JPEG Vs JPG Image Format (What’s the difference?)

JPEG Vs JPG image format

What is the difference between JPEG vs JPG? Short answer: no great difference. As far as using the different file extensions, with almost every program or device I’ve ever used, it doesn’t make any difference at all. 

Oftentimes, whenever someone is just beginning to get really serious in their digital photography, questions come up that they think they should know the answer to.

The computer aspect of digital photography has many things that fall into that scenario.

Other times, photographers can take for granted certain aspects of computer and camera work. What category are you in? 

JPEG Vs JPG (What’s the difference?)

If you save an image as a jpg, the program you open it in on a different device may change it to jpeg, or vice versa. Even on the same device or computer, different programs may handle the same image with one name or another.

JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Expert Group, a group formed for creating and maintaining standards involving digital photography.

JPEG (or JPG) is a digital photographic image format that utilizes lossy compression in order to keep files compatible and reasonably sized.

Virtually any device that can display images can read a JPEG. Even small mobile devices are compatible with the JPEG standard.

Why are JPEG and JPG named differently?

If the names JPEG vs JPG are virtually interchangeable, why is there even a difference in the first place? The difference in spelling relates to how certain programs or operating systems handle file extensions.

What is a file extension? A file extension is a form of metadata that explains to a computing device how the information within a file is stored.

The extension also describes just what type of data is being stored, shared, or manipulated. 

Some file extensions can be utilized by the same programs. For instance, a Photoshop document, PSD, can be opened in Photoshop, Lightroom, and some other programs from Adobe or others.

Photoshop can also open .TIF, .PNG, .NEF, .JPG, and so on. Microsoft Excel, depending on version, can open .CSV, .XLS, and .XLSX. Other programs can open those files as well. Same as with Microsoft Word and .DOC, .DOCX, .RTF, .OTF and so on.

Obviously then, there is some flexibility in how programs and extensions can operate. Since that is the case, there isn’t really a huge difference in JPEG vs JPG? Because they both work in pretty much the same way regardless of the original label. 

Looking at those two labels, we find that .JPG was the extension used by programs on early Windows platforms because the file extension labels were limited to three characters.

The .JPEG extension was used on MAC OS and Unix of the same time periods. Lower case letters work also, .jpg or .jpeg. With current versions of these systems, it really doesn’t seem to make any difference at all.

What format extension should I save in?

When shooting with your camera, you have many choices of the camera RAW format, such as Nikon .NEF, Canon .CRW, Kodak .DCS, Fuji .RAF and so on.

You also usually have several sizes of JPEG files available, most cameras saving in .jpg file extension. So, whatever your camera saves in, that’s the extension that will be used.

The .JPG vs .JPEG is more common because of how many programs and devices were being made to be compatible with the Windows platform.

If the situation early on in digital photography had been different, we might see the .JPEG label in digital cameras. As has been noted, it really doesn’t matter.

Devices and programs that utilize JPEGs will generally read either one. In fact, I have never come across myself any device or program that could only read it one way.

Working on a computer with a program reading your digital image files, it will save as whatever default it already has.

Some programs I work with will change my spelling for me as it realizes I am naming a file extension. Most of the time, I don’t even notice it. 

Some of my files will end up with an odd-looking label. Depending on the program, I may have an image labeled flowers1.jpeg.jpg or flowers 1.jpg.jpeg because of how I was typing it in the save as field.

That happens because it knows I am saving as a JPEG (or JPG) and it adds its file extension onto the back end of whatever I’ve typed. Most of the programs just change it to one or the other.

How to change JPEG to JPG extension

When you import a .jpeg file into a program that saves as .jpg, it is likely to change them automatically or simply read them as-is.

Same for the opposite scenario. So, you don’t really need to go in and change all your files when you change programs or devices. 

You can also right-click on the file, open properties, and choose rename. For the most part, though, you shouldn’t worry about it, just let it happen or leave it as is.

JPEG and JPG alternatives

A variety of different camera RAW file extensions exist. A generic RAW file extension of .DNG is also available that some manufacturers use.

There may even be different RAW extensions within the same camera brand, such as .crw, .cr2, and .cr3 in the Canon brand. 

With many of these RAW extensions, you will need to have a program that is able to read the RAW file.

There are also conversion programs to change the proprietary RAW file into something else, sometimes the .dng, other times another alternative.

A great alternative to either camera RAW or JPEG is the TIFF (.tif). TIFFs are an excellent format to use, as they are lossless, using no compression.

While JPEGs are easy to use and widely compatible, they are a compressed format, which has certain limitations.

Other file formats you may see include .PNG, .GIF, .PDF, .PSD, and .EPS. There are good reasons for using any of these.

It is a good idea to be familiar with the options available to digital photographers.