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What is Color Depth?

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That is color depth!
How much color depth does my screen need?

In this article, you will learn what so-called color depth is all about..

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Image: <span> Kenneth Summers / Shutterstock.com </span>

If you have dealt with the purchase of a computer monitor or a new TV set, you will certainly have come across the concept of color depth. Many monitor and television manufacturers advertise with specific information about color depth. Find out what color depth is all about in this article.

That is color depth!

The color depth indicates how many different color or gray levels can be displayed on a single color channel of a pixel, i.e. a picture element of the monitor. It describes the range of color and brightness gradations in the image. The color depth is specified in bits. A bit can always represent two color gradations. A color depth of 4 bits would mean that 2 ^ 4 = 16 gradations can be displayed. With a color depth of 8 bit there are already 256 gradations, with 10 bit 1024 corresponding gradations per color channel. For colorless gradients from black to white, at least a color depth of 8 bits is required in order to be able to display the different gray tones steplessly.

For an overview you will find some values ​​for the color depth in bits and the associated possible colors:

  • 1 bit = 2 colors
  • 2 bit = 4 colors
  • 4 bit = 16 colors
  • 8 bit = 256 colors
  • 16 bit = 65,536 colors
  • 24 bit ~ 16.78 million colors
  • 32 bit ~ 4.3 billion colors
  • 48 bit ~ 281.5 trillion colors

So-called RGB color channels are usually located in a pixel. The color channels map the colors red, blue and green. A color depth of 8 bits, i.e. 256 colors per channel, results in a number of color gradations of (28) 3 = 16,777,216 (approx. 16.8 million) theoretically possible colors that the screen can display in the so-called RGB color space .

How much color depth does my screen need?

Most commercially available monitors display 8 bits per color channel. This is completely sufficient for displaying everyday content such as films, photos and office applications. Color depths of 16 bits are only required in professional photography and in medical fields of application in order to be able to display the relevant content precisely. Some modern UHD screens, but also models with a lower resolution, are able to display colors in 10 bits. This then ensures an even more realistic color reproduction. Whether 8-bit color depth is sufficient, or whether you need better color rendering, is always in the eye of the beholder in addition to the application. For this reason, if possible, you should compare devices with different color depths in a specialist shop in order to make a decision..


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