact that compression doesn’t lose any quality makes them better for graphics, lines, or instances where high quality is an absolute requirement. This often makes PNG a preferred format in instances where the size of the file either doesn’t matter or is small. Furthermore, PNG files allow for levels of transparency that make them preferred when using a graphic or logo, as the entire file can be easily transposed onto paper or for printing purposes.

However, this is not to say that PNG files are always superior to JPGs. JPGs support more color, as PNG does not support non-RBG color. Because JPG files tend to be smaller, it is easier to transfer these files. They also have faster load times and are thus easier to print. However, in instances where high-quality is absolutely necessary, or the sharpness of a file truly matters, there may be real issues with JPG files.

PNG vs JPG
JPG – also known as JPEG – is a far more common format for professional photographers and is the standard format for digital cameras.

PNG vs JPG: Which is Better?

As you can see, this is a difficult question to answer. Both have different moments when they are preferable: JPGs are easier when loading a file or using certain colors, but PNGs tend to be better when quality truly matters or when using a logo or graphic for printing.

However, the average person who is using the internet and is looking for a nice picture on their website or in a blog entry probably won’t notice the difference between a PNG or JPG. At the end of the day, most people can’t tell which file is being used, and while the differences are more discernable at higher quality levels, for most people, the only difference is the extension at the end of the file. 

  • Wikipedia Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_Network_Graphics
  • Wikipedia Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG#JPEG_compression
  • undsgn Available here: https://undsgn.com/jpg-vs-png/
  • Digital Inspiration Available here: https://www.labnol.org/software/tutorials/jpeg-vs-png-image-quality-or-bandwidth/5385/