The real difference between 8 bit color and 10 bit color?

Hello Everyone,

Its Josh here from Loveridge Digital, this week on “Getting into it with Loveridge Digital” we are going to cover what the difference between 8 bit color vs 10 bit color.

So what is bit depth?

Bit depth is the number of basic red, green and blue colors that can be stored in a frame of video. Each channel can display a variety of shades of the appropriate color. The number of shades determines the bit depth of the image.


An 8-bit video camera outputs pictures where the RGB values are quantized to one of 256 levels whereas a 10-bit camera quantizes to one of 1024 levels, taking into account there are three color channels, an 8-bit camera can represent any of 16,777,216 discrete colors whereas 10 bit cameras can output into the billions of discrete colors. But can your eyes tell the difference?
The human eye can recognize about 10 million colors. So what is the benefit of a billion different colors if we can’t see it.
Well, the majority of screens show images with an 8-bit depth, whereas most 4K UHD TVs are 10 bit color.

For display purposes, there is no reason at all to use 10 bits of color. The value comes in when processing the 10-bit data. With an 8-bit image its often found when editing that you don’t have enough data and blank bars or missing data is found in the color histogram, to resolve this issue 10 bit footage is used which in turn allows for greater freedom while editing.

So working with 8-bit footage is not bad unless you plan to do a vast amount of color or contrast corrections. Most of todays DSLR videos are 8-bits per channel but as cameras get better and better and home receivers are further refined, expect to see more 10-bit video. It’s not about what we can see on a direct display, but its more for flexibility in post-production.

Thank you very much for taking the time to watch the video, I hope you found it informative and engaging, until next time.

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