I assumed that Image and ImageData are inverses, so that the following expression gives back the original image.


But that doesn't work. Why?

  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "it doesn't work"? Image[ImageData[ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}]]] works fine... $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2016 at 19:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Actually Image[ImageData[ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}]]] == ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}] returns false. If you look at FullForm you see the image color representation has changed from interger to float. $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Feb 26, 2016 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ If you use for example a black 24-bit Bitmap image, then what you will get back is a blue image. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2016 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ I colud have sworn this is a duplicate or at least thoroughly discussed in another question but can't find it. $\endgroup$
    – William
    Feb 27, 2016 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ Strongly related: "ImageType used by ImageData." $\endgroup$ Feb 27, 2016 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


I would guess it's something to do with the ImageType.

img1 = ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}];
img2 = Image[ImageData[ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}]]];    
img1 == img2
(* False *)
(* Byte *)    
(* Real *)

However, trying the following doesn't seem to help:

img3 = Image[
   ImageData[ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}], "Byte"], "Byte"];
(* Byte *)    
img3 == img1
(* False *)

But the following (courtesy of @george2079) does work! It must be related to the default option for Image being the following, rather than RGB, so the original colorspace is not preserved.

ColorSpace -> Automatic treats values as arbitrary channel intensities

img4 = Image[
  ImageData[ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}], "Byte"], "Byte", 
  ColorSpace -> "RGB"]
img1 == img4
(* True *)

Hence the following code from @Kuba should work generally:

Image[ImageData[#, ImageType[#]], ImageType[#], Options[#]] &[img1]
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ puzzled myself.. this gets it back: Image[ImageData[ExampleData[{"TestImage", "Mandrill"}], "Byte"], "Byte", ColorSpace -> "RGB"] $\endgroup$
    – george2079
    Feb 26, 2016 at 20:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ probably more general: img1 === Image[ImageData[#, ImageType[#]], ImageType[#], Options[#]] &[img1] $\endgroup$
    – Kuba
    Feb 26, 2016 at 20:08
  • $\begingroup$ Shouldn't the ColorSpace of RGB provide only 3 parameters? A black bmp image mentioned above comes with a ColorSpace of RGB, but the ImageData looks like {{0,0,0,255},{0,0,0,255}...}. What does the 4th parameter do? $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2016 at 20:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AntonAlice It denotes the transparency, or "alpha" value. $\endgroup$ Feb 26, 2016 at 20:46

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