Photoshop File Format Quick Reference Guide

Photoshop File Format – Which one should I choose?

One of the most important components to your photography is understanding the technical side of your work. Programs like Photoshop yield a powerful set of tools at your disposal to make your pictures even better. From colour correction to image processing, Photoshop can make a beautiful picture into a breathtaking piece of photography with the right techniques.

For beginners, one of the most overwhelming components to getting started is the sheer number of options and features at your immediate disposal. This extends all the way out to the file types of the images and related graphics you’ll be using.  It’s an often asked question, what photoshop file formats should I use.

Below, have a look at some of the most common file types, what they are and how they work. This information can help you better understand how to quickly work with files – no matter which type is in front of you.


The .raw file type is exactly that – it’s the raw image data from your pictures. This type of data includes all the information your image provides in a format designed for comprehensiveness.

For most photography, this is the starting point for your images. You begin here with the raw data to process into other image formats such as a .psd for editing in Photoshop. From there, you export the image into a smaller, more transportable type such as a .jpg or .png.

.raw for Photography

Within the photography world, .raw file types are the best starting point for images. They provide the greatest amount of detail possible – better than any other image type. Every pixel and embedded file information comes along the .raw data. Even when you scale your images up, the raw data ensures that no details are lost.

As you probably expect, file size is an issue for .raw images. These are meant for detail – not portability. As a result, they are inappropriate for online use, sharing or posting. You’ll want to use the raw files to eventually process, convert into a more transferable file type like a .jpg and upload for online use.


Short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, .jpg or .jpeg file types are one of the most popular – and useful – for all elements of photography. A robust file type, .jpgs are useful for both high quality detailing and lower quality sharing. In most cases, you can use this type across practically every digital platform, computer type, operating system and mobile device.

.jpg for Photography

.jpg is a highly valuable file type within photography because of its ability to retain a high level of detail and quality. While file size will certainly increase for higher quality images, .jpg processing often decreases file size for easier portability. This is especially helpful for online use and sharing purposes.

Scaling and transparency are an issue for this file type. Quality is noticeably lost when over-scaled, and .jpg does not support transparency. And while this image type is typically great for printing, .tif will yield more consistent results.


Another common image type within photography, the Tagged Image Format (.tif) may represent the best choice for any processed image. A processed image refers to pictures that have been edited or enhanced with programs like Photoshop. Thanks to the high accuracy between digital working and printed result, most professionals rely on .tif for their work.

.tif for Photography

Unlike .jpg images, .tif files maintain a high level of quality when scaled up. However, they do not support transparency. Due to this file type’s high level of accuracy, it’s one of the most useful solutions for printing. Simply stated, what you see is what you get from your monitor to the printer with a .tif file.


Photoshop files are essential for all levels of photography – amateur to professional. Accordingly, you need to incorporate .psd file usage into your processing routine.

.psd for Photography

Think of this format as an intermediary. The format is great to use within Photoshop to take advantage of all these features the program provides. You can implement layers and transparency to yield a final image that achieves all your goals. From here, however, you’ll want to export the image into a file type best-suited to the final destination (e.g. for websites, for printing or for quick posting).


Short for portable network graphics, the .png image standard was created as a simple way to transfer images at lower file sizes that still look good.

.png for Photography

.png simplifies the process of uploading images with low file sizes that still look perfectly suitable for online uses. It is also a great choice for graphics that may require transparency. However, this image type is not as useful as others for functions such as scaling and printing. You’ll be better-suited to stick to .png files for web and digital use while choosing .jpg or .tif files for printing.


The Encapsulated Postscript (.eps) file type is what most people use for logos and other vector images. For web design purposes, logos can be created in the .eps format for crisp images that are easily scaled without diminishing the quality.

.eps for Photography

This format is best-suited for vector graphics. Photographers have multiple other options much better-suited for their image-related objectives.


Portable Document Format (.pdf) is the most common online document type used in the digital world. This is a useful and valuable format for sharing transferring documents across multiple digital outlets.

.pdf for Photography

As mentioned, the .pdf file type is most appropriate for documents. Image scaling and transparency are not suitable for this type. However, what you see is what you get when it comes to printing. As a result, documents with images will print with a high degree of accuracy.

Cherish Artz Cheat Sheets002 photoshop file format

Your Key to Unlocking Your True Photography Potential

Beyond this explanation, use our File Formats Cheat Sheet as a quick reference guide any time you need some help with your images.  Keep it handy to help you decide what photoshop file type you should be using.

Cherish Artz Photographic Artistry invites all aspiring and professional photographers to their Photoshop courses and camera lessons in Mackay. Understanding the basics behind photography is the key to producing consistently high quality work. Enrolling in these programs gives Mackay photographers an edge over the competition with highly streamlined workshops designed to get results.

As you can see, our guides and resources presented on this site give you immediate access to the information you need for your everyday work. These Photoshop courses in Mackay showcase the high impact approach that has helped distinguish Cherish Artz as a premier educational source.

If you’re ready to improve your techniques, learn new skills and produce consistently better work, contact us today. Have a look at our workshops, camera lessons and Photoshop courses and you’ll agree that our programs will bring you even better final products – that both you and your clients will truly love.

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