GIF and JPEG: A Comparison

Flat color graphics, with text and sharp edges, make better GIFs than JPEGs. Look at this set of renderings of the same graphic, and you'll understand why:

GIF - 5K GIF, 6-bit indexed color, 5K
JPEG - 6K JPEG, Low Quality (10), 6K
JPEG - 18K JPEG, Max Quality (80), 18K

As you can see, the GIF version of this graphic is only 5K, and renders it perfectly. The Low quality JPEG, at 6K, distorts the lines and text, making for an unacceptable quality image with a larger file size. The Max quality JPEG, at 18K, manages to preserve the original design accurately, but at 3 to 4 times the file size of the GIF.

For photographs, on the other hand, JPEGs can reproduce the continuous tones and subtle shadings much more accurately than their GIF counterparts, and with smaller file sizes.

GIF - 44K GIF, 7-bit indexed color, 44K
JPEG - 31K JPEG, High Quality (60), 31K

Notice the color "banding" that occurs in the GIF example above; the final file size is 44K as well, 13K larger than its JPEG counterpart (at 31K). The JPEG is saved at "High" quality, which is moderately compressed, but the image quality is noticeably better than the GIF, especially in terms of color variation and reproduction.

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