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Color Depth (Gray Scale) of LED Displays


The LED display color depth, or gray scale, indicates the process depth of the colors showed by a LED display. When looking at the technical specifications of a LED display given by LED display suppliers you can always find values like "12-bit, 14-bit, 16-bit". Many clients and even sales executives don't know what this value means. For that this article will explain what the color depth, or gray scale, means.

  • 1-bit color (21 = 2 colors): often black and white
  • 2-bit color (22 = 4 colors)
  • 3-bit color (23 = 8 colors)
  • 4-bit color (24 = 16 colors)
  • 5-bit color (25 = 32 colors)
  • 6-bit color (26 = 64 colors)
  • 8-bit color (28 = 256 colors)
  • 12-bit color (212 = 4096 colors)
  • 14-bit color (214 = 16384 colors)
  • 16-bit color (216 = 65536 colors)

So from above table, it's not difficult to find the color depth actually shows how many colors can be shown on the LED display.

As well-known, LED display is RGB color model, and each pixel consists of red, green, and blue color LEDs. And here we will explain further about it in below table:

  • 12-bit: there are 4 bits (16 possible levels) for each of the RG,B LEDs. So it would show totally 16x16x16=4096 kinds colors.
  • 14-bit: In 14-bit process depth, there's a little difference from 12-bit. For the reason that human eyes are not so sensitive to blue, than red or green. So it is assigned one bit less than the others. So for red and green, there are 32 possible levels, and for blue, there's 16 possible levels. So totally it can show 32x32x16=16384 colors.
  • 16-bit: It is very similar with above. But this time it's due to the green color are most sensitive to human eyes. So it's assigned one bit more than the others. So for red and blue, there're 32 possible levels. And for green, there are 64 possible levels. So it can show totally 32x32x64=65536 colors.

Within the LED display industry many LED screen suppliers do not pay that much attention wen making the LED displays' technical specifications accurate. And the technology homogenization is currently very serious. The true situation is, for the widely-adopted technology, the highest color depth is actually 14 bits. It is not arbitrarily speaking because it's limited by the hardware part.

If adopting higher level IC and system, it wont be any problem to realize the 16-bit color depth or gray scales. But with nowadays tech, it must lose the virtual pixel technology. And actually the 14-bit color depth or gray scale doesnt make any big difference from 16-bit color depth for the human eye.