Age old digital camera question: SRGB or Adobe RGB

Started Aug 11, 2014 | Discussions thread
MiraShootsNikon Contributing Member • Posts: 903
One word: latitude.

Stacey_K wrote:

AlephNull wrote:

LMCasey wrote:

Shoot raw, and open in Prophoto. Once ready to post to web or to print, convert to the appropriate color space (sRGB for web, and appropriate colorspace for your printer).

Because Prophoto is a larger gamut, the steps between values are larger.

Which = greater chance for posterization. I don't get why using a color space way larger than any colors in the image is preached as being the best path. A smaller color space will have finer graduations between each color.

Here's why: latitude.

If you manipulate hue, saturation, or luminance from RAW yourself, you may end up pushing or pulling bits of data from the wider gamut your camera sensor captured into the area that would be covered by the smaller gamut (say, sRGB) in which you'd prefer to output. (Your camera certainly does this when processing sRGB JPEGs itself.) If you throw out the wider range of captured data from the start of your own RAW process, then there's less data with which to edit, ergo less latitude.

It's a little bit like dynamic range. A monitor or a print can only display 8 stops, but your camera's sensor captures 11, 12, 13 so that you (or the camera, if it's doing its own JPEG processing) can more flexibly manipulate the 8 stops we can actually show. That's why you can pull up shadows or recover highlights with RAW, or why your camera can pull off JPEG processing routines like active D-Lighting: you're pushing captured bits of information from above or below the 8 stops you might ordinarily display into that 8 stop range. If you try to pull up shadows, recover highlights, or just manipulate contrast in any convincing way with an 8-stop processed JPEG, it won't work as well because there's less data to use.

With color spaces, you can very easily conduct an experiment to see this phenomena with your own eyes.

(1) Shoot a JPEG in sRGB and lean hard on the hue slider of your choice in Lightroom or Photoshop. For example, push green tones into yellow. Output.

(2) Shoot RAW and lean equally hard on the same hue slider in ACR. Output as an sRGB JPEG.

(3) Compare your two JPEGs. Even though they're both now 8-bit sRGB JPEGs, I guarantee (2) will have smoother gradations and, overall, will appear a much more convincing edit.

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