Bit Depth

11 Jun 2009

This term refers to the number of bits of information used to record the colors of a pixel. The higher the Bit Depth, the more accurate the colour representation, as well as the dynamic range of a sensor.


 Bit Depth  Greyscale Levels Potential Dynamic Range
 8-bit  256 steps  48dB
 12-bit  4,096 steps  72dB
 14-bit  16,384 steps  84dB
 16-bit  65,536 steps  96dB


It’s easy to see that more “bits” gives you better colour, but the second advantage is better low light performance.

Please note that there are many more variables to considder (including operational heat, sensor heat, actual sensor charge, sensor “charge” time, etc)

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About the Author:

Sean has been shooting since schooldays (started with a borrowed Pentax K1000 from His sister, also a photographer) but only became seriously involved with photography when he returned from living in Eastern Europe. While overseas he did shoot some non-profit editorial work and also made the big switch from Nikon to Canon. Today, Sean likes to shoot Stock. "Stock is the 'best of both worlds' industry, that requires creativity and very set guidelines to be successful..." Sean also teaches photography (basic, advanced & other Stock-related courses) and frequently arrange "shooting days" for photography clubs and individual groups.

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