I'd appreciate help in clearing up a bit of confusion on my part.
What, in simple terms, am I doing when in Photoshop I convert a file from 16 bits to 8 bits (Image>Mode>8 Bits/Channel) so that I can gain access to Photoshop's filters gallery?
Is it accurate to say that I'm reducing the file's capacity to be manipulated without creating artifacts? If so, is that so concerning color only or concerning tonality and other changes as well? (If the latter, it seems queer that so many of Photoshop's filters, which can radically transform an image, work only on 8-bit files.)
Is there any reason to be hesitant to convert to 8 bits, especially given that I retain the 16-bit Raw file? Is this more of an issue for images I plan to print than for images I plan to display online?
I've written Photoshop actions that include such conversions, and I'm concerned that with the click of a button I'm altering imagines in a way that I might regret later.
In short, is there any good reason not to covert a 16-bit image to 8 bit?