Color Depth

On a computer monitor, a term which refers to the resolution of the display. Specifically, it refers to how many colors can be displayed, which is a function of the number of bits used to describe each screen pixel. (The unit for color depth measurement is thus bits per pixel.) For example, a monitor with a color depth of one bit per pixel, can only describe two colors (black or white), while one with a color depth of 24 bits per pixel can describe over sixteen million colors. In 8-Bit color, eight bits are used to describe each pixel. Thus, a white pixel (or one with no color) would be represented by the binary code 00000000, while black would be represented by 11111111. All the intermediate colors in the palette (which can often be individually selected or removed, depending on the program in use) would include the various combinations of 1s and 0s among those eight digits, represented mathematically by the figure 28, or 256. (White in 24-Bit color is represented as 000000000000000000000000, different colors being represented by different combinations of 1s and 0s among those 24 digits, or 224 colors.) As you can tell, the greater the color depth, the more processing power is required. See 1-Bit Color, 4-Bit Color, 8-Bit Color, 16-Bit Color, 24-Bit Color, and 32-Bit Color. Color depth is also known as pixel depth. Color depth is also an important issue in scanning. See Scanning: Principles of Scanning. Color depth is also called pixel depth and bit depth.

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