Quick and Dirty Explanation of Color Depth: What It is and Why You Should Care

Whether it’s photography or video quality we’re talking about, the discussion almost always revolves around some aspect of resolution. The number of megapixels, or the pixel density, or the pixel size (last one doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with resolution, but you get the gist).

One spec that doesn’t get a lot of headline time is color depth, and so we were thrilled when we stumbled across this quick and straight-forward explanation of what exactly color depth is by Techquickie.

The video is focused primarily on video footage, but the basic math applies to photography as well, and there are several applications.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 10.58.22 AM

As Paul Faecks over on SLR Lounge points out, color depth is one of the compelling reasons for transitioning to a medium format camera. Regular DSLRs have about 8-bits of color depths per RGB channel, 12-15 when shooting RAW. MF cameras sometimes go beyond this, allowing for many more shades to be captured.

Of course, in order to enjoy the benefits, Techquickie’s Linus points out that every step of the process (from your Internet connection to your monitor) has to be on par with your source, but you can dive into all those details by watching the video at the top.

(via SLR Lounge)

  • Mike

    Less hand movement, please, my head hurts now.

  • Alex Tardif

    What you are witnessing over here, Mike, is a common side effect of inhaling too much helium right before making a video.

  • Peter “Pots”

    I find that if one just listens and tries not to look at the speaker, it is a much more satisfying experience.

  • Brett

    That’s just Linus’s personality, loves to move his hands a bunch.

  • Kurt Langer

    Wish I did that first time round.

  • Peter “Pots”

    I know, I heeded the comments and tried not to look at the “talking head.”

  • Jesse Scroggins

    I always notice this while watching the intro to House of Cards on Netflix. The blocky gradients in the sky catch my eye everytime.

  • BaPal

    I find this presentation very irritating. The presenter is far too highly animated. He should spend more time on accuracy than he has on presentation. 8 bit colour does not prodcue only 256 colour as he states, he math is correct 2^8 does equal 256 but he seems to have missed the point that 8 bit colour depth is 8 BITS PER CHANNEL!
    That is 8 bits for red, 8 bits green and 8 bits for blue.for blue. Combining these valuse is all possible proportions produces 2^8^3 = 16777216 or about 16,8 million colours which gives enough colours to satisfy most viewers.

  • Chris Rogers

    Linus is baus