Surprise: Working 16-bit mode landing in GIMP!
This work by Richard Hirner is licensed under the Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported terms.
The last weeks in GIMP development have been more than productive. GIMP has got a working 16-bits per channel color mode! Yes, this is what most of you waited for. It is working and you can test it by yourself.
Michael Natterer (a main GIMP developer) and Øyvind Kolås (was mostly working on GEGL) have met to create one of those features people wanted for years: GIMP is now capable of creating/rendering/saving images with 16 bits per color channel. This great enhancement was developed in a separate branch (called goat-invasion) and has now been merged into the main source (master).
In the images, you can clearly see the differences and advantages between 8 and 16 bit/channel images. While the left image has super-smooth color transitions in the gradients, the right image suffers from the fact of not having enough colors available at once. All of that was created in GIMP using the normal UI.
The developers have not just brought us 16-bit integer precision, thanks to GEGL they made a step further – 32-bit per channel is also available as well as 16/32-bit floating point.
You can try it yourself! Just fetch the source code from the git repository and compile it to get your personal “goat invasion” on your hard drive. The new build has GEGL enabled, and you can use hardware accelerated rendering too with your OpenCL hardware.
Enjoy! (Please note that this feature is not in GIMP 2.8 but will come in GIMP 2.10! Much work has already be done.)
There is are feature or release plans for GIMP 2.10 yet, but the development cycle is going to be shortened.