Photos make poor animated GIFs

posted by Kravimir at 1:10 PM on Feb. 17th, 2011

Categories: Miscellaneous, Web Images 0 comments

Please don't turn photos into animated GIFs. Most photographs, by their very nature, use thousands, if not millions, of individual colors. The GIF image format, however, is limited to a maximum of 256 colors per image (and for animated GIFs all frames have to share the same palette of 256 colors). I don't know whether most Web users notice when an image has been overly limited in the colors used to display it that the natural gradients found in photos are absent. But it certainly bothers me and I'm not even a graphical designer.

I'm curious whether the people who (mis)use animated GIFs in this fashion don't have experience with Flash (which seems to be favored by many designers) or just find making a GIF simpler. Either way, I would advise an alternative solution: the use of JPEGs (the best format for displaying photos in web pages) and a little JavaScript to handle the animation. JavaScript libraries, like jQuery, can make it easier to write the necessary code. One could even optimize it a bit by using CSS sprites instead of making each frame be a separate image.

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