Mac 10 Bit Color Discussion: Overkill? / What's Required?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by DC3400, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. DC3400 Suspended


    Jan 2, 2009
    Smarties Land
    My Work:

    I am wanting to license my graphic work through, which prints designs on various consumer goods ranging from clothing to ipod cases. Zazzle recommends that designs are uploaded in srgb format although they can accept cmyk format.

    I am wanting to gradually grow this into full time - i.e., become a pro.


    I am currently using CTR monitors, but want to change to a calibrated LCD monitor to insure color accuracy. Most of the monitors that offer good color accuracy are higher end pro models which support 10 bit color and typically offer a special srgb mode.

    My current Mac systems (a G4 and a Intel MacBook Pro) will not support 10 bit color so I am looking at either:

    A. Buying a LCD for my current older Macs and using it in 8 bit mode.


    B. Buying a new Mac system, software, peripherals in the hope of achieving 10 bit color.

    I have read various articles about the difficulty of obtaining 10 bit color and am wondering if it is worth the cost? Although such a 10 bit system would allow me to essentially work with more shades on screen I must in the end save/export the final work in srgb format so would it make sense at all?

    On the other hand my major worry is completing many thousands of designs in 8 bit color now only to discover in the future that I now need 10 bit color and have rework them.

    What's Required:

    So far from articles I've read:

    1. OS - apparently 10 bit color support has been a part of Mac OS X for some time (through OpenGL if I recall correctly).

    2. Software - I would need at least Photoshop CS5; however, I would need to use it in via a special OpenGL mode and official support from Adobe is questionable per posts I've seen in their forums.

    What about Adobe illustrator? Is there 10 bit support? So far I've only seen 10 bit support mentioned with CS5 Photoshop and a couple non-Adobe software applications.

    3. Video card. A reference note for the video cards in the Intel MacBook Pro I have says it will support 10 bit color, but the manufacturer is likely to never actually release a new driver so they make you buy a newer high end card. Even if I were to buy a high new end Mac Pro it does not appear it would support 10 bit color without replacing the video card and support for the card is questionable as all the manufacturers only seem to support Windows.

    At this point the only 10 bit color I've read about on a Mac working was on MacBook Pro with a Eizo monitor - and only because Apple and Eizo worked together. A MacBook Pro would really be undersized from my point of view - I would need the expandability of a Mac Pro.

    4. Video card driver.

    5. Connections. I'll need a displayport and may need to use a mini to full size displayport adapter on any newer Mac (although the adapter itself may cause problems). DVI and ADC ports are not 10 bit.

    6. I've not seen anything on 10 bit color and USB use - i.e., does USB transmit 10 bit color? I utilize several older scanners that claim to support external 10 bit color and are connected via USB, but really have no way of knowing if they actually do that because the system's video card, monitor, and software are 8 bit.
  2. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    only DisplayPort supports 10-bit color. in any case, I don't think the benefits are worth the trouble. it's not like 8-bit color isn't enough, what you should be worried about is 6-bit with dithering...but no quality monitor does that anyway. if you really want, you can buy a 10-bit monitor and just wait for hardware to catch up.

    I don't think any wide-gamut monitor has a useful sRGB mode, it's just a desaturated and near-useless version of the normal mode. to work in sRGB with a wide-gamut you have to use colormanaged applications in the sRGB working space and check for out-of-gamut colors.
  3. DC3400 thread starter Suspended


    Jan 2, 2009
    Smarties Land
    Thanks for the input!

    I've run into that a lot from reading in-depth reviews of monitors whereas they analyze the monitor using various calibrators. LOL, I've read reviews for like $2,000 lcds only to come to find they are not recommended at all for srgb work because their srgb mode "sucks".

    I had been looking at the wide gambut NEC PA241W-BK-SV as it uses DisplaySync Pro technology which might let me connect both my G4 and MacBook Pro at the same time. It also claims to auto adjust the lcd according to interior lighting conditions.

    This review for the PA241W-BK (without SV calibrator) seems to suggest a possible descent srgb mode, although the blacks were not as dark as they liked - of course they admitted better results might be obtained using the NEC calibrator as opposed to their 3rd party one.

    Another review, which I can't seem to find at the moment, said the blacks were off only one shade from true black when calibrated; however, I am not quite yet sold on it as its around $1100.00.
  4. H.isidorius macrumors newbie

    Apr 9, 2007
  5. ZilogZ80 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 5, 2010
    This all sounds like serious overkill to be honest. Firstly, there is no way you can ensure colour accuracy unless you know what combination of printer/profile/inks/substrate they will be using. Since there are tons of different substrates the colours will appear different on all of them. Also, how much fidelity do you think they will get printing onto t-shirts, mugs, etc? 10-bit colour might be relevant when you are talking about extremely high quality art prints but a quick look at the Zazzle website tells me this is not what they are going for. They just want cool designs that they can sell. I would just concentrate on that aspect if I were you.
  6. DC3400 thread starter Suspended


    Jan 2, 2009
    Smarties Land
    Thank you for your time everybody!

    I was already aware of this great site - I only wished they had more in depth reviews (such as the NEC PA241W) as opposed to the many sites that review stuff just to sell it through links to Amazon and such.

    Yes, there has been some discussion of this on the Zazzle boards. As far as I can tell they do not publicly release such information as its probably a trade secret. The general consensus I believe is that they ask for images in a standard format (srgb) and then use software to correct for the different materials they print on. They seem to have a good track record with few returns as they have some serious brand names using their site such as Disney, Lucas Films, and even Garfield LOL!

    So as far as I can tell the best anyone can do is buy a monitor that offers excellent calibration for srgb.

    I am not sure if the prints offered by Zazzle qualify as high quality art but they do seem to offer many options typically offered for such prints such as “UV-resistant archival ink” and “print media from basic poster to canvas”.

    Their submission guidelines for posters states that they will “maintain your resolution when printing if the resolution is greater than 100 ppi” which would seem to suggest they would support printing higher quality prints. I’ve not ventured into art prints as such, but the initial test products I’ve sold so far (small stickers, pins, etc...) were based upon 1200 dpi scans I made of my designs.

    “This all sounds like serious overkill to be honest.”; “I would just concentrate on that aspect if I were you. “

    Yes, I see your point; however, one of my main BIG concerns is digitizing numerous works in 8 bit color and then later finding another market place or source of income whereas 10 bit color would be helpful - thus requiring thousands of hours of rework. I tend to think long term.
  7. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    No offense OP but it sounds like you are a beginner in this area. You should concentrate more on making great designs and less on trivial things like 10 bit color which most people do not use.
  8. DC3400 thread starter Suspended


    Jan 2, 2009
    Smarties Land
    None taken, LOL!

    This good article seems to offer similar advice:

    Based upon this article, and another similar article elsewhere, it would seem 10 bit color would really come into play with medical and CAD imagining where; for example, you would need really precise gradients to identify a 2mm tumor on a medical scan.

    I am guessing that 10 bit color may also be used for such fields as generating print ads. Part of my designs will actually incorporate the digitizing of a large number of unique one-of-a-kind vintage photos from my personal collection so I was concerned about creating archived master copies in 8 bit format for Zazzle only to later discover other 3rd party publishers that require 10 bit. However, I assume that such higher end publishers would likely re-digitize my original source material anyway on their high end scanners so why put the financial burden on me now, LOL!

    That be said, it looks like I may end up buying a 10 bit capable monitor in the end and using it in 8 bit mode because it appears that none of the manufacturers offer calibration for 8 bit monitors - they are intended for business / general use only.

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