Digital Images and File TypesThe internet is saturated with digital images, and images are the cornerstone to effective content and social media marketing campaigns. In the second part of this blog series, we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using various image file formats and how to understand and manage Exif data attached to your digital image files.

Digital Images, Part Two

In our previous post, we discussed how the production and sharing of digital images on the Internet has evolved into a simple and seamless process through the use of smartphone cameras and apps. However, there are instances in which it is important to edit an image before distributing it on the Internet. In this second post, we will review digital image file types in more depth and discuss what Exchangeable Image File Format data (or Exif data) may be revealing about you through your digital images.

Choosing The Right Image File Format

The most commonly used digital image file format on the Internet is the JPEG format. This is the most common and universal file format for photographs and digital images with a wide range of colors and detail. Most consumer-grade digital cameras and cell phones automatically format photographs as JPEGs. However, JPEG is not the optimal format for all digital images – images such as illustrations, text-heavy images and graphs may appear muddled and pixelated as JPEGs.


The more appropriate image format for these types of images is PNG. Photographs can also be stored as PNG images, but the PNG files are usually prohibitively large. Finally, documents that are scanned and stored or shared as digital images should be formatted as either TIFF or PDF files – TIFF is preferable for simple, text-heavy documents that are black and white while higher-contrast and/or color documents should be formatted as PDF.


The GIF and BMP formats are less commonly used and should only be used in specific situations. One of the more popular applications of the GIF format is animated images, which can usually be produced within reasonable file size constraints and are commonly supported in most web browsers. The BMP format is commonly used by the Microsoft Paint program that comes installed with Windows operating systems, but it is not an optimal file format or universally supported by all web browsers.

Exif Data

It is important to note that even if you have no interest in editing or converting a digital photograph taken with a camera or smartphone before uploading it to a blog or social media service, it is important to understand how Exchangeable image file format (Exif) data is added to a digital image file and what this Exif data may be revealing about you.

Exif data, in relation to digital cameras, smartphones and scanners, is often attached to files in the form of ancillary and metadata tags. Simply put, Exif data attached to a digital image can include date and time information, location data, camera settings, thumbnail images, descriptions and copyright information. For some users, sharing date, time and location data may be unnecessary and even considered a breach of privacy – a casual social media user may not want other Internet users to locate their home or office through Exif data attached to an image file. Worse still, some smartphone apps do not give a user control over this information. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to strip Exif data from an image file, either through the use of a computer or mobile operating system or a graphics editing program.