What Does TIFF Stand For


What does TIFF stand for? It can be confusing to figure out what all of the abbreviations for file formats mean. Keep reading to figure out the answer to "What does TIFF stand for?" and how you can use TIFF files to best suit your image storage needs.

What Does TIFF Stand For?

Abbreviation and History

The actual abbreviation TIFF stands for Tagged Image File Format. The format was developed by Aldus (which has since been acquired by Adobe Systems) in the mid-80s as an attempt to create a universal standard for desktop scanners. It has now expanded to being the premier image storage format.

What is a TIFF?

A TIFF is a file format that is used for storage of images. Anything from photographs to scanned documents to screencaps can be stored as a TIFF. It is best used for things that need to be stored in the highest possible quality. However, it is not a file format that many digital cameras create. TIFF files are used to store images, but not often to create them. Though this may seem a slight difference, it is important.

The format is popular for producing highly vivid colors in somewhat larger file sizes than JPEGs of the same quality. It is also popular because--for archival purposes--the image may be edited without losing image quality. This attributes to its larger size. This is because TIFFs will sometimes use lossless format compression--rather than the lossy type of compression that JPEGs commonly use. TIFF files can also be compressed using lossy compression but is less desirable. A TIFF differs from JPEG images because JPEGs compress images in order to store them. TIFFs do not require this.

What Do TIFFs Do?

TIFF files are essentially known as storage files. They are commonly used to create replications of other things--such as scans, faxes, webpages, etc.--and store them in the highest quality. Many photographers who use the digital form or digital editing also use TIFF files. It is considered 'common currency' in fields that use digital images--such as graphic publishing. The file format allows a photographer the greatest amount of image quality with relatively small image sizes. It also gives photographers and digital editors the opportunity to edit images without losing quality--something that many other file formats cannot do.

What You Need To Know About TIFFs

There is another type of compression that TIFF files can use called LZW lossless. This particular compression method is best for high-color images with lots of different spectrum colors, but is not as effective for low-colored images. The most important thing to recognize about LZW compression is that many free or low cost computer software cannot open or save LZW TIFF files because the programs do not pay the necessary royalties.

Pros and Cons of TIFFs

Pros of TIFFs

  • TIFF files are the most commonly used image file type in printing, digital editing and some sects of graphic design.
  • TIFF files create the most graphic and accurate uses of color.
  • Because of it's versatility, TIFF files can be compressed in either the lossy, LZW, or lossless form.
  • The large image size provides much detail work.

Cons of TIFFs

  • TIFF files are not supported by many web browsers and uploading websites.
  • Most digital cameras cannot produce TIFF files. The few that do tend to be more expensive.
  • For digital editing, many of the programs that will edit certain types of TIFF files are not freeware or shareware (meaning they require payment).
  • TIFF files produce create image quality--but when compared to RAW data files (which have similar image properties), TIFF files tend to be much larger.
  • For the average image where quality is not of the utmost importance, the file size can be cumbersome and large.
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What Does TIFF Stand For