8-bit vs 16-bit editing guide

The 8-bit vs 16-bit dilemma made easy.

Should I be working in 8 or 16-bit? I have been asked this question more than a few times by various people, who felt unsure, if they should be working in 8 or 16-bit mode. Should they develop always to 16-bit and then convertĀ to 8-bit in Photoshop, if 16-bit of information is unnecessary for the image, or maybe always go with 8-bit? I had asked myself this question many times in the past, but only when I really sat down and thought about it, had all the ins and outs become obvious. So if you are one of those people read on!



Don’t get discouraged by these numbers in the beginning, in fact it’s all pretty simple.
In an 8 bit image (all jpgs for example) every pixel has 256 possible shades of Red (R), Green (G) and Blue (B), which we will refer to as 8-bit RGB. This totals to 16.8 million possible colors for combined RGB, whereas a 16-bit image has 65,536 possible shades in each channel, which gives us 281 trillion colors.

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