Photoshop FAQ – 8-bits colour vs 16-bits colour

While using Photoshop, Joseph had asked what does it mean by “8-bits colour“? Well, I couldn’t give him the answer on the spot but had later found out this fact:

  • Since light or screen colour (RGB) is made up of 3 primary colour: Red, Green and Blue, then when the three colours combined, they are able to reproduce more shades of colour by multiplying factor.

When two or more coloured lights combined, more shades of colour are produced. 

  • 8-bits colour actually refers to 2 to the exponential of 8 (or 28), i.e. 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 256
  • It means, every primary colour can give rise to 256 different shades of colours.
  • When RGB combined, the result is multiply the 8 bits colour of all the three which means:

256 X 256 X 256 = 16,777,216 (1.6 millions) shades of colour will be produced!  Shades of colours spectrum produced when 8-bits RGB colours combined to give rise to different hues. So, if you have 16-bits colours, refers to 2 to the exponential of 16 (or 216)

  • It means that each primary colour has the ability to generate:

2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 65,536 Every primary colour will be able to produce 65,356 shades of colours.

  • As a result, you’ll expect the three primary colour combined and will be able to produce 65,356 x 65,356 x 65, 356 = 2.815 trillions  different shades of colours!

16-bits RGB colour combined to give rise to 2.815 trillions shades of hues. You can do further reading for something more technical:

So, what would you say about 32-bits colousr, 64-bits colousr, etc.? Reference: Photoshop (2014). The benefits of working with 16-bits color images in Photoshop.  Retrieved July 31, 2014 from RGB Color model – Wikipedia. (2014). Retrieved July 31, 2014 from Wherrette, Duncan. (2014). 8 bits and 16 bits. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from  http://www.photoshop-tut

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