Best Color Depth
Nikon D610 The Nikon D610 has the highest color depth we've seen of any camera at 25.1 bits.

Color depth refers to how many variations of color the camera can capture, it is expressed in bits, with large values like 24 bits being excellent, and small values like 16bits being poor. A typical JPEG image can store up to 24bits of color variation (8 bits for each of red, green and blue), which is 16.7 million different colors (2^24).

Its important for a camera to have good color depth to get the richest possible color rendition in your images, which is often important for portraits or shooting products.

Snapsort uses measurements from DxOMark for color depth. DxOMark refers to the color depth score as color sensitivity. These measurements are only available for cameras that shoot RAW which includes all DSLRs and a few high-end point and shoots.

Great color depth
A beautiful macro photograph taken by liber with a Nikon D3X A beautiful macro shot captured using a Nikon D3X DSLR. Photography by liber via Flickr. f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 800, 50mm.

RAW Measurements

DXOMark logo

Color depth is measured by DxOMark based on the RAW images produced by the camera, not the final JPEG images. If you normally shoot in RAW, then you can be confident that these measurements will affect the color depth you'll see in your images. If you shoot JPEG though, there is further processing done by the camera once the image has been captured, which is not measured by these numbers, which may mean some cameras JPEG images are slightly worse or better than you'd expect.

12 bit and 14 bit RAW

Cameras are often advertised as capturing 12 bit or 14 bit RAW images. You might wonder how do these values correlate with the color depth of a camera. The 12 bit and 14 bit values are per-color values, e.g. 12 bits for each of red, green and blue, resulting in a possible 36 bits total, whereas color depth is measured in bits for each pixel (made up of the three colors). According to DxOMark's measurements though, even the best cameras only capture about 22 bits out of the possible 36 or 48 bits.

Comparing Color Depths

When Snapsort compares the color depth of two cameras it compares the number of colors captured, not the bits. Each additional bit doubles the number of colors.

BitsColors
2416,777,216
238,388,608
224,194,304
212,097,152
201,048,576
1665,536
8256

Digital Cameras with Great Color Depth

Compact Cameras

The following compact cameras the best color depth we've seen, keep in mind that only a few compact cameras are measured.

Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100
Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100
from $536
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
True resolution High true resolution Help
20 MP
Sensor size Large sensor Help
Nikon CX 13.2x8.8mm

Learn more about the Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
from $664
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
True resolution High true resolution Help
20 MP
Sensor size Large sensor Help
Nikon CX 13.2x8.8mm

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10
from $1,298
Sensor size Large sensor Help
Nikon CX 13.2x8.8mm
True resolution High true resolution Help
20 MP
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
69.0

Learn more about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10

Canon PowerShot S120
Canon PowerShot S120
from $399
Aperture Wide aperture Help
f/1.8
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
922k dots
Light sensitivity High ISO Help
12,800 ISO

Learn more about the Canon PowerShot S120

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Mirrorless Interchangeable-lens Cameras

The following mirrorless interchangable lens cameras have the best color depth we've seen.

Sony A7
Sony A7
from $1,268
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,248 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
90.0
Autofocus Phase detection video autofocus Help
fast and accurate

Learn more about the Sony A7

Sony Alpha A6000
Sony Alpha A6000
from $648
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
1,347 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
82.0
Focus points Many focus points Help
179

Learn more about the Sony Alpha A6000

Sony Alpha NEX-6
Sony Alpha NEX-6
from $493
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
78.0
Viewfinder Great viewfinder Help
Digital
Dynamic range Wide dynamic range Help
13.1 EV

Learn more about the Sony Alpha NEX-6

Sony NEX-5T
Sony NEX-5T
from $448
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
78.0
Light sensitivity High ISO Help
25,600 ISO
Dynamic range Wide dynamic range Help
13 EV

Learn more about the Sony NEX-5T

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Entry Level DSLRs

The following entry level SLRs have the best color depth.

Nikon D7100
Nikon D7100
from $1,147
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
1,256 ISO
Movie format Full HD Help
1080p @ 60fps
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
83.0

Learn more about the Nikon D7100

Nikon D5300
Nikon D5300
from $720
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
1,338 ISO
Movie format Full HD Help
1080p @ 60fps
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
83.0

Learn more about the Nikon D5300

Pentax K-3
Pentax K-3
from $1,120
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
1,216 ISO
Cross type focus points Many cross-type focus points Help
25
Screen size Large screen Help
3.2"

Learn more about the Pentax K-3

Pentax K-5 II
Pentax K-5 II
from $660
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
1,235 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
82.0
Battery life Great battery life Help
980 shots

Learn more about the Pentax K-5 II

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Pro DSLRs

The following Pro SLRs have the best color depth.

Nikon D610
Nikon D610
from $1,897
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,980 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
94.0
Color depth Great color depth Help
25.1 bits

Learn more about the Nikon D610

Nikon D600
Nikon D600
from $1,613
Low light performance Low noise at high ISO Help
2,980 ISO
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
94.0
Color depth Great color depth Help
25.1 bits

Learn more about the Nikon D600

Sony SLT-A99
Sony SLT-A99
from $2,298
Overall image quality Great image quality Help
89.0
Screen resolution High resolution screen Help
1,229k dots
Color depth Great color depth Help
25 bits

Learn more about the Sony SLT-A99

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Related links

Discussion

Showing 3 comments

Avatar for Diamond Tiara Diamond Tiara (1:29 PM, September 15, 2013)
>any camera advertised with more than 24 bit per pixel
>any camera or electronic device with a bit count that features a decimal.
>implying the low-light ISO is relevant following the different sensors. you'll get your snow.
 
Avatar for Vlad Ivostok Vlad Ivostok (1:40 PM, May 03, 2013)
what's with the 753 bits color depth on the sony slt a58?
 
Avatar for Justin Ji Justin Ji (4:00 AM, March 24, 2011)
What is the colour depth like on the p100?