JPEG2000 vs JPEG vs PNG
If you look for a list of image format standards with a good compression ratio, a simple Google search will yield a lot of results. JPEG and the similar sounding JPEG2000, along with PNG, are among the best image compression formats today.
That being said, each of these formats has their particular strengths and weaknesses. For us to be able to distinguish one from another, we have to look at each one separately. Once we have described each of the three image formats, we will compare them together so you can clearly see how they differ and which is right for you.
There are other well-known raster image formats which were not included in our comparison. GIF is actively used nowadays for animations, but it is limited to 256-color palettes. TIFF is a classic lossless format with support of extended precision (16 bits per channel), but it has weak compression and is not supported by most web browsers. There are also a number of newer formats, like JPEG XR, WebP and HEIF, which are not really popular due to very restricted support in web browsers and image processing software.
What is JPEG?
The acronym JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group (the name is derived from the company who made it). It first appeared on the stage in 1986 but is still the most popular imaging format today.
JPEG should not be confused with JPEG2000. These names are similar because both standards were proposed by the same company, but they're completely different algorithms and formats; JPEG2000 is a more recent and much more sophisticated one.
JPEG is a lossy format, which means that encoding always causes a loss in quality. The compression ratio can be significantly increased at the cost of more losses. That's the main feature which made it so popular for compressing photographic images. They usually have smooth variations of brightness and color gradients, allowing JPEG to achieve a combination of good compression ratio with decent quality. However, the nature of the JPEG algorithm causes blocking artifacts (especially noticeable near sharp edges with high contrast), which can be distracting at high compression ratios.
The JPEG compression algorithm has several important features which helped it to gain impressive popularity:
Pros and Cons of JPEG
When looked at as a whole, the features of JPEG make it a dependable format. Here are some of its advantages:
Disadvantages of JPEG include:
What is JPEG2000?
It’s easy to assume based on the name alone that JPEG2000 (or J2K) is similar in nature to JPEG. The truth is, all the two have in common is the name. The JPEG2000 algorithm was developed 8 years after JPEG took the stage, and was seen at that time as the successor to JPEG. The main idea behind the development of JPEG2000 was to create a more flexible and functional compression algorithm with a better compression ratio.
The JPEG2000 coding system is powered by a wavelet-based technology, which allows you to choose between mathematically lossless and lossy compression within a single architecture (and even within a single codestream). Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) processes the image as a whole, which prevents blocking artifacts compared to JPEG.
The use of DWT and a binary arithmetic coder allowed JPEG2000 to achieve a higher compression ratio compared to JPEG, especially at low bitrates. Although the compression performance was cited as the primary driver for the developers, in the end, applications have been attracted to it by its other advantages.
The codestream obtained after compression is highly scalable due to the use of EBCOT (Embedded Block Coding with Optimized Truncation). JPEG2000 allows you to select the order of progression of resolution, quality, color components, and position, supplying multiple derivatives of the original image. By ordering the codestream in various ways, applications can achieve significant performance increases or flexibly adapt to varying network bandwidth while transmitting an image sequence. For example, a gigapixel JPEG2000 image can be viewed with little delay, because only the display-size version can be read and decoded from the whole file. Another example is the ability to obtain a visually lossless image from the losslessly compressed master image, which can save time and bandwidth.
This format supports very large images (up to 232 – 1 on each dimension), multiple components (up to 16384 components for multi-spectral data), and a higher dynamic range (1–38 bits per component), where each component can have a different resolution and bit depth.
Actually, JPEG2000 is a whole family of standards, consisting of 12 parts. Its first part, the Core Coding System, specifies the basic feature set (encoding and decoding processes, codestream syntax, file format) and is free to use without payment or license fees. The additional parts include extensions giving more flexibility (extended file format JPX, Part 2), Motion JPEG2000 (file format MJ2, Part 3), multi-layer compound images (file format JPM, Part 6), a security framework (Part 8), the JPIP communication protocol (Part 9), a three-dimensional extension (JP3D, Part 10), etc.
Despite all its advantages, for various reasons JPEG2000 format didn't become as ubiquitous as its developers thought it would. If we compare JPEG2000 and JPEG, J2K is more complex and computationally demanding, so until recently (before sufficient development of processors and parallel algorithms) it was too slow in many practical cases. Another problem was that neither manufacturers nor regular customers were ready to adopt it in the early 2000s.
Today, JPEG2000 is considered to be a niche format and is mostly seen when acquiring images from scanners, medical imaging devices, cameras, satellites, geospatial imaging, digital cinema, broadcasting equipment, and high-end technical imaging equipment. However, now JPEG2000 has already reached maturity and is supported by plenty of consumer software and hardware, and there are solutions to most potential problems. So it still has potential for growth in acceptance and popularity.
The best way to understand the difference between JPEG and JPEG2000 is by looking at each of their features. Doing that helps us establish a relationship between the two and highlight the differences even more. The following are some of the most important features of JPEG2000:
Pros and Cons of JPEG2000
JPEG2000 has some amazing features, and the advantages of using this image format over others are pretty impressive as well. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to use JPEG2000:
JPEG2000 also has some disadvantages
What is PNG?
PNG (or Portable Network Graphics) is another format that was created for lossless image compression. Today, PNG is the most popular image format on websites, and it is also expected to be the eventual replacement of GIF format, which is still actively used for animations. Actually, the replacement of GIF was the main motivation for creating PNG format, because the patented GIF format requires a license and has a well-known limit of a 256-color palette.
PNG uses the non-patented lossless compression algorithm Deflate, which is a combination of LZ77 and Huffman coding. The progressiveness feature of PNG is based on an optional 2-dimensional 7-pass interlacing scheme, which, however, reduces the compression ratio when used.
A PNG file's size depends on color depth (up to 64 bits per pixel), using a predictive filter on the precompression stage, implementation of Deflate compression, optional interlacing, and optional metadata. Several options for lossy compression were developed for this format: posterization (reduction of the number of unique colors), advanced palette selection techniques (reduction of 32-bit colors to 8-bit palette), and a lossy averaging filter.
GIF supports animation, but it was decided that PNG should be a single-image format. However, in 2008 an extension to PNG called APNG (animated PNG) was proposed, and now it is supported by all major web browsers except Microsoft IE/Edge. However, even Edge will start supporting it soon, because in December 2018, Microsoft announced that they would start using Chrome’s Blink engine in the Edge browser while discontinuing development of its own proprietary browser engine, EdgeHTML.
PNG supports color correction data (gamma, white balance, color profiles). Correction is needed because the same numeric color values can produce different colors on different computer setups, even with identical monitors. However, practical usage of this feature may become a problem, and this information is often removed by PNG optimization tools.
PNG has several main features that allowed it to become the most popular lossless format for synthetic raster images. Let’s briefly look at each one:
Pros and Cons of PNG
PNG compression is practical, and that makes it a really popular tool for storage and transmission of synthetic and computer-generated graphical images. Here are some additional advantages of this format:
However, PNG is not perfect, and has its drawbacks too:
What's better: JPEG vs JPEG2000 vs PNG
Each of these three image formats can be useful for different tasks. JPEG is very fast and it's compatible with most devices and hardware, so it can be used almost everywhere today though with some image quality limitations. JPEG2000, on the other hand, is more useful for maintaining high quality of images and dealing with real-time TV and digital cinema content, while PNG is more convenient for online transfer of synthetic images. Each of them has unique properties that can be applied for storing and processing images in different situations.