Some programs are more efficient than others when saving PNG files, this relates to implementation of the PNG compression used by the program.

Many graphics programs (such as Apple’s Preview software) save PNGs with large amounts of metadata and color-correction data that are generally unnecessary for Web viewing. Unoptimized PNG files from Adobe Fireworks are also notorious for this since they contain options to make the image editable in supported editors. Also CorelDRAW (at least version 11) sometimes produces PNGs which cannot be opened by Internet Explorer (versions 6–8).

Adobe Photoshop’s performance on PNG files has improved in the CS Suite when using the Save For Web feature (which also allows explicit PNG/8 use).

Adobe’s Fireworks saves larger PNG files than many programs by default. This stems from the mechanics of its Save format, the images produced by Fireworks save function include large, private chunks, containing complete layer and vector information. This allows further lossless editing. When saved with the Export option, Fireworks’ PNGs are competitive with those produced by other image editors, but are no longer editable as anything but flattened bitmaps. Fireworks is unable to save size-optimized vector-editable PNGs.

Other notable examples of poor PNG compressors include:

  • Microsoft’s Paint for Windows XP
  • Microsoft Picture It! Photo Premium 9
  • Older versions of Adobe Photoshop

Poor compression increases the PNG file size but does not affect the image quality or compatibility of the file with other programs.

Because GIF is de facto limited to 256 colors (GIF87a Standard), image editors must automatically reduce the color depth when saving an image in GIF format. Often, when people save the same truecolor image as PNG and GIF, they see that the GIF is smaller, and do not realize that this is due to the color depth reduction, and that it is possible to create a 256-color PNG that has identical quality to the GIF with a smaller file size. Further, some tools may automatically create PNG files as 24-bit, even if the source image is 8-bit, bloating the file. This leads to the misconception that PNG files are larger than equivalent GIF files.


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