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Convert YCbCr to RGB and Vice Versa Without Hustles

Eleanor Reed
Eleanor Reed Originally published Jan 08, 24, updated Jan 10, 24
rgb and ycbcr representation

Improving the quality of your image and video files requires a thorough understanding of the primary color spaces – YCbCr and RGB. These color spaces refer to the concrete, measurable color ranges and luminance values that a file (or your specific device) is capable of displaying.

They dictate the color saturation, shadow, and highlight details, as well as how well these elements can be retained and how compromised they can become when you’re reproducing color information on another device.

To ensure the utmost quality of your photos and videos regardless of the device they’re viewed on, you’ll need to learn how to convert YCbCr to RGB and vice versa. Check out how you can do just that.

In this article
    1. OpenCV
    2. Online Convert
    3. Picture to People
    1. Wondershare Repairit Online Photo Colorizer
    2. Palette

What Are YCbCr Color Spaces

representation of ycbcr color spaces

There are many different color spaces, and they all define colors differently. The YCbCr defines colors based on luminance (luma), aka the overall brightness. The “Y” stands for luma, while “Cb” stands for blue minus luma, and “Cr” for red minus luma.

The YCbCr format is able to separate the luma and chroma components, removing as much redundancy from your files as possible.

Considering that the human eye is more sensitive to brightness than colors, YCbCr prioritizes capturing brightness details and eliminates the somewhat unnecessary and redundant chroma details. That allows your device to compress your YCbCr files better and save you some storage space while keeping your videos and images as detailed as possible.

With this in mind, the YCbCr format can still produce a surprisingly wide color range, making it an excellent choice for printing presses, for instance.

YCbCr is also the native format for videos, used in DVD and Blu-Ray players, cable and satellite boxes, and RG turners.

RGB Color System Explained

representation of rgb color spaces

The RGB color system is likely one you’re more familiar with. Short for Red, Green, and Blue, the RGB color space is a system that uses these three colors in each screen pixel to display your photos and videos.

Unlike the YCbCr color space, RGB processes the colors and brightness simultaneously, so your files will take up more storage space.

Full RGB will have 255 levels on its color system – level 0 presents absolute black, while level 255 presents absolute white. Between level 1 and level 254, you’ll get the full spectrum of colors created by using different combinations of red, green, and blue.

The RGB system is most commonly used in computer displays, TVs, videography, photography, and more. It’s also the preferred color system for video games, web design, and digital media.

Connection Between YCbCr and RGB Colors

lines of colors

YCbCr and RGB are the primary color spaces that determine the colors your imaging system can represent – however, that’s where the connections between the two stop.

RGB represents all the colors as unique combinations of different levels of red, green, and blue. All three channels must be stored at full resolution, so your images and videos will be much heavier and take up more space.

YCbCr, on the other hand, separates the brightness and the colors, so you can always store brightness at a higher resolution for more detail and colors at a lower resolution since they won’t be fully visible to the human eye anyway.

How to Convert RGB Image to YCbCr

image with combined and separate y, cb, and cr components

If you want to add more details and preserve your photos and videos, converting RGB to YCbCr could just do the trick. To manually convert your files, you just need to follow this formula:

convert rgb to ycbcr formula

Of course, you could also use an RGB to YCbCr converter to simplify the process. We’ll get into the available tools in a minute.

How to Convert YCbCr to RGB

rgb representation

Considering that RGB is the more commonly used color space and that most devices use it as their native format, the chances are that you’ll need to perform a YCbCr to RGB conversion more often than the other way around.

To convert YCbCr to RGB, you’ll need to follow this formula:

convert ycbcr to rgb formula

Once again, you could use a YCbCr to RGB converter to simplify processes and avoid making mistakes.

Python Example of YCbCr to RGB Conversion

If you have a basic understanding of Python, converting between YCbCr and RGB is a seamless process. The only thing you’ll need to keep an eye on is that Python’s OpenCV uses BGR ordering, aka Blue, Green, Red, instead of the Red, Green, Blue order you might’ve grown accustomed to.

To convert RGB (aka BGR) to YCbCr, you’ll need to use the following code:

imgYCC = cv2.cvtColor(img, cv2.COLOR_BGR2YCR_CB)

Alternatively, to convert YCbCr to BGR, you simply need to reverse the order of your color spaces:

img_bgr = cv2.cvtColor(imgYCC, cv2.COLOR_YCrCb2BGR)

Is There a Tool for Converting YCbCr to RGB?

person editing a photo on their computer

You can convert YCbCr to RGB or vice versa using several different tools. The following are some of the most commonly used ones.

