How to identify content with 10-bit color depth. How to check what color depth is used in a photo and video

How can I tell if 10-bit depth is being used in a video or photo?

How to determine color depth in an image

First of all, if the photo is in JPG format, then it is safe to say that 10-bit color depth is not used in it, because this format simply does not support it.

Examples of formats that support 10-bit color depth are:

  • PNG
  • HEIF (High Efficiency Image Format)

Moreover, if any of these formats is used, then it is completely uncharacteristic that they use a greater color depth than 8-bit. The specific color depth value does not necessarily depend on the format, this value needs to be checked.

See also: How to enable saving photos in HEIC (HEIF) format in Android and whether it should be done

Let's look at how to determine the color depth of images used in applications with a graphical user interface, as well as on the command line.

Color depth in images can be determined using the following GUI programs:

  • MediaInfo-GUI
  • GIMP
  • Krita

If you prefer a command line interface, then the color depth in images can be determined using the following utilities:

  • file (for PNG)
  • mediainfo
  • identify (from the ImageMagick package)
  • MediaInfo

See also: ImageMagick guide: installing, using, and troubleshooting

Let's start with GUI applications.

Launch the MediaInfo-GUI application. You can find MediaInfo in the Menu (Start button), or run the command in the terminal:


Open a media file, such as a photo.

In the “Bit depth” line you will see the color depth that the image uses.

The popular and advanced image editor GIMP supports many image formats and can show file properties for them, including color depth.

Start by opening the image in GIMP for which you want to view information.

Then in the GIMP menu, go to the menu items “Image” → “Image Properties”.

The “Precision” line will show the color depth of this image.

The Krita application is similar – it supports many graphic formats, while allowing you to view detailed image properties.

Open the image you are interested in.

From the Krita program menu, go to “Image” → “Properties”

In the window that opens, go to the “Image Color Space” tab. In the “Depth” line you will see the color depth of this image.

Now let's look at how to determine the color depth of photographs using command line utilities.

An example of determining color depth using the “file” utility for a file named gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png:

file gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png

This image uses 16-bit color depth per color:

gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png: PNG image data, 3840 x 2160, 16-bit/color RGBA, non-interlaced

Note that for the HEIF format, the file utility did not show any useful information about the number of bits per color channel for the pattaya.heif file:

file pattaya.heif

Example output:

pattaya.heif: ISO Media, HEIF Image HEVC Main or Main Still Picture Profile

The “identify” utility from the imagemagick package can be used like this:

identify IMAGE_FILE

Or, if you want to get as much information as possible, then additionally specify the -verbose option:

identify -verbose IMAGE_FILE

Example commands and output without the -verbose option:

identify gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png
gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png PNG 3840x2160 3840x2160+0+0 16-bit sRGB 1.01734MiB 0.000u 0:00.000

identify pattaya.heif
pattaya.heif HEIF 4000x2252 4000x2252+0+0 8-bit sRGB 1.05563MiB 0.000u 0:00.001

Example command with -verbose option:

identify -verbose gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png

Example output for a PNG file with 16-bit color depth:

An example of a command with the -verbose option for a file in HEIF format:

identify -verbose pattaya.heif

The HEIF format supports 10-bit color depth, but in this case this image only uses 8-bit color.

An example of the mediainfo command to show the properties, including color depth, of the file gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png:

mediainfo gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png

Example output:

Complete name                            : gradient_3840-2160_0-50.png
Format                                   : PNG
Format/Info                              : Portable Network Graphic
File size                                : 1.02 MiB

Format                                   : PNG
Format/Info                              : Portable Network Graphic
Compression                              : Deflate
Width                                    : 3 840 pixels
Height                                   : 2 160 pixels
Color space                              : RGBA
Bit depth                                : 16 bits
Compression mode                         : Lossless
Stream size                              : 1.02 MiB (100%)

And this mediainfo command will display the technical information for the media file in HEIF format:

mediainfo pattaya.heif

As you can see once again in the following example output, the color depth of this file is 8-bits:

Complete name                            : pattaya.heif
Format                                   : heic
Codec ID                                 : heic (mif1/heic/miaf)
File size                                : 1.06 MiB

ID                                       : 1
Format                                   : HEVC
Format/Info                              : High Efficiency Video Coding
Format profile                           : Main Still@L6@Main
Codec ID                                 : hvc1
Codec ID/Info                            : High Efficiency Video Coding
Width                                    : 4 000 pixels
Height                                   : 2 252 pixels
Color space                              : YUV
Chroma subsampling                       : 4:2:0
Bit depth                                : 8 bits
Stream size                              : 1 000 KiB (93%)
Matrix coefficients                      : BT.601
Color range                              : Full
Describes                                : 2,3
Codec configuration box                  : hvcC

How to determine color depth in video

To determine the color depth in a video, you can use the mediainfo utility already mentioned above. By the way, you can also use the GUI version.

Checking the color depth for the video file gradient_1920-1080_25-50_gbrp10le_x265.mp4:

mediainfo gradient_1920-1080_25-50_gbrp10le_x265.mp4

Example output:

Checking another test video file that I shot on my phone with HDR10+ activated for one of the articles:

mediainfo '4K (3840x2160), 30 fps (HDR10+).mp4'

Example output:

Based on the information shown, this video uses 10-bit color depth. But, in fact, I have doubts about this. The thing is that I'm not sure whether my phone's camera sensor supports 10-bit color depth or not. I'm leaning towards the fact that it only supports 8-bit color depth.

By the way, there are similar situations with TVs: some TVs, while claiming to support 8-bit color depth, are actually only capable of displaying 6-bit color.

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