I'm having trouble finding applications that output to 30-bit monitors. Part of the problem is inconsistent terminology, as some say 30-bit color, or 10-bit color (as in 10-bits per component) or deep color.

The only one that I can find is Photoshop CS6 (CS4 and CS5 support 30-bit but are buggy). Are there any other applications that support 30-bit color?


2 Answers 2


Considering that an average monitor has about 6-bit per channel color depth (8 bit minus the dithering), I guess 10-bit is for color proofing/professional DTP/digital cinema.

And higher than 8 bit per channel has another challenges:

  • Video card: the video card needs to support color outputs more than 8 bits per channel. Considering that DVI supports only 8 bits per channel, this needs a specialized card and card output.
  • ICC: you need a 16 bit ICC profile, you need a very fine spectrophotometer to calibrate that. Otherwise you will see color banding, false colors, etc.
  • Monitor: yeah, you need a monitor to support that bit depth.
  • Application: the question you asked. However, if you have the hardware above, you can Google them and find relevant information about supported software, etc. My best bet is that an environment like that costs a lot, and otherwise than proofing colors to see errors after a large number of color manipulations, it is not worth it.

And large numbers of color passes usually only happen in DTP/Cinema/Compositing. Best example is After Effects - see bottom of page. Or Premiere Pro .

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Both AMD (tech brief PDF) and NVIDIA (tech brief PDF) support 30-bit color. While DVI does not natively support 10-bits per channel, AMD and NVIDIA support it using a packed pixel format that works with many (all?) 30-bit color monitors. And yes, I have googled trying to find such apps that output a 30-bit OpenGL scene, but haven't found any other than Photoshop, which is why I asked here. \$\endgroup\$
    – joshdoe
    Commented Feb 25, 2014 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Dont forget that most 10-bit display use DisplayPort which natively supports more than 8-bits per channel. On DVI, I did use ATI's 10-bit interface using 2 DVI links on the first 10-bit LCD there were, so it is possible when you write a custom application with direct H/W access but for most there are two many layers to pierce through. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 17:21

digiKam supports 16 bits/channel images, is a free image management package supports colour management. It is also available for Windows & Mac. I suspect it is exactly what you are looking for.

Keep an eye open for the release of GIMP 2.10 - no fixed due date yet - as this is expected to be using the GEGL engine and working in your choice of 8 bit/channel, 16 bit/channel or 32 bits/channel in integer or float format, see here.

GIMP Image Precision Menu

There are a number of colour managed applications listed in Wikipedia and there are display drivers for Linux that support high colour depths for a number of manufacturers graphics cards.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are there any Linux video drivers which will allow display of ten bits per channel? And does Gimp use that if available (possibly through OpenGL)? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 9:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes there are - for some graphics cards - and yes it does and GIMP also runs on Windows/Mac more details added to answer also added DigiKam - also free and cross platform. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 15:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's good to know. Can you elaborate on which graphics cards and drivers (or point to a reference)? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 15:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ You would probably be better off asking somewhere like AskUbuntu askubuntu.com as I am not an expert on the various drivers supported. A bit of searching suggested the ATI & NVidia both have supported cards with high bit depths. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 1, 2014 at 16:44

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