I have a GeoTIFF file which displays the following information when running gdalinfo:

Band 1 Block=10012x1 Type=Float32, ColorInterp=Gray
  Description = Layer_1
  Min=1638.991 Max=2577.040
  Minimum=1638.991, Maximum=2577.040, Mean=2063.003, StdDev=185.546
  NoData Value=-3.4028234663852886e+038

Based on this information, I understand that the minimum and maximum grayscale values are 1638.991 and 2577.040 respectively.

What I want to do is convert this GeoTIFF to a 16-bit PNG image which shows ~938 (2577-1638) different shades of gray. I'm attempting to achieve this with the following gdal_translate command:

"c:\Program Files\GDAL\gdal_translate.exe" -outsize 4096 4096 -of PNG -ot UInt16 -scale 1638.991 2577.040 0 65535 "GDAL_IMG_2_GeoTIFF.tif" "GDAL_IMG_2_GeoTIFF.png"

My understanding here is that -ot UInt16 allows me to create a 16-bit image and -scale 1638.991 2577.040 0 65535 re-maps the geoTIFF grayscale range to the full 16-bit range (0 - 65535).

This command does indeed produce what appears to be a 16-bit image however when viewing the image properties in irfanView, the Number of unique colors is showing as 256.

Full bit-depth info:

irfanView output

Is there any step that I have missed here for creating 16-bit PNG's which make use of > 256 shades of gray or perhaps a better method?


3 Answers 3


I took bugmenot123's advice and trusted the GDAL output rather than IrfanView which seems to have issues accurately showing bit depth. I double checked the PNG images in QGIS which showed the correct 16-bit range.


Perhaps you should update your gdal. Using version 2.4.0 I can generate 16bit PNGs with this command:

$ gdal_translate -of PNG -ot UInt16 -scale 32.53501 767.4913 0 65535 goes16.abi-2019.0902.1510-C01_1km.tif k.png

$ pngcheck k.png
OK: k.png (2574x1591, 16-bit grayscale, non-interlaced, 35.0%).

The original data is Float32.


Please have a look at convert.py module here

import os
from osgeo import gdal

def geotiff_to_png(input_path, output_path=None, return_object=False):
    Converts a GeoTIFF file to a PNG file or object. Specific to Skysatimages with 4 bands (blue, green, red, nir).

        input_path (str): The file path of the input GeoTIFF file.
        output_path (str, optional): The file path of the output PNG file. If not provided, PNG object is returned. Defaults to None.
        return_object (bool, optional): Whether to return the PNG data as an object. If True, the output_path parameter will be ignored. Defaults to False.

        numpy.ndarray or None: If output_path is not provided and return_object is True, returns a 3D numpy array representing the PNG image. Otherwise, returns None.

    # Open input file
    dataset = gdal.Open(input_path)
    output_types = [gdal.GDT_Byte, gdal.GDT_UInt16, gdal.GDT_Float32]
    # Define output format and options
    options = gdal.TranslateOptions(format='PNG', bandList=[3,2,1], creationOptions=['WORLDFILE=YES'], outputType=output_types[0])
    # Translate to PNG
    if output_path is not None:
        gdal.Translate(output_path, dataset, options=options)
        print(f'Successfully saved PNG file to {output_path}')
    # Return PNG object
    if return_object:
        mem_driver = gdal.GetDriverByName('MEM')
        mem_dataset = mem_driver.CreateCopy('', dataset, 0)
        png_data = mem_dataset.ReadAsArray()
        return png_data
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