The truth about colour space

Started Feb 14, 2012 | Discussions
brucet
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The truth about colour space
Feb 14, 2012

I've had a hick up with my printer which got me to reviewing my work flow and settings.

I shoot RAW and use Aftershot Pro, PSPx4 and Photomatix most of the time. I'm now about to include Qimage as a part of my work flow.

I've been reading everything I can about colour space and have come to the conclusion that everyone has a different opinion on what is best.

So my question is - I currently have everything set for sRGB. Is it worth the effort to change to Adobe colour space? I print A4 and A3, Epson 1410, at the moment and, except for an occasional gamut issue, am happy with the results.

I'm looking for answers with 'facts' and not just broad statements. (I know from a technical point of view the difference but does that difference actualy show in reality on a print?)

Regards

Sagittarius
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Re: The truth about colour space
In reply to brucet, Feb 14, 2012

brucet wrote:

I've had a hick up with my printer which got me to reviewing my work flow and settings.

I shoot RAW and use Aftershot Pro, PSPx4 and Photomatix most of the time. I'm now about to include Qimage as a part of my work flow.

I've been reading everything I can about colour space and have come to the conclusion that everyone has a different opinion on what is best.

So my question is - I currently have everything set for sRGB. Is it worth the effort to change to Adobe colour space? I print A4 and A3, Epson 1410, at the moment and, except for an occasional gamut issue, am happy with the results.

I'm looking for answers with 'facts' and not just broad statements. (I know from a technical point of view the difference but does that difference actualy show in reality on a print?)

Hi,

I have a wide gamut monitor and I see a difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB. And I also have Epson 1400 and prints from image in Adobe RGB look better. Since you shoot RAW you can change color space on the same image and print both to see a difference.

Regards

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Best regards

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Chris Noble
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You can avoid having to trade off aRGB vs sRGB
In reply to brucet, Feb 14, 2012

If you are printing, why would you not want the wider gamut of aRGB? As long as your PP monitor is wide gamut as well. Not clear what "facts" you are looking for.

I'm not familiar with the SW you are using. I use Lightroom, so the tradeoff you are wondering about never comes up. I shoot Raw, the Lightroom color space is Pro Photo RGB, and I output "down" to aRGB to print and sRGB for the web.

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brucet
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Re: You can avoid having to trade off aRGB vs sRGB
In reply to Chris Noble, Feb 14, 2012

Thanks.

The 'facts' I'm looking for is for something other than 'X is better than y'. Back up the statement with experience.

Another question I forgot.
Adobe.
Adobe (1998).
NKAdobe.

What are the differnces?

Regads

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Deleted1929
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Re: The truth about colour space
In reply to brucet, Feb 14, 2012

As your question relates specifically to printing it boils down to this : can you print the wider gamut ?

If you can print the wider gamut then use it. If you can't ( or don't want to ) then don't.

But what gamut you can print depends on on inks and paper, so it's quite difficult to answer you in any way apart from broadly.

This link may help you, although I would suggest not taking any one article as gospel.

http://people.csail.mit.edu/ericchan/dp/Epson3800/gamuts.html

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StephenG

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WineO
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Re: The truth about colour space
In reply to brucet, Feb 14, 2012

My opinion and experience is that for all printed output that I do Adobe RGB gives me better results and I get better results from my PP with Adobe RGB. Neither my monitor nor my printer can show Prophoto (an even wider gamut) so I don't use it though I would like to have that option visible.
Claude

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AlanPezz
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Re: The truth about colour space
In reply to WineO, Feb 14, 2012

I have a Dell computer and recently calibrated the monitor with a Spyder 4. My monitor displays 98% of the SRGB space and 77% of the ARGB space. The information provided by the Spyder calibration indicates that ther are some colors in the SRGB space that my monitor cannot display and there are some colors out of the SRGB space that I can see. Any out of gamut colors are clipped by my montor.

Printer gamuts are approximately the SRGB color space. Whenever the image you capture with your camera contains highly saturated colors they will not display on your monitor and will not be printed.

If you have software that performs color management (CS5) you have some control of how the larger gamut will be converted to the smaller gamut. There are basically two choices. Clip the out of gamut colors and display them as the nearest in gamut color leaveing all in gamut colors as they are, or bring the out of gamut colors in gamut and desaturate all in gamut colors to maintain a similar look. In CS5 you can also soft proof which will show on your monitor (as best it can) what your printed image will look like. You can edit the soft proofed image to manually bring the out of gamut colors in gamut yourself. If you don't have color management then the choice of how the out of gamut colors are handled will be made for you when you send the file to the printer.

If you have a large gamut monitor it is probably worth while to edit in ARGB. If you have a normal monitor or are not using color management you are flying blind as far as what you are editing and what will come back from the printer. You might be better off with editing in SRGB.

Alan

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Pictus
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Re: The truth about colour space
In reply to brucet, Feb 14, 2012

Got to http://www.iccview.de/content/view/3/7/lang,en/
load the printer profile against the color spaces to know the answer.

