In digital photography, computer-generated imagery, and colorimetry, a grayscale or image is one in which the value of each pixel is a single sample representing only an amount of light; that is, it carries only intensity information. Grayscale images, a kind of black-and-white or gray monochrome, are composed exclusively of shades of gray. The contrast ranges from black at the weakest intensity to white at the strongest.
Grayscale images are distinct from one-bit bi-tonal black-and-white images, which, in the context of computer imaging, are images with only two colors: black and white (also called bilevel or binary images). Grayscale images have many shades of gray in between.
Grayscale images can be the result of measuring the intensity of light at each pixel according to a particular weighted combination of frequencies (or wavelengths), and in such cases they are monochromatic proper when only a single frequency (in practice, a narrow band of frequencies) is captured. The frequencies can in principle be from anywhere in the electromagnetic spectrum (e.g. infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, etc.).
A colorimetric (or more specifically photometric) grayscale image is an image that has a defined grayscale colorspace, which maps the stored numeric sample values to the achromatic channel of a standard colorspace, which itself is based on measured properties of human vision.
If the original color image has no defined colorspace, or if the grayscale image is not intended to have the same human-perceived achromatic intensity as the color image, then there is no unique mapping from such a color image to a grayscale image.