8 Bit or 16 bit , sRGB or Pro Photo

Started Sep 11, 2019 | Discussions thread
NAwlins Contrarian Veteran Member • Posts: 5,259
Working versus final for printing

In recent forum exchange I have found much comment re this subject of bit depth and gamut.

I mentioned my practice of using 16 bit data and Canon XPS driver, thus allowing output direct to print and instant manipulation of files in their photoshop format .

It was my feeling that modern inks should be able to exceed the 8 bit data from sRGB files that have been the traditional print feed.

This comment and claim seemed to be rejected by some as heresy, and my excommunication was warned. Good news , it seems in February of 2007 (12 years ago ) Andrew Rodney wrote a piece on this subject. Back when Photoshop was pre CC , and we were shooting the great Canon 5D, he alluded to very similar concepts ........ I guess things have evolved quite a bit since then. for some !


IMO we really, really need to separate out:

(1) (a) color space (e.g., sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, etc.) from (b) bit depth (e.g., 8 bits per channel, 16 bits per channel, etc.); and

(2) (a) intermediate working files (e.g., raw, PSD, etc.--the original and intermediate files we process in the digital darkroom) from (b) final files used or sent for printing.

Although sRGB is the most common color working space, arguably the most appropriate for web display, and required by many printing services, anybody with a lick of sense knows that some monitors and many printers can print colors outside of sRGB, and therefore use of a wider working color space is better when circumstances allow you to do so.

Although I think the consensus of expert opinion is that 8 bit per channel files provide all of the depth that any of us can see in prints, I don't think anyone with a lick of sense thinks that it isn't better to use higher bit depth files for original capture and all intermediate processing, only truncating (or rounding) down to 8 bits for printing.

Just for starters, I suggest you go read:


where the very same Andrew Rodney you mentioned weighs in (as "digitaldog").

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