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joey_B
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Re: The truth about colour space
In reply to brucet, Feb 14, 2012

In theory, sRGB as well as AdobeRGB cannot represent colors that are possible creating by printing. But then again, a printer cannot represent all colors that are possible on a monitor.

Again, in theory, you want a space that is so big it can comprise all tones for the printer as well as the monitor, so that it can remap colors between the two. In RGB, one space that is big enough for that is ProPhoto RGB. But you have to be very much aware that a color that doesn't show up on your monitor might show up on your printer and vice versa.

If you set it up like that, use good color profiles, and use soft proofing to see where the 'out of gamut' colors are.

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Chris Noble
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Printers vs. monitors and aRGB vs. sRGB
In reply to joey_B, Feb 14, 2012

a printer cannot represent all colors that are possible on a monitor.

I thought printer gamuts were bigger than monitor gamuts (unless it is a wide-gamut monitor), which is why aRGB is a bigger gamut than sRGB?

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Wayne Larmon
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Seeing is believing
In reply to Pictus, Feb 14, 2012

Pictus wrote:

Got to http://www.iccview.de/content/view/3/7/lang,en/
load the printer profile against the color spaces to know the answer.

Do what Pictus said. It is a total waste of time to try to make any decision about color spaces until you have compared profile gamuts and color spaces as 3D plots. Those little dinky 2D gamut plots you sometimes see leave out a lot of important information. I just don't understand long drawn discussions about color spaces without referencing actual gamut plots. You don't discuss pictures without looking at them. Why are color spaces and gamut sizes any different?

Yes, you will probably have to install a plugin to see the 3D gamut plots. Do it--seeing 3D gamut plots is well worth the minor detour.

Dry Creek Photo has more 3D gamuts

Printer, Camera, and Scanner Color Gamut Comparisons
http://www.drycreekphoto.com/tools/printer_gamuts/

Wayne

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Chris Noble
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a vs. sRGB: Theory vs. real-world
In reply to Wayne Larmon, Feb 14, 2012

It is a total waste of time to try to make any decision about color spaces until you have compared profile gamuts and color spaces as 3D plots.

I think the OP's question is whether it makes a significant difference in the way real photographs actually look to the viewer. It is a valid question.

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Deleted1929
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Printers don't have gamuts
In reply to Chris Noble, Feb 14, 2012

Paper and Ink combinations have different gamuts. Printers are just devices for putting the one on the other.

It's important to keep this in mind because while one combination of ink and paper may exceed Adobe RGB, another may be smaller than sRGB. You need profiles to match the combination you print to.

People also ought to target the gamut they intend to print to. Use the proofing tool to check you don't exceed it. Working in huge colour spaces is fine, but it's also not matching the final image to the intended medium. You can very easily produce colours and tones that simply won't be properly displayed. It's important to accept the limits of your display medium, and not just work to some abstract space like Pro Photo.

By the way, Pro Photo is a gamut that's larger than the typical LAB gamut. A better large gamut space is Bruce Lindbloom's Beta RGB.

http://www.brucelindbloom.com/index.html?WorkingSpaceInfo.html

http://www.brucelindbloom.com/index.html?BetaRGB.html

There are many others which exceed what you can print or display and make good working spaces. I think that ProPhoto is simply too large to be useful, whereas the Adobe RGB space makes a lot more sense for most people.

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StephenG

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Toermalijn
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Re: Printers vs. monitors and aRGB vs. sRGB
In reply to Chris Noble, Feb 14, 2012

Absolutely not! cmyk is a smaller gamut then sRGB. sRGB is the smallest colour gamut possible on a good monitor, so the difference only gets bigger with different colour gamuts like RGB or aRGB or even LAB.

Chris Noble wrote:

a printer cannot represent all colors that are possible on a monitor.

I thought printer gamuts were bigger than monitor gamuts (unless it is a wide-gamut monitor), which is why aRGB is a bigger gamut than sRGB?

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brucet
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Re: Printers vs. monitors and aRGB vs. sRGB
In reply to Toermalijn, Feb 14, 2012

Thanks everyone.

I guess my issue is that at the moment everything is set to sRGB. My systems has a mix of Adobe. NKAdobe. Adobe (1998) etc. So is switching to Adobe simply a matter of making everything 'Adobe' or is it not as easy as that?

Unless I can see a noticable difference I'll stay safe and stay with what I have.

Thanks.

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Toermalijn
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Re: Printers vs. monitors and aRGB vs. sRGB
In reply to brucet, Feb 15, 2012

Only colour aware applications can use the colour profiles made by a colorimeter.

You can set the colour gamut to RGB in windows, but your safest bet is sRGB for now.
Unless you can match the printer with the monitor and use those profiles.

brucet wrote:

Thanks everyone.

