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How many bits?
Old 07-20-2003, 06:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I thought I already posted this, but I can't find it, so here goes again. Can any of you tell me if there is any real world advantgage to outputing digital photos in 16 bits as compared to 8 bits? Thanks.
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Re: How many bits?
Old 07-20-2003, 07:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you are familiar with the hexidecimal numbering system and you extrapolate 8 bits, you end up with 255 possible colors (if you count zero, it becomes 256). If you continue on up to 16-bits, your color possibilities just jumped up to 65,535 (again, add one if you count the zero). Now, when digital cameras jump up to 32-bits, you will have a full palette of 16 MILLION colors for rendering your images. Whoo hoooo!!!!

Good day!

Mike
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Re: How many bits?
Old 07-20-2003, 11:07 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Soujrnr, Thanks for the reply. I kind of understand that. But my real question is does it really matter in everyday use. I have been using JPEG fine out of my d-60 and in PS i think these have been 8-bit. Prints have been great. I've just started shooting raw and using capture one dslr pro to convert. This program has an option to output in 16-bit. If my prints were aready great looking, would I be gaining any noticable quality by using 16-bit? Of course I'm going to do some testing to see for myself, but I just wondered if any of the experts in here have noticed any difference.
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Re: How many bits?
Old 07-21-2003, 02:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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While Soujonir (sp?) has his math right it's not as simple as that and he's not totally accurate...

24 Bit colour will give you 16.7 million colors...however, broken down you only get 256 shades of each of Red, Green and Blue. That's also 256 shades of grey when mixed properly...this is techically only 8 bit because each primary color is only 8 bits...

If you notice in Photoshop under the Image -> Mode menu you have 8 bit and 16 bit settings but no 24 bit. Thats because they're going by the per channel bits ( a channel being red, blue or green). Now, with 8 bit being 256 shades of each primary that means 16 bit is 65,000+ shades of each primary...While it's not that easy to see 256 seperate shades of blue, how easy do you think it is to visually distunguish over 16,000 shades of just blue? Now you mix in a bit of each of 16,000+ shades of red and green and you have a level colour reproduction unequalled.

Now, this is where I get lost personally. Can my monitor display 16 bit/per channel? Nope. I'm not sure what a monitor is but I think it's only slightly better than standard TV and standard TV can actually only do 15 bit total (not per channel). My video card says it does 32 bit but that's total and, unless something changed since the last time I was really up on this stuff, it's still only 24 bit with an extra 8 bits of an alpha channel (used for transparency). So a 32 bit video card as Sojounir mentioned is really just 8 bits each of RGB and 8 bits of transparency levels. Now, that's providing the manufacturer is even refering to the color depth of the card, You'll find cards advertised at 64Bit and 128bit, but that has nothing to do with color! That's the processing power of the main chip on the card! The actually bit depth of the card with be buried under the Marketing Speak somewhere.

So, the monitor can't display 16bits per channel (as far as I know, I could be wrong), my video card certainly can't, can my printer? Not my inkjet that's for sure. If I'm lucky it has two shades of blue. It will use distribution tricks to alter the amounts of each used to enhance or reduce the saturation and APPARENT toneality of the particular shade of blue. By mixing the inks together it can fake a lot of shades, but not 65,000.

Anyway, until the rest of technology catches up, there's not much point...and if you talk to the right people, digital is already too clean, going higher bitwise will only make it cleaner, and some people might not like that.

Now, as usual, I could be wrong about many things I've posted here. I hope that someone who corrects me will do so in an informative manner. This is a great topic as I have often wished for more range for doing Blank and White photos. Also, I hope I've even made a bit of sense. I'm dead tired but wanted to comment on this before rushing to bed. I should have gone to bed instead of pushing the Continue button, but here goes...


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Re: How many bits?
Old 07-21-2003, 04:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Thanks for the reply! Your much more up on this stuff then I am, but that was kind of my gut feeling. If we can't see it, there is not much sense in using it. Take care.

Mark
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