In the list of raster pixel data types that are available with GDAL, the "smallest" types are Bytes, UInt16 and Int16. I would like to store integers from 0 to 100 in the smallest image type, but with the constraint of using -1 and -2 for NoData value and other specific value. GDAL Bytes are unsigned, so the smallest type would be Int16. http://www.gdal.org/gdal_8h.html#a22e22ce0a55036a96f652765793fb7a4

I use this type to create rasters, with the Rasterize function in Python bindings.

Do you know if there is a trick to use signed Bytes ?

2 Answers 2


If you want to use signed 8bit integers for GeoTIFFs use datatype Byte together with creation options PIXELTYPE=SIGNEDBYTE


gdal_translate -ot Byte -a_nodata -1 -co PIXELTYPE=SIGNEDBYTE input.tif output.tif


This is an interesting problem. To my knowledge, GDAL does not support interpretation of signed 8-bit data. Even raster formats that can handle signed bytes SDAT, for instance are coerced to handle GDT_Byte I think...

The obvious solution to your underlying problem is to use a nodata value like 255 if you really care about the file storage size. Otherwise use a signed 16-bit image and some compression if the format supports it. You may find it plenty suitable.

  • Thanks a lot for your answer. I actually used a 16bit image, but due to the large size I guess we'll switch to Bytes with 255 for NoData, which is the simplest way. Anyway, it would be an interesting feature for future of GDAL to have signed Bytes !
    – gvatin
    Jan 25, 2018 at 15:29

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