I guess my issue is that at the moment everything is set to sRGB. My systems has a mix of Adobe. NKAdobe. Adobe (1998) etc. So is switching to Adobe simply a matter of making everything 'Adobe' or is it not as easy as that?

Unless I can see a noticable difference I'll stay safe and stay with what I have.

Thanks.

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joey_B
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Re: Printers vs. monitors and aRGB vs. sRGB
In reply to Toermalijn, Feb 15, 2012

Toermalijn wrote:

Absolutely not! cmyk is a smaller gamut then sRGB. sRGB is the smallest colour gamut possible on a good monitor, so the difference only gets bigger with different colour gamuts like RGB or aRGB or even LAB.

It is a bit smaller in 'surface area', allright, but the problem is that a CMYK profile doesn not 'fit' nicely into an sRGB or aRGB space. As said, compare the 3D-colorprofiles and see where they don't match.

And for Toermalijn, L*ab is not a colorspace, it is a colorSYSTEM like the L*uv, Hunter, XYZ or the HSL system. Within such a system you can map out spaces for different devices. sRGB is such a device-colorspace (a generic monitor profile), aRGB also (a wider profile for better monitors), as is ProPhoto. What we know as the RGB colorsystem is an agreement on what absolute color is represented by a set of RGB numbers. Any device should display this color when you ask for those numbers, and THAT is why we calibrate.

L*ab is an absolute system that is not 'device' related. It can describe colors that cannot be represented on any medium, and even fictional colors. It's roughly similar to the L*uv or XYZ system that is mostly used as the 'box' to represent color profiles in.

So you have an absolute colorsystem (the box), and in there you can map the device specific colorspace you are using to compare that with other devices, and 'translate' colors from one device to the other. That is because R:100 G:120 B:5 will stand for a different color on any screen you view it on.

http://www.easyrgb.com/index.php?X=CALC

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Simon Garrett
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Is your work flow colour managed?
In reply to brucet, Feb 15, 2012

Is everything in your system colour-managed?

That is:

  1. your monitor is calibrated and profiled (with a hardware tool - Spyder, Colormunki or similar)

  2. you have profiles for your printer

  3. you use colour-managed programs (programs that respect image profiles, monitor profile and printer profiles)

Unless all three are true then (IMHO) you are best sticking to sRGB. Otherwise you are likely to get colour mismatches between monitor and printer.

If everything is colour-managed then you may benefit from a wider colour space but always convert to sRGB before uploading images to the web (as most people don't use colour management).

If you're not familiar with colour management, I suggest reading up a bit. I wrote a cheat-sheet at http://www.simongarrett.co.uk/ColourManagementCheatSheet.htm which includes lots of links to other sites I've found useful.
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Toermalijn
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Re: Printers vs. monitors and aRGB vs. sRGB
In reply to joey_B, Feb 15, 2012

Yes, while that is true LAB has a larger colour gamut then cmyk, so my story still stands. LAB has the largest possible colour gamut, hence for PP some things are possible that are not possible in other colour spaces/gamuts.

Find a colourspace that fits the cmyk space as close as possible.

joey_B wrote:

Toermalijn wrote:

Absolutely not! cmyk is a smaller gamut then sRGB. sRGB is the smallest colour gamut possible on a good monitor, so the difference only gets bigger with different colour gamuts like RGB or aRGB or even LAB.

It is a bit smaller in 'surface area', allright, but the problem is that a CMYK profile doesn not 'fit' nicely into an sRGB or aRGB space. As said, compare the 3D-colorprofiles and see where they don't match.

And for Toermalijn, L*ab is not a colorspace, it is a colorSYSTEM like the L*uv, Hunter, XYZ or the HSL system. Within such a system you can map out spaces for different devices. sRGB is such a device-colorspace (a generic monitor profile), aRGB also (a wider profile for better monitors), as is ProPhoto. What we know as the RGB colorsystem is an agreement on what absolute color is represented by a set of RGB numbers. Any device should display this color when you ask for those numbers, and THAT is why we calibrate.

L*ab is an absolute system that is not 'device' related. It can describe colors that cannot be represented on any medium, and even fictional colors. It's roughly similar to the L*uv or XYZ system that is mostly used as the 'box' to represent color profiles in.

So you have an absolute colorsystem (the box), and in there you can map the device specific colorspace you are using to compare that with other devices, and 'translate' colors from one device to the other. That is because R:100 G:120 B:5 will stand for a different color on any screen you view it on.

http://www.easyrgb.com/index.php?X=CALC

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BJN
BJN
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Do your really understand color spaces?
In reply to brucet, Feb 15, 2012

Most printers and certainly Epson inkjet printers have a wider gamut than sRGB. If you work in that space, you lose color range that your printer can reproduce. You need a display that can display a wider color gamut than sRGB to properly preview whatever wider gamut you would like to work with.

So yes, wide gamut has real benefits in terms of expanded color rendition and reproduction — as long as you have the necessary hardware and workflow.

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