4K and 5K iMacs Support 10-Bit Color Depth on OS X El Capitan

by

Apple's latest 4K and 5K iMacs support a 10-bit graphics driver on OS X El Capitan, allowing for smoother color transitions, according to German website Mac & i. The 10-bit color output enables 1024 gradations per color channel, a significant increase from 256 with 8-bit depth on previous iMacs.

iMac-10-bit

30 bit pixel depth — 10 bit for each RGB color (Image: cinema5D)

Digital filmmaking news website cinema5D explains the technical benefits of 10-bit color depth for professional colorists, photographers and editors:

Professionals know that 10-bit screen color is the desired color depth for serious color correction. When you work in 8-bit you often see banding artefacts and lose detail on soft gradients which makes editing harder and less accurate.

This is not to be confused with the bit depth of your source files. We all know that working with video DSLRs or other heavily compressed video footage that is limited to 8 bit color depth gives you less options during grading and 10 bit, 12 bit or even 16 bit color photos and videos are better. On the screen side 10 bit is the desired depth to let you view the end result without gradation steps.

The new 10-bit color depth reportedly only works within the Preview and Photos applications for now, but other third-party software should eventually take advantage of the technology. The 2014 5K iMac also supports 10-bit color depth on OS X El Capitan, according to these reports.

Related Roundup: iMac
Buyer's Guide: iMac (Don't Buy)

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
60 months ago
Why Apple go to all this trouble with amazing technology and then cripple it by shoving in a 5400RPM drive is beyond me. You've made 11 billion dollars profit in 3 months. Just make SSDs standard in all your computers already.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
60 months ago

The average human eye registers... 7 bits of color. By using ten bit color you go from one bit of color you can't see to three bits of color you can't see (per channel, per pixel). So I am asking my graphics processor to process 9 bits per pixel that make no discernible difference in the quality of the image. Why not leave it at 8 bits and maybe OpenCl can make use of the unused graphics card clock cycles/processing?

Well, given that we can ALL see gradation issues with 8 bit, they must be on to something right?

The secret is that reproduction of light intensity by pixels, as well as the capturing of light intensity by photosensors, is linear. Half the value, half as much light.

The eye, on the other hand, does not process light information linearly. We tend to be able to pick out detail in medium dark areas better than those in very dark or very light areas.

As such, if you were to use 7 or 8 bit color, the eye can easily see incremental changes in color in the middle brightness band, whereas incremental changes in very bright parts of the band are nearly impossible to discern.

By increasing the bit level, you better cover this gap in the perceptual gamut of the eye. You could get the same value in 7 pixels by applying a mapping function equivalent to the eye's discrimination to the hardware pixels and to the light signal in memory.

However, you'd find this used a LOT more resources and was incorrect far more often than simply pushing some extra bits. That's because mapping is computationally expensive, every eye is different and it's unlikely a mapping function on commodity hardware and in commodity software is going to meet your exact need.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
60 months ago

I don't think anybody I know should buy the base model.

Correction: Nobody should buy the base model. And they shouldn't even sell it because that dupes unwitting customers. Any version with a 5400 disk is truly a crappy computer. That disk is a bottleneck that cripples an otherwise excellent machine. Whatever dollars you save buying that version, they aren't worth it. The dollars you're still spending are being spent on junk at that point.

It seems like every iMac discussion going forward, no matter what cool feature it is they added, is going to quickly diverge into complaints about how crappy the disk is and how that completely overshadows anything else they do.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
60 months ago

And SSDs do not yet have the same capacities. Just attach an external SSD and be happy already, eh? :)

If the fix to the performance problems on a £1500 iMac is to run the OS through an external drive — well, I think that gives a stronger argument than I can ever articulate.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
60 months ago

What you're actually complaining about is that you think its too expensive to buy the drive you want and you expect it for less.

No. That's not it at all. The point is that the Apple brand is associated with a certain amount of quality and prestige. They refused to jump on the netbook bandwagon way back when because netbooks, whether $200 or $2, were garbage. At any price, the user experience was so terrible that it would be cruel to subject a person to them. Apple recognized this and held themselves to a higher standard.

They no longer hold themselves to that higher standard. They are now selling a computer which truly is garbage. Their 5400 disk iMacs are so frustrating to use that the experience damages their brand and reputation. And non-tech consumers just don't know enough to avoid this trap. They'll buy the base model because it's cheapest or simply in stock, and assume that no matter what, they can rely on Apple to give them a solid product. That's what Apple is known for, after all. But they will feel swindled as soon as they start using it. It offers a horrible user experience right out of the box.

As an Apple fan and shareholder, I do not like where this is headed. I don't think it's in the best interest of Apple to degrade its reputation by sacrificing the quality of their products. I want them to keep being awesome, not become yet another computer maker willing to sell whatever cheap drivel they can.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
60 months ago

Apple invested in the supply chain in astronomical numbers. Until the stock of the 5400RPM drives are gone, and the cost of a sizable SSD comes down, and Apple can corner that part of the market for their own longevity/sustaining, we won't see it. 2 years ago, I paid ~$370 for a 480GB SSD. I've never worried about running out of space.

