Is jpeg the predominant file format for fine art digital photographs, or what advantages would png have quality-wise that jpeg doesn't for photography, given that it takes up much more hard drive space?
Partial answer i suppose:
If its an art image, why even consider compromising? In this case neither are suitable.
For these formats it is all compromise and negatively impacting factors rather than any kind of benefit.
You should be looking at something like uncompressed TIFF.
You want to keep all possible information intact, not thrown away based on an algorithm used for space-saving.
Hard drive space should never be an issue if one is serious about it.
- Hard drive space is not important if other elements are needed (quality or editing). On a professional workflow (editorial design, printing in general) you often have several copies on different stages of a process, because your time and the original artwork are more valuable than some cents of hard drive space.
Is jpeg the predominant file format for fine art digital photographs
No. In that case, it is not. And it is not about the disc space, but about the limitations of the file format. Mainly it is only an 8 bit per channel file format and always has some lossy compression, even if with the maximum quality it is not noticeable, you will try to maintain the maximum quality every step of your process.
If you shooted RAW, and you really care about maximizing quality over your workflow, you export your file as 16 bits per channel, so TIF is the viable solution.
PNG is a viable file format for some cases, it can be 16 bits per channel. But TIF is more widely used for print. It can have CMYK channels, and internally they have information that is easily processed by professional printers. And if it is the standard in the industry the best option is to use the standard.
There are workflow variations, but jpg vs png vs tif vs etc is the last thing many photographers bother with. Regardless of subject, photographers often:
- Shoot raw.
- Use a lossless or versioning editor.
- Export to a format that is appropriate for the task. Social media requires only reduced resolution jpgs. Printing requires whatever the printer requests.
Note: You should save the original files produced by your camera, regardless of format.
The print is standard for fine art photographs (NFT's excepted).
Files are simply an intermediate step. Like photographic negatives, there is substantial variation among files used to make fine art photographic prints. Also like photographic negatives, there is substantial variation in the way a photographic file can be printed as fine art.
In terms of file formats:
- PNG is uncommon for storing original photographs. PNG stands for Portable Network Graphic. It was designed to send images over the internet, particular sending images to web browsers. PNG is typically used as a final format for small images. A lot of consumer facing software does not handle PNG.
- JPG is ubiquitous. It is the standard for interchanging digital images.
- TIFF doesn't mean much in terms of quality because it might be a JPG with "Save as TIFF" applied.
- RAW is particularly useful for changing pictures later. Particularly if the picture was poorly made in camera -- that is RAW is better for "saving" a badly made original.
Circling around to NFT's, to emphasize that art is art because people agree that it is art. If NFT's are fine art, as some people think (I am not starting an argument), then even simple bitmaps are fine art. There's nothing surprising here as Andy Warhol's Amiga work is also considered fine art by virtue of provenance.
I doubt you will save much hard drive space by using PNG rather than JPG, and your future self will thank you for not adding extra steps to your workflow.