What's a PNG?

November 6, 2019

PNG is the acronym for Portable Network Graphics, a digital standard for image files.  The PNG is not as popular as the JPG standard, but the PNG boasts "lossless" quality and supports better image editing.The PNG image file is popular among digital photography enthusiasts who wish to make multiple edits to their images without any loss in quality.  The PNG's lack of compression means the file may be sized up to ten times larger than the same image saved as a JPG/JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group).  However, this same lack of compression allows the PNG image file to retain it's quality over multiple color changes, croppings, and other edits to the image.

A PNG image file is similar to the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), which also supports "lossless" editing.  However the TIFF image format supports other features that make it even more suited for use by graphics artists and the publishing industry that require an image file to also store raster graphics.

PNG, TIFF, and JPG digital image files are all accessed using a similar technology.  Except for seeing a ".png", a ".tiff", or a ".jpg" file extension, the viewer will seldom know the difference.  Each digital image file format comes with costs and benefits.  

Many enthusiasts capture digital photos as JPG files, and then convert to a PNG file to better support editing.  Once the image is perfectly set, these same enthusiasts will then convert the file to a compressed JPG file to support more expedient file sharing.  It can be helpful to think of JPG images as "viewing version" of a photo while the PNG image is more like a "work in progress".

PNG is the perfect image format for making multiple edits your favorite photos.  You can choose a variety of PNG image resolutions, but higher resolutions result in larger files and higher costs.  The 300dpi standard is a perfectly acceptable resolution for viewing files on most digital screens, but Heirloom recommends a 600dpi or 1200dpi resolution to allow for good quality on larger displays.

The PNG digital image file is extremely resilient and moves across the connected world at the speed of light.  As digital data, it can be copied and stored in multiple locations, further increasing it's life expectancy to what one might consider indelible.  This has lead to a worldwide boom in photo scanning to copy old printed photographs, photo negatives, and photo slides into a digital format.

If you still need to scan your old photos to digital, consider getting started with Heirloom.  Once received at their digitization facility in northern Virginia, Heirloom will sort, count, and provide an exact quote to scan all that you send.  They even send a digital sample for you to approve quality before paying for the service.  Prices start at only $0.15 per image, and there's no need to precariously remove printed photos from adhesive pages in an photo album!

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