BMP stands for bitmap or bump file, is the native image format for storing raster and bitmapped image graphics specially designed to be compatible with DOS and Windows-based computers.bmp images are basically collections of bits (or pixels) that together to form a final image. BMP images are also called paint or raster images. Bitmap files are usually uncompressed that cannot be changed to reduce file size. Hence, they are much larger than the other compressed image file formats like JPEG or PNG etc.

Sometimes, it is also referred as a DIB which stands for device-independent bitmap that enables Windows to display the bitmap image on any display device. It means that the pixel color specified by the bitmap is in a form that is independent of the method used for representing the color on the display. The default filename extension of a Windows DIB file is .BMP.

A bitmap image is a grid- like format that is made of rows and columns where a specific cell is given a value that fills it in or leaves it blank, thus creating an image out of the data. It can be saved in several color options: 1-, 4-, 8- and 24-bit color and provides 2, 16, 256 and 16,000,000 colors respectively. BMP images can save a line art, photographs and digital paintings accurately.

File Extensions: .bmp or .dib

BMP File Structure:

A .bmp file contains of the following data structures:



RGBQUAD aColors[];

BYTE aBitmapBits[];

The description of all these data structures are as explained below:

  • The bitmap-file header contains information regarding the type, size, and layout of a DIB file. And is defined as aBITMAPFILEHEADER structure.
  • The bitmap-information header, defined as a BITMAPINFOHEADER structure, specifies the dimensions, compression type, and color format for the bitmap.
  • The color table, defined as an array of RGBQUAD structures, contains as many elements as there are colors in the bitmap.
  • The bitmap bits, immediately following the color table, consist of an array of BYTE values that represents a consecutive rows, or "scan lines" of the bitmap. Each scan line consists of consecutive bytes that represent the pixels present in the scan line. The number of bytes representing a scan line depends on the color format and the width, in pixels of the bitmap.

Uses of BMP:

  • The images stored in the BMP format can be used for symbolic, iconic and graphical representation and also to form font logos and Web images
  • BMP files store each pixel of the image independently, thus maintaining the accuracy and quality of the stored image
  • BMP files can be used for storage of complex, real-world images, intricate images, in combination with photographic equipment and video elements

Limitations of BMP:

BMP files are not used for transferring images on the Internet or other slow or capacity-limited media since they are very large and are not typically compressed. For example an 800x600 image occupies nearly 1.5 megabytes. Another disadvantage of bitmap images is that they require higher resolutions and anti-aliasing for a smooth appearance.

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