OpenCV

OpenCV is a Python library that enables you to process images without much fuss. It’s feature-packed, allowing you to take advantage of useful features like object detection, image processing, face recognition, and more.

Of course, it also enables you to convert YCbCr and RGB images with the utmost ease.

OpenCV pros:

  • Free to use;
  • Packed with useful features;
  • Low RAM usage.

OpenCV cons:

  • Requires understanding of Python.

As a general rule of thumb, OpenCV is considered the best tool for converting your images.

Online Convert

Online Convert lets you convert virtually any media file into almost any format. You can use it for any file type, from PDFs to audio files, documents, and, of course, images and videos.

It’s exceptionally easy to use and requires no prior understanding of image conversions, color spaces, and more.

Online Convert pros:

  • Beginner-friendly;
  • Drag-and-drop images to convert them;
  • Requires no software installation.

Online Convert cons:

  • You’ll need to upgrade to a paid version for larger files.

If you want to upgrade, Online Convert has several pricing plans:

  • Light – $6.99/month;
  • Basic – $11.99/month;
  • Unlimited – $26.99/month.

All the pricing plans are also available in annual subscription forms, making them more affordable in the long run.

Picture to People

Picture to People is another web-based converter that requires no software installation. It offers features such as logo creation, effect generation, frame maker, cartoonizer, and more.

It supports many color models, allowing you to seamlessly convert your RGB and YCbCr images.

Picture to People pros:

  • Lightweight;
  • Easy to navigate;
  • Fast.

Picture to People cons:

  • Doesn’t work if you have an ad blocker on.

Picture to People is free to use – all you have to do is sign up and create an account.

Available Color Tools

black and white photo of children hugging

YCbCr is essentially a grayscale image, and just like any grayscale or black-and-white image, you can use a wide array of tools to colorize it. The following are just some of the most popular ones.

Wondershare Repairit Online Photo Colorizer

Wondershare Repairit Online Photo Colorizer is a powerful solution that can make all your images look professional. It comes with many features, including AI photo enhancement, fully automatic photo colorization, photo repair, and more.

Wondershare Repairit Online Photo Colorizer pros:

  • Professional results;
  • Easy to use;
  • Advanced data security.

Wondershare Repairit Online Photo Colorizer cons:

  • Only 3 photo colorizations are available for free.

While you can test out the software without paying, if you want to use everything it has to offer, you’ll need to upgrade. It offers the following subscription plans:

  • Repairit Online Photo Colorizer:

Monthly plan – $9.99/month;

Yearly plan – $4.08/month.

IMG2GO

IMG2GO is a popular option for photo colorization. It has various features, including an AI art generator, background remover, photo editor, and more. It’s easy to use and efficient, though it can take a bit to get completely used to it.

IMG2GO pros:

  • AI-based tools;
  • Powerful photo editor;
  • Seamless image resizing.

IMG2GO cons:

  • A slight learning curve.

IMG2Go has a free Basic plan that you can use to colorize your images. If you want more from this tool, however, you’ll need to upgrade:

  • Starter – $6.50/month;
  • Pro – $22.25/month;
  • Ultimate – $68.50/month;
  • Enterprise – custom pricing.

Palette

Last but certainly not least is Palette. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, offering nothing more than photo colorization. However, this tool has all but perfected this task. The colors are made to look vibrant yet natural regardless of the photo quality.

Palette pros:

  • Perfected photo colorization;
  • Easy to use;
  • No confusing additional features.

Palette cons:

  • Slower than other solutions.

You can try Palette for free, but you’ll need to upgrade to a paid version if you want to colorize more than one photo:

  • Per photo – $1.99;
  • Annual plan – $6.00/month.

Conclusion

Converting YCbCr to RGB and vice versa can be confusing when you first get into it. However, it can work wonders for helping you improve the quality of your images, saving space, and reducing quality loss.

You’ll have many different tools for YCbCr to RGB conversions that can make the whole thing much easier. You’ll also have access to tools like Wondershare Repairit Online Photo Colorizer if you just need to add color to your images.

Eleanor Reed
Eleanor Reed Jan 10, 24
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