Wasatch SoftRIP's 16-bit Challenge

The 16-bit rendering pipeline was introduced in Wasatch SoftRIP Version 6.1 and was an industry first, providing refinement to a rendering process that was already award winning. 8-bit printing has been sufficient for most needs for decades, and the benefits of 16-bit workflows may not be obvious outside of genuinely critical prints.


If color management is not used, if color errors of several delta-E are acceptable, or if the job does not involve precise grays or refined gradients, 8-bit rendering is usually sufficient. This is often the case, even in professional high-end printing, but when it is not, 16-bit rendering makes a tremendous difference. This difference can be large even when the source data is only 8-bits deep itself.

When color management is active, the quantization or "stair step" problem in every color channel can occur at different densities, breaking grays into a subtle rainbow of colors.

The two files available for download are designed to highlight the issue. The Tiff file allows for evaluation of drivers, Photoshop® plug-ins, and the RIP software. The EPS file (source of the Tiff) can perform the same evaluation for a PostScript renderer. Ensure that you print them with color management active.

When testing these files, use Wasatch SoftRIP Version 6.1 or higher and ensure that your imaging configuration uses PSS, and not an older legacy halftone which, in itself, may only be 8-bits deep.