Are you familiar with the terms 252K, 16.7M, 1.07B? If not, we will let you know; it is simply another way of pointing out 6-bit, 8-bit, 10-bit. Still confused?
If so, do not worry about that. Today we will talk about 6-bit, 8-bit, 10-bit. These are color depths, and the color depth defines a display's color range. In other words, these are colors that a monitor or other equipment can display. You will get a better idea about this in the next section.
When digital photography has become more complicated, with every passing day, new devices are released to the market; Nowadays, we have 4K recording devices with over 60 frames per second. So, you are welcome to choose any widget. But, before that, you will need proper knowledge about various color depths. For a photographer, knowing those kinds of specs is crucial.
As mentioned above, the color depth is the number of colors that a monitor or other equipment can display. For instance, an 8-bit portable computer monitor can display 256 tones, and a 16-bit monitor can display up to 65,536 tones. You will get a better idea after the mathematical part of this article. So, let's find out about these 6-bit, 8-bit, and 10-bit displays.
Before starting the next section, we need to talk about the tone.
So, what is the tone in each color depth?
It is the mixture of the pure colors of a given color depth. What you need to realize is that not all colors are pure. For instance, a 2-bit color depth has four tones.
2^2 = 4 tones
But this is not the number of colors. Finding several colors is not that difficult, and you will get to know about this in the next section.
What is 6-bit?
A 6-bit color will display 64 tones. It simply looks like the following.
2^6 = 64 tones
When considering 6-bit, we need to consider red, blue, and green colors. So, 6-bit means 6-bits of Red, 6-bits of Blue, and 6-bit of Green. Therefore, the number of colors in a 6-bit:
Total colors = 64 tones(R) + 64 tones(G) + 64 tones(B)
= 262,144 colors
We hope that you get a clear idea about the math part. So, if you have a 6-bit display, it can store up to 262,144 color information.
What is 8-bit?
Here we follow the same procedure as in the above section. 8-bit color will display 256 tones.
2^8 = 256 tones
When we consider 8-bit, we need to consider red, blue, and green colors. So, 8-bit means 8-bits of Red, 8-bits of Blue and 8-bit of Green respectively. Therefore, number of colors in an 8-bit:
Total colors = 256 tones(R) + 256 tones(G) + 256 tones(B)
= 16,777,216 colors
So, if you have an 8-bit display, it can store up to 16,777,216 color information; this means an 8-bit portable computer monitor can store up to 16.77 million colors.
What is 10-bit?
What about the 10-bit displays? The 10-bit color will display 1024 tones.
2^10 = 1024 tones
When we consider 10-bit, we need to consider red, blue, and green colors. So, 10-bit means 8-bits of Red, 10-bits of Blue and 10-bit of Green. Therefore, the number of colors in a 10-bit:
Total colors = 1024 tones(R) + 1024 tones(G) + 1024 tones(B)
= 1,073,741,824 colors
So, if you have a 10-bit LCD, it can store up to 1,073,741,824 color information; this means a 10-bit portable computer monitor can store up to 1.07 billion colors.
What is the difference between the 10-bit, 8-bit, and 6-bit?
You might have a good idea about the differences between these three different color depths. If we summarize the points that we have learned so far:
- A 6-bit monitor will display 262,144 colors.
- An 8-bit monitor will display 16,777,216 colors. It has 64 times more color information than the 6-bit version.
- A 10-bit monitor will display 1,073,741,824 colors. It has 64 times more color information than the 8-bit.
So, you can understand clearly that 10-bit color depth is richer and more informative with colors. In addition to it, there are advantages and disadvantages to 10-bit colors.
Advantages of 10-bit
- High-quality color accuracy with images.
- Smoother color gradients, finer shadow details, and lesser color banding
- Wide range of color gradations
- Enhance capabilities for HDR videos
Disadvantages of 10-bit
Even though 10-bit can display more than one billion colors, the human eye cannot discern that much color information. Here are some disadvantages of a 10-bit color display.
- You will need a very high data bandwidth to display those high colors. Usually, these video cards and monitors use DisplayPort connectors.
- Even though your graphics card renders increase up to billion colors, the color gamut of your display is considerably less than the expected amount. For instance, a display device with an ultra-wide color gamut with 10-bit capabilities cannot render all the colors.
- If you are looking for a 10-bit display device such as a 10-bit portable computer monitor, you will have to invest a considerable amount of money. These devices are expensive, and also, as mentioned earlier, you will need a higher data bandwidth. So, setting up a 10-bit display will cost you some money; this is one of the reasons why we won't recommend it to home consumers.
How to Find Out the Bit Depth?
Most of the professional displays use 10-bit color support. But most home consumers cannot recognize the bit depth of their display devices. Because manufacturers do not list the bit depth; instead, they record the number of colors.
So, if your monitor is listed as 16.7 million colors, it should be an 8-bit monitor. If it is listed as 16.2 or 16 million, it should be a 6- bit monitor; this is the easiest way to find the bit depth.
We hope you can get a proper understanding of the 252K, 16.7M, 1.07B. So, next time you buy a 10-bit portable computer monitor, you will know how to act.