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By Cecilia Hwung - Last Updated: Contact Author

8 Bit or 10 Bit? How to Make a Choice?

Video editing isn't a big task only if you are with the right and handy tool for handling those labor demanding tasks. If you don't know which video editing tool is suitable for your personal needs, you can check out this thorough and in-depth review of free video editing software. Before the comparison of 8 bit and 10 bit, we should first make it clear what bit is. The term bit here refers to bit depth, which indicates the number of colors (shades) stored in each frame of a video. But that's not all, we still have R (Red), G (Green), B (blue) three channels to display each pixel.

10 Bit vs 8 Bit
10 Bit vs 8 Bit

Differences between 10-bit and 8-bit

  1. Simply put, 10-bit video is a type of video encoded with each color channel expressed in 10 bits. Color levels are thereby levelled up form 256 of 8-bit to 1024 of 10-bit in a more accurate way.
  2. The higher the color depth is, the more delicate the image will be. As a reslut, 10-bit video is more precise than 8-bit video. Some 8-bit pictures might have unnatural color blocks instead of smooth transitions, making there an abrupt change in color shades. Technically, that is called Color Banding. Due to the fact that the color pixels of 10-bit are four times that of 8-bit, it is definitely less possible that color blocks happen. The boundaries between colors will be hard to identify with bare eyes.
  3. There might be little difference between 8-bit and 10-bit video as to visual quality to human eyes, but higher bit depth extremely matters when it comes to post-production.

Does 10-bit lead to huge file size?

It seems like that 10-bit pictures with 25% more data should be much larger in size compared with 8-bit ones, but actually this is not the case because of higher compression ratio.

10-bit color depth increases SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio), delivering higher-quality images and videos. 8-bit encoding uses the method "dither" to solve the color banding problem. Small color spots virtually identical to their neighboring pixels are blended in to blur the edge of color blocks and enhance visual effects. However, a lot of redundant information is added as well.

In contrast, 10-bit is capable of delivering the same effect without dithering, making file size nearly the same as 8-bit.

Color dithering
Color dithering

Drawbacks of 10-bit

Some people used to worry that 10-bit encoding makes no sense, as users may only have 6-bit or 8-bit screen. This is not necessarily true. Since the image can be dithered by output hardware or rendering software during the output, 10-bit precise image effect is possible on the 6-bit or 8-bit equipment.

However, there are drawbacks in 10-bit. For one thing, "byte", aka 8-bit, is usually the unit by which the computer system processes data. Parts of the hardware ability related to data transmission and processing may be somewhat wasted by using 10-bit, causing lower processing performance than 8-bit coding. Also, 10-bit has not been perfectly supported by hardware and software. Problematic issues such as the failure to play, resource-consuming, etc. may happen.


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Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

Home > Video Editor > 10 bit vs 8 bit