Yep, I know the feeling. 4 years ago I paid £240 for an OCZ 240GB SSD that had read/write speeds of 150MB/s either way. I buggered it after I stupidly enabled TRIM. Luckily they later replaced for a 256GB.

Now I can buy a 500GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD for less than £120. Apple could easily get that far cheaper, that's not in question.

5400RPMs in 2015, with those specs, and at that price, is a joke. You can't even swap it out for an SSD. No appreciation of longevity, or value for money. Raise the price by £100 if you have to, and throw in a 256GB PCI-e SSD on the base model. Just don't offer 5400RPM drives for Christ's sake.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker Shares Details on 'iPhone 13' Camera [Updated]

Wednesday May 27, 2020 4:27 pm PDT by
The next-generation iPhone 12 lineup coming in fall 2020 isn't out yet, but Fudge (@choco_bit), a leaker who sometimes shares information on upcoming Apple devices, today offered up details on what Apple has in store for the 2021 iPhone 13's camera setup. A simple design drawing depicts a device with a four camera array, which Fudge claims will have the following features: 64-megapixel...

Apple Begins Selling Refurbished iPhone XR Models

Thursday May 28, 2020 9:50 pm PDT by
Apple today began selling certified refurbished iPhone XR models in select colors and capacities for the first time in the United States. Refurbished iPhone XR models are priced at a roughly 16 percent discount compared to current pricing on brand-new units, knocking $100–120 off of the regular price. In addition to the 64GB and 128GB capacities matching current brand-new iPhone XR models, ...

Powerbeats Pro Debut in Four New Colors: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue

Friday May 29, 2020 10:00 am PDT by
Following a couple of leaks in recent weeks, Beats today is officially announcing four new colors for its Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones: Spring Yellow, Cloud Pink, Lava Red, and Glacier Blue. The new earphones will go on sale June 9 and sell for the same $249.95 price as the existing color options. Aside from the colors, the new Powerbeats Pro models are otherwise identical to the...

Apple Making It Harder to Avoid Nagging macOS Update Notifications

Thursday May 28, 2020 8:13 am PDT by
With the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.5 and related security updates for macOS Mojave and High Sierra earlier this week, Apple is making it more difficult for users to ignore available software updates and remain on their current operating system versions. Included in the release notes for macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is the following:- Major new releases of macOS are no longer hidden when...

8 Mac Tips and Tricks You Might Not Know

Friday May 29, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
There are tons of hidden features and shortcuts for Macs that Apple has built into macOS over the years, ranging from shortcuts to keyboard commands to other little hacks to make Mac usage just a bit simpler. In our latest YouTube video, we highlighted several of these tips and tricks, and some of them might just be new to you. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Tr...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.5 With Battery Health Management Features, Fix for Finder Freezing

Tuesday May 26, 2020 1:59 pm PDT by
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.5, the fifth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October 2019. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 comes two months after the launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.4, which introduced Screen Time Communication Limits. macOS Catalina 10.15.5 is a free update that can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the...

Top Stories: macOS 10.15.5, New Powerbeats Pro Colors, iPhone 12 and 13 Rumors, and More

Saturday May 30, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
This week saw an interesting mix of news and rumors on the Apple front, led by the release of macOS 10.15.5, which brings a new battery health feature to newer Mac notebooks, while we also saw the official announcement of new colors for the Powerbeats Pro earphones. On the rumor front, we heard a few tidbits about not just this year's iPhone 12 but also next year's iPhone, while we saw...

More Photos and Video of Apple's Redesigned Leather Loop Watch Band Surface

Thursday May 28, 2020 10:50 am PDT by
Images of a new version of the Leather Loop that Apple appears to have in development surfaced yesterday, and today, Vietnamese site Tinhte.vn has shared additional photos and videos that give us a clearer picture of what to expect from the new band. The bands come in colors that include red, hot pink, blue, black, and brown, with some of the bands featuring different colored accents at the...

Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box Gains HDR10+ and Dolby Vision Support, Plus Siri Voice Control

Thursday May 28, 2020 12:00 am PDT by
The Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is receiving a major update today, introducing much-desired features like HDR10+ and Dolby Vision support. Designed by Signify as part of the Philip Hue line of lights and accessories, the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box is designed to let Hue users sync their lights to their home entertainment systems. One of the major complaints about the Hue Play HDMI Sync Box ...

APFS Bug in macOS 10.15.5 Catalina Impacts the Creation of Bootable Backups

Thursday May 28, 2020 3:47 am PDT by
An Apple File System bug has been discovered in macOS 10.15.5 Catalina that can prevent users from making a bootable clone of their system drive, according to the creator of Carbon Copy Cloner. In a blog post on Wednesday, software developer Mike Bombich explained that the CCC team had uncovered the issue in the Apple File System, or APFS, when attempting to create a bootable backup in a...