8 Bit Color

What is 8bit Color?

When working with Video or Color Printing the Number of data bits determines the number of colors that you have to work with. With 8 bit color you get 256 shades per pixel and this works out to over 16 million colors. With 4 bit you get 16 shades and even worse with 2 bit. 4 bit color or less will not produce colors correctly and is what makes peoples faces look orange or red instead of the natural skin tone.

Your Computer Has 8 bit color or higher, your scanner has 8 bit color or higher. So if you want the ability to print what you can scan, and see on your monitor, then you need 8 bit color. Below are examples of pictures at different bit depths. Notice how coarse the lower bit depth pictures appear. Comparing 4 bit color to 8 bit color is like comparing old tube TV technology to a High Definition TV.

Understanding DPI

The first number in a dot per inch (dpi) representation is the lead edge to trail edge and the second is top to bottom. Keep in mind that it’s hard to tell the difference between 300 and 400 dpi even when magnified. Most 8 bit video boards operate at 600 X 600. Manufactures of equipment with less than 8 bit color try to increase the number of dots per inch out to as much as 2400 X 2400 so that they can use multiple dots to simulate a color, similar to the way old picture tube TV’s would create colors from Red, Green and Blue Phosphors. By using 4 pixels to simulate a color, what you wind up with is a distorted 600 X 600 image that still doesn’t give the color gradation that you get with 8 bit color, because with 8 bit color each pixel has it’s own color representation. Individuals that argue “more dpi is better” simply don’t understand the technical aspects of what they are saying, as dpi only defines the size of the pixel not what goes in it. Having stated this let me also say that equipment using these cheaper low bit depth boards do reproduce solids in an acceptable manner. However once you start printing high end graphics or pictures the difference is obvious.

 

Summary

It is understandable why sales people selling 2 or 4 bit color try throwing out the statement “more DPI or resolution is better”. That argument is a mute point and only makes those sales people look bad in front of an informed buyer. The plain truth of the matter is that manufactures do this to save money and don’t give much thought to quality or their customers. Increasing the dpi or the bit depth will increase the file size to the point where it slows down printing. Konica Minolta video boards are capable of rendering an 1800 X 1800 image, however by utilizing 8 bit color and 600 dpi we get a perfect balance, the absolute largest color pallet, plenty of resolution and acceptable file sizes. There is more to making the best color system than offering the perfect balance of resolution and bit depth. The quality of the print engine, toner and various other components all combine to make the perfect color copier. If you just want something better than black and white then any copier will do, however if you want color copies that are stunning to look at, if you want the words exact, crisp and vivid to come to mind when looking at your color prints then you need a Konica Minolta 8 bit color copier.