Lightnings taking a ride

by ceinmart

submit your photo

Hall of Fame
View past winners from this year

Please participate in Meta
and help us grow.

Take the 2-minute tour ×
Photography Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional, enthusiast and amateur photographers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Which image compression is better, LZW or ZIP? I am using Lightroom to export images.

share|improve this question
Just in case there was any doubt: Both LZW and ZIP are lossless compression, so there's no degradation of image quality with either. The "best" algorithm will pretty much be whichever one produces smaller files, although there could also be compatibility issues with older software, as John Cavan mentioned in his response. –  coneslayer Apr 14 '11 at 1:44
I'd suggest you test with a typical subset of your own images. LZW+Prediction gives smaller results with my typical 24bit-pictures and software ... but you use something different. –  Leonidas Apr 14 '11 at 14:04
You can also use ZIP after LZW compression. –  Count Iblis Jun 9 at 13:12

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Better is a relative term and, to some degree, will vary in terms of amount between the two depending on a variety of factors including the bit-depth, frequency of discrete colours, etc. Some experimentation may be necessary on this front, though my reading indicates LZW is good for lower bit-depth images with lots of the same colours and tones in it and ZIP for when that is not the case. In other words, if the image is 8 bits go LZW and if it is 16 bits go with ZIP, as a rule of thumb, but with the caveat that it's not an absolute rule and there may be exceptions.

The only other thing I'd note is that LZW has been in the TIFF standard since 1992 and ZIP since 2002 (as part of a supplement when Adobe added it). While that's probably more than enough time for it to no longer be an issue, there may be the odd piece of software out there that handles LZW compression but not ZIP.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.