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Difference Between PNG-8 and 24

PNG-8 vs 24

There are many types of image file formats being used today like JPEG, GIF, BMP, RAW, WEBP, TIFF, and PNG among many other kinds of formats. The reason for the existence of such a wide variety is their specific suitability across varied media applications that are file type specific. This means that one image file may be useless in a certain application. Moreover, confusion between these image files exists because some file types have their own subtypes like JPEG 2000, PNG-8 and PNG-24. In this connection, PNG-8 and 24 are two of the most misunderstood formats.

“PNG” stands for “portable network graphic” which is a newer type of file but is similar to its popular counterparts JPEG and GIF. In most cases, the number attached to the term implies the computer bit level supported. This means that a PNG-24 and PNG-8 support 24-bit and 8-bit colors respectively. Take note, being on a higher bit support does not immediately mean that it is a better file format than the lower bit because some situations dictate the use of a lower bit as opposed to larger ones. The choice of using which type of PNG would rather depend on your specific needs.

In terms of color detail, PNG-8 can only hold 256 colors max while the other can support 24-bit color or approximately 16 million colors. With this, PNG-8 is best used for small graphics that require less detail and color detail like simple graphic images and computer icons. The use of PNG-24 is, therefore, best for more detailed images and web photos.

When you want to store image data more efficiently, you will immediately consider compressing them. In this regard, you are torn between two choices: lossless compression and lossy compression. Lossless compression is compressing the image devoid of significant alterations in overall appearance. Lossy compression is compression that produces some artifacts or image distortions. The former is used in medical imaging, highly technical drawings, and comics to name a few while the latter is applicable to any natural image like your typical photographs. In this connection, only PNG-24 has the capability of lossless compression because of its wide color availability.

Obviously, the PNG-8 format will result in a smaller file size because it has less technical detail as opposed to the complicated color information present in PNG-24 images thereby resulting in larger files. PNG-8 is able to return smaller files because it just converts complex-colored images into a much simpler color set although there’s a visible loss of color in the image. Saving PNG-24 images will literally preserve each original color.


1.PNG-8 is supported by 8-bit system levels while PNG-24 is 24-bit.
2.PNG-8 has less colors (256) while PNG-24 has wider color availability (about 16 million).
3.PNG-8 is not capable of lossless compression unlike PNG-24.
4.PNG-8 results in smaller file sizes as opposed to the larger file sizes of PNG-24 images.

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