Comparing Formats for Still Image Digitizing

Which is better for long-term digital image preservation: TIFF or JPEG or PNG images?

The Still Image Working Group within the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) recently posted a comparison of a few selected digital file formats. These are sometimes called target formats: they are the output format that you reformat to. In this case, the article compares formats suitable for the digitization of historical and cultural materials that can be reproduced as still images, such as books and periodicals, maps, and photographic prints and negatives.

The report is available in two parts. The first article at provides background information and describes the tried-and-true uncompressed TIFF format. The second article at describes the advantages and disadvantages of JPEG-2000, and PNG.

You also might want to read Guidelines: File Format Comparison Projects from the same organization, available at


I read it, understood about a fourth of it, I am interested in the output, not the workings of the output. So, what was the conclusion? Jpeg the best? I hope so as that is what I always use.


    Well, my head is not completely into this either. But the main blogs discuss JPEG 2000, different from the “old” JPEG which is mentioned in comments on the second blog.


I just want to digitize, label by name, date and event (if applicable) and store on a searchable site which can be shared with current and future family members. To do this I am assuming I will need a scanner for those photos I can’t borrow, software which will enable me to label and then an online searchable storage site. Naturally, I don’t know where to start. All of the retail sites are more anxious to sell me something than making sure their products will accomplish what I am trying to do. Help


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