What's a TIFF?

TIFF is the acronym for Tagged Image File Format, a format standard for image files. The TIFF is not as popular as the JPG standard, but the TIFF boasts "lossless" quality and raster graphics features. The TIFF image file is popular among graphics artists who wish to incorporate raster graphics. It also allows multiple edits to the image without any loss in quality.


High Quality

The TIFF is a high quality file, but lack of compression means the file may be sized up to ten times larger than the same image saved as a JPG. This same lack of compression allows the TIFF image file to retain it's quality over multiple color changes, croppings, and other edits to the image.


Great for Editing

Many enthusiasts capture digital photos as JPG files, and then convert to a TIFF file to better support editing.  Once the image is perfectly set, these same enthusiasts will then convert the file to a compressed JPG file to support more expedient file sharing.  It can be helpful to think of JPG images as "viewing version" of a photo while the TIFF image is more like a "work in progress".


How It Compares

A TIFF image file is similar to the PNG (Portable Network Graphics), which also supports "lossless" editing. However the TIFF image format supports other features that make it even more suited for use by graphics artists and the publishing industry that require an image file to also store raster graphics. PNG, TIFF, and JPG digital image files are all accessed using a similar technology. 



TIFF is the perfect image format for making multiple edits to  your favorite photos. You can choose a variety of TIFF image resolutions, with higher resolutions resulting in larger files. The 300 dpi (dots per inch) standard is a perfectly acceptable resolution for viewing files on most digital screens, but 600 dpi quality is better on larger displays, and 1200 dpi supports even finer editing.



The TIFF digital image file is extremely resilient and moves across the world at the speed of light. As digital data, it can be copied and stored in multiple locations, further increasing its life expectancy to what one might consider indelible. This has lead to a worldwide digitizing boom and race to scan and forever save old printed photographs, negatives, and slides.


Heirloom scans photos to TIFF for only $0.25 each.


Written by Geoff Weber

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