YCbCr444 vs RGB: Which Color Space is Better in 2022

YCbCr and RGB are two different color spaces. These spaces are used in the representation of the digital component video.

The key difference between the two is that RGB is the color space based on three colors, red, green, and blue. While YCbCr is a combination of luma (brightness), denoted by Y and color difference of blue (Cb) and red (Cr) from the luma. In other words Cb is Blue minus Y and Cr is Red minus Y.

Buying a new system or changing your old system can force you to make a lot of hard decisions. Choosing a display is one of them. In this article, I will break down both the color spaces for you in detail so you can decide what to go for.

It is important to understand that both the RGB and YCbCr work together in order to generate a image. The RGB is the traditional format used by devices and YCbCr is the native format that has better transmission and storage capabilities.

Lossless compression of the RGB yields the YCbCr format of image which is a reversible conversion.

Output Color Format: RGB vs YCBCR444

Contains three colour componentsRGB contains three primary colors
Composed of Y, Cb, CrComposed of red blue and green
YCbCr has the component of luminousness Is based on colours
It is the industry-standard formatIt is not the industry standard choice
YCbCr saves the bandwidth May give a slight change of colour from screen to print.
More strainful for eyes without the blue filterThe result depends on the light, which is provided by the monitor but not the printer
Difference between YCbCr and RGB

What is YCbCr and YCbCr444?

What is YCbCr and YCbCr444? YCbCr444 vs RGB

In the digital photography system or the video system, YCbCr is the color space that is based on 3 components. These 3 components are:

  • Luma
  • Cb
  • Cr

Luma is a scientific word for brightness of the color. It means that it measures the intensity of light in the color. Which makes up for the brightness of that color.

Both Cb and Cr can be seen with reference to the luma. It means that Cb can be seen as the blue color minus the luma component.

Cr can be seen as the red colour minus the luma component of that colour.

Both the Cb and Cr are components relative to another component. The naked human eye is less sensitive to both of these components. While the luma components being the intensity of light, is more sensitive for the naked human eye.

Breaking down the YCbCr

The display of images on a CRT ( Cathode Ray Tube) is through the use of three colors; red, blue and green. The voltage signals of these colors are used. However, these colors or the RGB colors are not as efficient for the representation of the space and transmitting, as they have a lot of repetition.

The RGB colors are hence, transferred or processed into YCbCr. A practical approximation of these colors allows better storage and transmission of the images being produced. This is done by separating the color space into three components as discussed above.

The luma or the luminance signal has higher sensitivity for the human than the color components. Hence, it is more accurate.

That is why the JPEG image compression acts to remove extra details of the image. The eyes are not sensitive to these details anyway. The sensitivity of our eyes is used to compress and enhance the image that we see.

What is RGB? Red, Green and Blue

What is RGB? YCbCr444 vs RGB

RGB is a color space just like YCbCr. In the RGB the components are rather simple than the YCbCr. RGB is a color space based on 3 primary colors. These colors are:

  • Red
  • Green
  • Blue

All of the three colors red, blue and green occupy eight bits each. Each has an integer value in the full range of 0 to 255. Hence, the total number of possible colors becomes 16,77,216. Every pixel in the monitor display of an LED has a combination of the three colors mentioned above.

Breaking down the RBG

As discussed above, the RBG is composed of three colors that combine to create a spectrum of colors. The colors red, green, and blue combine to formulate around 16,777,216 number of possible colors according to their size.

Among these colors, the color red has a great impact on the overall color of the image. If the value of the pixel of red is set to zero, the LED is most probably turned off. Similarly, if the value of pixel is set to 255 which is the full value, the LED will be fully on.

The values between the full range of 0 and 255 will set the amount of light emission and greatly affect the output color of the LED.

When should YCbCr be used?

The different devices like DVD Players, RG turners, Blu-Ray players, cable boxes and satellite boxes etc. will use the YCbCr spectrum for their display.

YCbCr is the native format of the devices. The RGB signal is converted to the three components of YCbCr to yield a bandwidth effective spectrum for the devices and users that’s full range.

These devices use the YCbCr for their ability to handle the compression of the image. Also, they have a limited amount of bandwidth for transmission and storage. Hence, YCbCr is a better choice for these devices.

The range of colors that can be generated in the YCbCr has a variety instead of the three options of blue, red and green. These colors include cyan, Magenta and yellow etc. But keep in mind that this is mostly only used in in-person items instead of display items.

When should RGB be used?

Usually, the RGB is used in the video signals made by computers and game consoles. The devices which do not benefit from a one-time compression of the image data can use RGB.

So, the devices that can afford it if more data is being used, will prefer the RGB signal. Also, RGB generates more vibrant colors as compared to YCbCr.

RGB is used by people who worry about their eyes being strained by display light. The RGB color space puts lesser strain on the eyes and is useful for use when the screen is used for a long time. This is not an absolute choice. Some YCbCr variants also come with a blue light filter.

Understanding the Difference Between YCbCr444 and RGB

The actual image is in RGB format. It is a combination of red, blue and green colors. YCbCr 4 is basically the conversion of RGB to three components. One component is of luminance and two are of chrominance. These three components also originate from the RGB.

As the luminance is calculated as a weighted combination of the colors red, green and blue. This yields Y. The other two components are a difference of the blue and red from this Y.

There is a concept of lossy and lossless compression that you might be familiar with. Lossy compression results in data loss while lossless does not loose the data. YCbCr 4 is basically a lossless compression of the RGB with full range.

Side by Side Comparison YCbCr and RGB

Why convert RGB to YCbCr?

The YCbCr saves bandwidth and the data loss does not really impact the quality of the resulting image. The Cb and Cr components of the YCbCr are limited to reduce the use of bandwidth.

As the new research proves that the eyes are less sensitive to the chrominance as they are to luminance, the data loss is bearable. This means that the eyes are quick to catch up to any change in the lighting but they are not as quick in detecting a change in color. So it is easy to get away with it.

However, these two technologies are essentially interchangeable and are being used appropriately by the devices. The devices know which technique to use when and are pretty good at making this decision.

Which one to choose? RGB vs YCbCr444?

The auto option of the device makes the right choice according to the build of that device.

However, if you are to choose between the two, understand that RGB is the traditional format for video while YCbCr is the consumer video format. YCbCr saves the bandwidth while RGB has more vibrant colours. However, with newer versions of YCbCr, it cannot be differentiated that much.

In a nutshell, if the device you are using has HDMI, then it is better that you choose YCbCr. If it is not HDMI then you might as well choose RGB. YCbCr is the optimal HDMI color setting for video signals as well.


Is RGB better than YCbCr?

RGB is the traditional video format. It means that the original format of the images is in RGB format. This format is then converted to YCbCr to yield better bandwidth and is the native format for the computers.

Which color space is better for gaming? YCbCr vs RGB for gaming

It depends on the devices you are using. But some gamers choose RGB over other options. It is because RGB can show the light and darkness of the scenes more accurately in a game. For professional video gamers, even the minutest details count.

Which color space puts less strain on the eyes?

Most gamers who are worried about their eyes use RGB supporting technologies. This is because RGB color space will put less strain on the eyes. But some YCbCr devices also have the blue light feature.

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Aman Singh

Thanks It helped me alot 🙂


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