Advantages and Disadvantages of TIF Images

Rob Leung


Often referred to as TIF or TIFF, TIF is an image file format that graphics artists, the publishing industry, and photographers use to save raster graphics images. Aldus Corporation (now Adobe) created TIF or TIFF as an image file format for storing raster graphics images. As a raster image format, a TIF file is composed of tiny bits, which can skew the image quality when enlarged. A TIF file can also include a vector-based clipping path.

The format is commonly used by scanners and digital image processing programs. While many users have since switched to the PDF format, there are still advantages to using the TIF file format.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of using TIF images.

What is the TIF standard?

TIF or TIFF is an acronym for Tag Image File Format. TIF was created in an attempt to bring desktop scanner vendors of the mid-1980s to a common format for scanned images instead of a multitude of proprietary formats. It is a flexible and customizable method of storing images and their associated data, including headings, tags, dimensions, layouts, and compressions.

A TIF file is one of the highest-quality non-compressed formats for storing raster images. It is stable, well documented, and has a wide range of features. Among its many uses are photography, desktop publishing, scanning, faxing, word processing, optical character recognition, and geographic information systems.

To summarize, multiple images can be stored per TIF file, in a larger container so that the images can be transported together.

Lossless Compression of TIF Images

Although TIF images are typically left uncompressed, you can still choose between two compression options for it: LZW or ZIP.

In contrast to JPEG, the Tag Image File Format or TIF standard maintains the quality of images even after repeated encodings and decodings. The TIF format uses a different compression technique than that used by JPEG, which does not result in any loss of information or quality in the image (lossless compression).

Due to TIF’s high image quality and lossless compression, it is also widely used by photographers, publishers, and various information systems for the digitization of documents. TIF files are typically used to save original images or artwork without sacrificing quality, especially in case you want to edit images later on.

The ability of TIFs to store images without losing any information helps to preserve the originality of the images.

What are the Advantages of TIF?

Printing Press by Geronimo13 / Pixabay

It is well known that TIF images have many advantages, most notably their high quality and adaptability. The following are the advantages of using the TIF image file type:

  • High quality – The TIF standard maintains a higher level of image quality even after repeated encodings and decodings. This makes it very easy for graphic designers to work with TIF files in the Adobe Photoshop framework due to the fact that this format provides a higher level of quality for photos.
  • Good for printing –  Even though JPEGs may look just as good as TIFs in a browser, a lack of image data may limit the format’s usefulness if you are trying to print them. The TIF file format provides an excellent depth of color and improved image quality. So although TIF files are extremely large, they produce the highest quality images for printing. It is a popular raster format in the photography and publishing industries because it does not compress the original RAW image. The TIF file format is the recommended image format for printing, especially for larger-format printing (i.e. large posters or canvas prints).
  • Multiple images support – A TIF file can store multiple quality images, allowing it to be used to represent multiple pages of a document. TIF provides the advantage of managing images and data in one file, including header tags such as size, definition, image data layout, and compression, making it highly versatile and adaptable.
  • Compression support – It is possible to compress or uncompress TIF files.  The concept of compression refers to the ability to compress and store multiple images within just one TIF file.
  • Lossless compression – When editing and saving TIF, any existing file degradation will not be carried over. As a result of its ability to save images without losing quality, it helps to maintain the originality of photographs. Since TIF is a lossless compression format, it does not suffer from loss of quality if the point-per-pixel values of an image are modified.
  • Recommended scan format – During the post-production process, you may need to make a few minor changes to your scans, so it is advisable to keep the original images in TFF format to ensure that the image quality is maintained. Using this workflow, you are able to keep most of the advantages of the TIF format, as well as the compatibility and smaller file sizes of JPEGs.
  • Format support – TIF is a commonly used imaging format for digital editing and photography. Most major operating systems and software packages support it.
  • Transparency support – TIF also supports transparency.

What are the Disadvantages of TIF?

It is true that TIF files offer many advantages, such as high quality and multiple image support, but this does not necessarily mean that you should use them at all times. The following are the disadvantages of using the TIF image file type:

  • Very large size – Due to its tendency to produce very large files, TIFF is not suitable for large images. When compared with their JPEG equivalents, TIFF image files are still much larger than JPEG images after compression.

Final Thoughts: Using TIF

TIF is not the best file format if you need smaller files, such as for displaying images on a website.