Back to Glossary
1 min read

Bit Depth

Published Date: 12 May 2023

What is Bit Depth?

The level of detail for the color data stored in an image is called bit depth. An image can store more colors the higher its bit depth. An image appears smoother and more accurate if more colors are stored. The likelihood that you will see distinct delineations between color changes in the photographs increases with the image's bit depth. Banding is the term used to describe abrupt shifts that don't appear to be a picture in reality.

Most contemporary video formats use either 8 bits or 10 bits per channel when expressing bit depth, which is sometimes represented as the number of bits per color channel. Thus, a 10-bit color channel can represent 1024 shades of color, and an 8-bit color channel represents 256 shades. When someone refers to an image as being 8-bit, they mean that there are 28 possible values for red, green, and blue colors. This means that each color can have a maximum of 256 values.

The number of values that can exist quickly changes when the bit depth is increased. When compared to 8-bit, 10-bit seems like a small improvement until you realize that there are 210 potential values (or 1024 values) for each color (red, green, blue). Since the quality has improved, much more storage space is needed.

What is the Role of Bit Depth in Video Streaming?

In video streaming, bit depth plays a crucial role in determining the quality of the video that is delivered to the viewer. The higher the bit depth, the more accurate and detailed the colors in the video will be, resulting in a better overall viewing experience.

However, higher bit depths also require more processing power and storage space, which can increase the cost and complexity of video streaming. For this reason, video streaming platforms often use a combination of different bit depths and compression techniques to balance the quality of the video with the constraints of available resources.

Related Terms


BVOD, or Broadcaster Video On Demand, refers to the video-on-demand services offered by traditional broadcasters.

Bitrate Ladder

An array of different segments of video files with differing quality and resolution that are available on the streaming server is called the bitrate ladder.

Ready to get started?

Sign up and start optimizing your videos and images by up to 68% with Gumlet. No credit card is required. You can also reach out to get a custom pricing estimate or to schedule a demo

Optimizing videos is hard, but
our pricing is not

Simple per-minute pricing with no hidden fees.
Pricing details

Effortlessly integrate Gumlet into your existing stack

Upload with API and set webhooks for output in minutes.
Integration guide