How to get bit depth of a bitmap image

I have images where I want to know the bit depth of the .bmp image. This is quite easy in windows manually (Properties>Details..) but there doesn’t seem to much from google on it and the one answer I saw on here didn’t (for me) show how to do it.

How to find the Bit Depth of an image


import png as png
import numpy as np

r=png.Reader(filename = r'C:UserspriperDesktopOPW_refacgrayscale.png')
a =



from PIL import Image
import numpy as np

#Load the BMP file    
img ='C:UserspriperDesktopOPW_refacHSS All As.bmp')
print(img, 'n')
print('bit depth :', img.mode)#this only tells me it is 8 pixels, I don't think it could tell me if it was 4.

#Or as a numpy array
img = np.array('C:UserspriperDesktopOPW_refacHSS All As.bmp'))

I can read the bit depth of a png but haven’t a clue which library can get similar information so easily from a bmp.


You would probably be better off with a proper library, like wand or exiftool, but if you want something lightweight, this might be good enough – but I can’t test it on your images as you haven’t shared any:

#!/usr/bin/env python3

import sys
import struct

# Read first 100 bytes
with open('a.bmp','rb') as f:
    BMP =

if BMP[0:2] != b'BM':
   sys.exit('ERROR: Incorrect BMP signature')

BITMAPINFOHEADERSIZE = struct.unpack('<i',BMP[14:18])[0]
okSizes = [40, 52, 56, 108, 124]
   sys.exit(f'ERROR: BITMAPINFOHEADER size was {BITMAPINFOHEADERSIZE}, expected one of {okSizes}')

# Get bits per pixel
bpp = struct.unpack('<H',BMP[28:30])[0]
print(f'bbp: {bpp}')

I created a sample BMP with ImageMagick like this:

magick -size 32x32 xc:red -define bmp:subtype=RGB565  a.bmp

I then ran my script and got bpp:16 matching exiftool output:

exiftool a.bmp

ExifTool Version Number         : 12.00
File Name                       : a.bmp
Directory                       : .
File Size                       : 2.1 kB
File Modification Date/Time     : 2021:02:24 12:01:51+00:00
File Access Date/Time           : 2021:02:24 12:01:52+00:00
File Inode Change Date/Time     : 2021:02:24 12:01:51+00:00
File Permissions                : rw-r--r--
File Type                       : BMP
File Type Extension             : bmp
MIME Type                       : image/bmp
BMP Version                     : Windows V5
Image Width                     : 32
Image Height                    : 32
Planes                          : 1
Bit Depth                       : 16           <--- HERE IT IS
Compression                     : Bitfields
Image Length                    : 2048
Pixels Per Meter X              : 0
Pixels Per Meter Y              : 0
Num Colors                      : Use BitDepth
Num Important Colors            : All
Red Mask                        : 0x0000f800
Green Mask                      : 0x000007e0
Blue Mask                       : 0x0000001f
Alpha Mask                      : 0x00000000
Color Space                     : sRGB
Rendering Intent                : Picture (LCS_GM_IMAGES)
Image Size                      : 32x32
Megapixels                      : 0.001

I then created a 24-bit BMP like this:

magick -size 32x32 xc:red a.bmp

and both my Python and exiftool report 24 bpp.

Keywords: Python. BMP, image processing, get depth, bit-depth, bpp.