8 bit versus 16 bit

Started Dec 3, 2012 | Questions thread
mehigh Contributing Member • Posts: 815
Re: 8 bit versus 16 bit

Saving as JPEG means you go back to 8-bit. Just to remind it.

Jen Yates wrote:

MrPhotoBob wrote:

The 16 bit color space has the same 256 color channels as the 8 bit color space does, but the 16 bit color space has higher levels of resolution per tone for each of those individual 256 color spaces...

What? That doesn't even make sense!

8 bit supports three channels (Red, Green & Blue) and each channel supports 256 variations (0 = Dark, 255 = fully saturated).

16 bit supports three channels (RGB) and each channel supports 256x256 = 65,536 variations (0 = Dark, 65,535 = fully saturated).

What this means is you get much finer bands of colour graduation. Take grey as an example. In the 8 bit space then (depending on the image) there could be a difference between a value of 200,200,200 and 201,201,201 as you've only got 256 shades between black and pure white to play with.

In the 16 bit space with so many 'steps' between black and white the difference between two adjacent shades is smaller and less visible.

So always retain 16bit for as long as possible. As soon as you downgrade from 16bit to 8bit you're literally throwing 99% of your colour accuracy away when you convert*

*Okay, this may be correct but in reality it's not as bad as it sounds and very few cameras capture a 16bit RAW anyway, yours could be 12 or 14bit.

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