My Format Factory
My Format Factory


TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) is a container format for storing pixel image data. Originally developed by Aldus and Microsoft Corp in the 1980s, it is now owned by Adobe Systems (after the merger of Aldus with Adobe). A TIFF file can be identified as a file with a ‘.tiff’ or a ‘.tif’ suffix.

TIFF is the most widely supported format across all platforms – Windows, Mac, and Unix. Its highly flexible and adaptable format allows many image processing applications. Having been specifically designed for monitors,scanners and printers, it contains information such as colorimetry calibration, gamut tables, etc., which makes it very useful for remote sensing and multispectral applications.

TIFF contains tags (information fields) that declare what type of data follows (such as size and copyright information), as well as private tags to define your own specific information. It also has the ability to decompose an image by tiles rather than scanlines, which allows easy access to compressed large imagery. Unlike other formats, TIFF uses lossless compression (no quality loss due to compression) which permits editing and resaving without any loss. This feature makes TIFF an ideal format for archiving images.

Besides, TIFF can support a wide range of data types. TIFF is good for storing scientific data (it supports signed or unsigned integers, complex data, floating point values). TIFF is also well suited to store many pages of one fax in one file because of its multi-page (multiple images in a single file) feature.

All TIFF files have a header at the very beginning. The header is 8 bytes large - first come 2 bytes which identify the byte order (“II” for little endian, and “MM” for big endian byte ordering); the next 2 bytes represent 42 whose reading is dependent on the byte order indicated in the first 2 bytes; and the last 4 bytes are a 32-bit integer referencing the offset of the first image file directory.

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