I had an amazing question from a reader this week. She asked about using Lightroom’s ‘edit in Photoshop’ tool. If you don’t know about how to do this, check out that video here. What she was wondering was about the bit depth difference between Lightroom and Photoshop Elements. You see, Lightroom edits in 16 bit but Elements can only handle 8 bit. So if you want to use Lightroom’s ‘edit in Photoshop’ function to open your image in Elements, there will be a problem with the big depth. But first, let’s talk about what bit depth is.
About Bit Depth //
Ok so I’m going to explain this as basically as possible. We all know about pixels, right? Little dots that make up your image. Each pixel has color information within it. Bits are units of color information which represent mathematical patterns. For example, a 1 bit image can either be 1 or 0 – black or white. A pixel with 8 bit depth has a greater depth of color information to display. Naturally, a 16 bit image has even more color information within each bit. You can get higher than 16 bits, as well – for example, 48 bits.
How does this affect your image? The greater the bit depth, the greater the colors, tones and details. But mainly, this has to do with colors. Think of it this way: 8 bits can hold a gallon’s worth of color and 16 bits can hold more than one million gallons.
This is a great plain English video I found on YouTube showing some great visual explanations for RAW vs JPEG, color space and bit depth.
And this is my video showing how to work with 16 bit images.
From Lightroom to Elements //
So back to my reader’s question: what to do when you move from a 16 bit Lightroom image to Elements which will convert your image to 8 bit? This is an excellent visualization of what happens in that case:
So what options do you have? When opening from Lightroom to Elements with the ‘edit it’ function, I don’t think there are options for running the image in 16bit. However, when opening a raw file in Elements, you can open in 16bit as in this video I found on YouTube. However, not all of the editing options are available in Elements when working in 16bit. So I’m not too sure what the point is.
further reading //
This is a brilliant post from Cambridge Color about bit depth. There’s a great visualization to show you the difference between 8, 16 and 24 bit depth.Pin It