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What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Bitmap Images?

By M.R. Anglin
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chances are good that you have dealt with a bitmap image. They are the type of images produced by digital cameras and scanners. People also use them when they are editing or enhancing photographs or drawings. These images, though widely used, have various advantages and disadvantages. These include issues with resizing a picture, image quality, and file size.

One of the advantages to using a bitmap image is that it can display a picture realistically. Bitmap images are made up out of pixels, which is basically a colored dot. Properly positioning the different colored dots next to each other will perform the illusion of one color blending into another. Thus, it is easier to get a more real-looking image using this format.

The ease at which people can share and edit pictures is another advantage of these images. Computer programs ranging from oekaki drawing forums to professional image editing software are available for viewing, creating, and editing these pictures. With all the options available, it is possible for virtually anyone with access to a computer to share and manipulate some formats of these images. And many people do. Different formats of bitmap images are used on website graphics as well as in online art galleries.

One of the disadvantages associated with a bitmap image is that it does not tend to resize very well. While it may be easy to scale down an image without loss of clarity, it is not easy to enlarge the image without the image becoming pixelated. Another disadvantage associated with a bitmap is the large file size. An uncompressed image can be quite large because of the amount of information needed to display all the pixels in the various colors. Such a file can take a long time to load, send, or receive.

To combat this, different compressed file formats can be used. The disadvantage with this is that many times compressing a bitmap file can result in artifacts, areas of blurry or incorrect color that can ruin the detail and overall look of an image. JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg) and CompuServe Graphics Interface (.gif) are both compressed bitmap file types. Depending on the image you have, you may choose to use one of these file types. The JPEG file type may work on a very large and detailed file, such as a photograph, but a GIF may be best suited for graphics, text, or animations.

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Discussion Comments

By TreeMan — On Apr 09, 2012

@cardsfan27 - I don't have all of the answers for you, but I think I can at least help you out with your problem. I, too, have often wondered why people talk about the pixels in images, since all computer pictures have to have them.

Anyway, as far as designing a shirt goes, I would say your best bet would be to go with a gif image. I don't know why it is, but one of the advantages a gif has is that it can be saved with a clear background. A jpeg has to have some color behind it for whatever reason. Unless you have a square or rectangular image, you'll probably need a gif to make a good shirt.

If you're editing real camera pictures, though, jpegs are the best. That is because they can handle almost any color, whereas gifs only recognize 200-some colors. Good luck!

By cardsfan27 — On Apr 08, 2012

Maybe it is just because I am not much of a tech person, but don't all pictures have to be made out of pixels since that is how computers display images?

I hear a lot about people using jpegs and gif files, but not so much bitmap. I know the article says that jpegs and gifs are types of bitmap images, but then what type of pictures are .bmp images?

I am asking because I am trying to design a T-shirt for a group I am in, and don't really understand what all of the different picture types mean. I would appreciate any suggestions.

By anon149698 — On Feb 05, 2011

You guys are the best site out there for all my tech questions/answers. Thanks so much!

By anon77266 — On Apr 13, 2010

I want advantages and disadvantages of bitmap and state approach. please.

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