AI Colorize Photo: Limitations and Appropriateness

ai colorize photo

A few years back, people might have had to manually convert grayscale or black-and-white photos to colored ones. And that was troublesome and time-consuming. Luckily, due to the development of the age, now everything has become easier, thanks to AI colorize photo.

With this technology, you only need one click to colorize black-and-white photos. We know that this advanced technology is helpful and looks promising. Unfortunately, this AI photo colorizer technology still has some limitations.

What are the limitations of AI photo colorization? In order to know the answer to this question, you can keep reading this post.

What is AI Colorize Photo?

Before knowing the limitations of this photo colorization technology. Let’s get into AI colorize photo first. What is AI Colorize Photo?

In short, AI photo colorization is a technology that uses an intelligent algorithm to turn grayscale photos into colored photos with just a single click.

Owing to this, AI colorize photo can be a wonderful tool for those of you who want to colorize any of your black-and-white family photos, photographs with your loved ones, your
favorite landscapes, and other grayscale photos.

If you are interested in colorizing your B&W photos, you can do so by using some software, an AI photo colorizer service, or a photo editing service.

The Limitation of AI Colorize Photo

Now we will talk about the limitations of AI colorize photo. In general, there are two limitations of AI colorization technology. Here are the explanations.

1. Inverse Problem

Just like most AI technologies out there, AI colorization technology also has issues in computer vision or what is commonly known as the inverse problem.

What is the inverse problem? It is a problem where AI has the limitation of not being able to recover high dimensional data of re-colored photos from its low dimensional representation of grayscale photos.

With this inverse problem, generally, the result of your re-colored photo is likely to be dull. In some cases, AI colorization does not succeed in producing very high-quality re-
colored photographs.

Indeed, this issue is a big deal for those of you who want high-quality colored photos.

2. Ill-Posed

Not only the inverse problem, but AI technology is also occasionally struggling to perform colorization due to the ill-posed issue. This is a nightmare due to the various “correct”
colors that come from the original grayscale photo.

For example, a black-and-white photo of a woman wearing a dress. This woman’s dress might be yellow, it might be blue, or it might come in other colors. No one knows because the
photo is merely in black and white.

Even in the black-and-white photo, there is no detailed information from the grayscale pixels about what color the woman’s dress is. For this reason, AI technology generally has to make its guesses about the color of this woman’s dress.

Ill-Posed Example from Sam Goree

For a better example, you might want to take a look at the image below from Sam Goree’s research concerning AI colorized photographs.

The photograph below was taken in color in 1943 by the photographer Alfred T. Palmer during his work for the US Government. This photo is preserved in the Library of Congress.

Ill-Posed Example from Sam Goree

In the example above, on the far left is an original photograph by Alfred T. Palmer. Moreover, the aforementioned photo has the caption “Operating a hand drill at Vultee-Nashville,
a woman is working on a ‘Vengeance’ dive bomber” (1943).

Then, in the center is a black-and-white version of the previous image that has been retouched by Sam Goree. Next, on the right is the result of the AI colorization that Sam Goree did use DeOldify AI.

You can see the results of AI colorization technology where this woman’s skin tone is lightened. In addition, her bandana is a shade of brown rather than red like the original and
her clothes look gray rather than navy blue.

The research that Sam Goree conducted above, proves that the AI colorization algorithm still has a limitation where it is unable to guess the original color of a black-and-white photo.

However, you may still be able to overcome this problem by using a photo color correction service.

Is AI Colorized Photo Disappointing?

For people who have a deep concern for color, the limitations that AI photo colorization has may seem quite disappointing.

As we know, humans love colors. We often choose the most appropriate color to portray the value and meaning we want to show. Sometimes, they look admirable when they choose clothes with the perfect color.

Besides, human colorists or people with a deep concern for colors may recognize which color makes more sense in a photo than AI photo colorization.

The reason is simple, these people can spot and understand the history and culture of a photo according to the year the photo was taken. With this, they can determine what color makes the most sense for those grayscale photos.

On the other hand, for people who want their grandparents’ black-and-white photographs to be colorized, the limitations of AI photo colorization are not a big deal. Because they can ask human colorists to help.

Does Using an AI Colorize Photo Still Worth It?

Absolutely still, you can still overcome the limitations of AI colorize photo with various photo editing services. Moreover, AI photo colorization technology is also an outstanding technology. Just imagine you can turn a black-and-white photo into color with just one click!

For an awesome colored close-up photo, you might be able to use a background removal service by Dropicts. All in all, using AI colorize photo is still worth your consideration.


  • What is AI colorization?
    AI colorization refers to the use of computerized algorithms to convert black-and-white photos to colorized ones.
  • How accurate is an AI colorize photo?
    Colorization has been carried out by various people, and sometimes not very accurately. The most common mistakes are changing the skin tone color to be inaccurate to the original photo color, or making other inaccuracies like changing the clothing or background color.
  • How long does AI technology colorize photos?
    Depending on the resolution of your photos, the colorization time process will vary. One thing for sure is you only need a single click to do colorization.
  • Should humans use AI colorizing technology to turn black and white photos?
    It depends on your needs. If you want an instant result for transforming a photo, the answer is yes. In contrast, you may avoid this technology because it may turn the photos too different from the actual ones.

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