It’s interesting to note that most graphics and imagery professionals I know and know of, are using Apple computers. Now, this isn’t to get into which is better or if at all there can be a definitive answer to that question, but I do find it interesting that Windows has been pushing out 10-bit support since Windows 7, (which may or may not be one of the few strong points of that iteration), and MAC has only relatively recently done so with OS X El Capitan. That’s right, it was a point of much criticism in the past few years by professionals, and one Apple resolved rather quietly this year. So OS X now does, in fact, support 10-Bit output.
Just as a basic primer, 10-bit output in graphics processing speak essentially means that the software now enables a graphics card to show 1024 gradations per color channel versus 256. Allow me to tell you right now that if I had to clarify that to you, you probably won’t care nor notice.
This isn’t to say you’re alone, because most people, and even working pros won’t either. If you want to see it most clearly, or at least, easily, it helps to know where to look, and that would probably be in a big gradient of closely associated tones – think banding. With 10-bit, you’ll see much less of it and the transition of tones will seem more smooth.
If you’d like to see for yourself just Google ’10-bit test pattern’ and it’ll probably provide you with choices of 16-bit or even 24-bit files versus 8-bit files that are just a simple color or gray gradient and you’ll see the difference. However, make sure you download the files and don’t just open them in your browser because depending on the bit-depth, your browser probably won’t be able to render that file fully, defeating the exercise purpose. Actually, most programs won’t display 10-bit, and if you’re on a Mac with this new feature, you’ll only see the benefit in Apple apps like Preview and Photos.
This actually neatly brings me to the ‘news’ of this post; that even if you have some sick 16-bit LUT monitor like the Eizo ColorEdge CS270, Photoshop, your major photo editing program wouldn’t even support 10-bit files, and neither would Affinity Photo if any of you are using that. Well, Adobe just changed that and those with Photoshop CC. (Yes, it’s been around for Windows in the past).
Now, if you are working on a computer and monitor with support for 10-bit, you can enable Photoshop to support it with just a few clicks. Here’s how:
Click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ under Graphics Processor Settings, then ensure the ’30 Bit Display’ box is checked. That’s it; you’re done.
Enjoy your new capabilities, if you can discern them.