20.1 An Overview of File Formats

An image on a computer screen is comprised of a matrix of pixels. This holds true on all current displays: cathode-ray tube, plasma, liquid crystals, and others. This is also true for laser and inkjet printers. Even the eye breaks down images into an array of rods and cones, as described in Appendix A.

The file format is how a file is stored in memory and is independent of how an image was captured and how it will eventually be viewed. So the representation of an image as a file, whether stored on disk or downloaded online, is not necessarily a representation of the final matrix of pixels. And because pixel density varies widely among mobile phone displays, computer monitors, cheap inkjet printers, and professional ...

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