Pin Me

Scanning Comparison: TIFF vs. JPEG

written by: Bruce Tyson•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 2/9/2011

Scanners are powerful tools for creating digital images, but which image format is best for storing the image? Here we look at which is best: scanning to a TIFF file versus JPEG.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Scanned Image File Formats

    Optical scanners can take a printed page and convert it into a digital image file. After a page is scanned it can be saved into a file format 500px-Gnome-scanner.svg selected by the user. JPEG (Joint Photographics Experts Group) and TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) are two common image file types and are usually available to users when saving a scanned image.

    By understanding the difference between scanning to a TIFF file versus JPEG, users can make sure they choose the file format that is best for their purposes.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Rocket000

  • slide 2 of 4

    More about JPEG

    A JPEG file is a compressed file format. This means a certain amount of image quality is sacrificed in order to achieve a smaller file size. Although sometimes a program allows users to select the amount of compression or image quality, some of the information contained in the original scan is lost when the file is saved, diminishing the quality resulting in less than optimum results when printing or editing.

    When to use a JPEG

    The choice between scanning to a TIFF file versus JPEG will usually favor the JPEG file when uploading files to the Web because that format is almost universally compatible with file sharing Web sites and photo album software.

    In addition, because JPEG files are compressed, they usually are a preferable format for sending images via email or from a mobile phone because their smaller size will provide for a faster file transfer.

    Because JPEG files are compressed, they are smaller, meaning that they will usually load into image editors such as Adobe Photoshop faster and the editing process goes faster. The time saving with a JPEG can be significant, especially when edited on a slow computer.

  • slide 3 of 4

    More about TIFF

    When scanning to a TIFF file versus JPEG, many professional users choose TIFF because it does not lose any of the image contents when the file is saved. This means that TIFF files may be much larger than a JPEG, but they are more likely to have noticeably better quality. Although the difference is often visible on a computer screen, the difference between an image printed as TIFF and that same image printed as a JPEG is often recognizable.

    When to use a TIFF

    The TIFF file format is preferable when storage space is not a factor. In addition, when users plan to edit their scanned image, a TIFF is preferable because none of the image is lost when the file is saved.

    Another consideration involved when scanning to a TIFF is that most photo sharing Web sites do not support the file format.

    Because TIFF files are larger, they can take longer to edit, especially on a slow computer.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Scanning to a TIFF file versus JPEG

    Here we have presented some basic facts that can help make the decision about scanning to a TIFF file versus JPEG easier. In short, users needing the highest quality image will usually want to scan to a TIFF file, while those interested in sharing their image will be more likely to use a JPEG.