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Bit Depth

Introduction:
A bit is essentially the smallest unit of computer data. It is an electronic signal that can be represented as either a 1 or a 0 (on / off). 8 bits create a byte. A byte is capable of representing 256 distinct states, 28.
 
Bit Depth:
Bit depth refers to the number of colors that can be displayed. Obviously as you increase bit depth of an image you will increase the file size due to the number of bits that have to be recorded.

Most common bit depth is 8 bit. This however refers to only one color channel. Given the fact that there are three color channels (red, green, blue) we actually have a 24 bit image. This image is capable of displaying 16.7 million colors, 256 x 256 x 256.

A 16 bit image is actually a 48 bit image. It is capable of displaying 65536 colors per channel (216) for a total of 281,474,976,710,656 colors. Yeah, that would be 281.4 trillion colors.

The advantage of a higher bit depth is the ability to display more colors. This however comes at the cost of file size, processing speed, and image manipulation errors if you are not careful. More on that here.

Cheers.

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