Hello and welcome to another VR blog post – this time, all about the difference between 8-bit and 10-bit in 360 VR. What exactly do 8-bit and 10-bit mean, is one better than the other, and do you need both? I will be using the brand new Insta360 Titan as an example for the 10-bit unit – and for the other example, most VR cameras are 8-bit, like the ONE X. Let’s get right into it!
Right now, 8-bit is everywhere. Pretty much everything you see on the internet, on your phone, and on your TV is 8-bit. To really understand the difference between 8 and 10-bit, we need to leave the VR world and go back to the world of 2D video and get into some technical camera lingo – bit depth and color depth.
Bit depth refers to the color information stored in an image. The higher the bit depth of an image, the more colors it can store. In an 8-bit image, you can only have 256 shades of red, blue and green. But in a 10-bit image, you can have 1024 shades.
If you are someone who shoots video and posts it directly without any post-processing, 10-bit is not necessary. But, if you are creating high-quality, professional 360 VR video, there are a couple of reasons why 10-bit is beneficial and will improve the quality of your footage. For example, say your camera has 13 stops of dynamic range using a REC 709 regular mode – which only has 5-6 stops. The 8-bit color spread across that does not utilize the entire dynamic range. Log modes are used in order to get every stop out of your camera sensor into a limited space. But if you are using 8-bit to record this information, it would need to be stretched back out in post-production, which creates the problem of banding. Since 10-bit can spread across a larger range, it captures things like the color of the sky better than 8-bit as well.
Another thing about cameras using 8-bit color depth is that they cannot produce HDR, which is a common misconception. If you were to flatten out the video, it would not pass the HDR test. However, 10-bit color depth, like on the Insta360 Titan camera, does meet the minimum requirements for HDR. We just don’t have a headset to watch HDR content yet.
In general, one minor downfall of the Titan camera is that in terms of color sampling, it has 4:2:0 instead of 4:2:2 color subsampling. This is not a big deal, but worth a mention. If you want to learn more about color sampling, watch my Titan review tutorial.
Overall, if you are a very casual user of 360 cameras, upgrading to a 10-bit camera like the Titan might not be worth it. However, in the dynamic and growing world of 360 video, clean, high quality video is super important, especially if it’s your bread and butter, or even if it’s your art. So if you’re a passionate VR artist or creator, I’d definitely recommend the Titan!
Thanks so much for reading, and make sure to keep up with us for more 360 VR content like post-production and workflow tips. Check out CreatorUp’s YouTube page for video tutorials on topics like this, and subscribe to our newsletter to get content delivered straight to your inbox!