Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

Started Jul 23, 2010 | Discussions
Jimmy Lai
Jimmy Lai Regular Member • Posts: 411
Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

Color Space – sRGB or Adobe RGB – which do you prefer? And Why? sRGB seems to be the default setting on all the cameras.

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Mithandir Senior Member • Posts: 1,766
If you have to ask ...

use sRGB.

Adobe RGB does have some advantages, but only if you really really know what you're doing, are intending to have your work professionally printed and you have a monitor worth several thousand to do your PP on.
--
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John King
John King Forum Pro • Posts: 14,941
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

Gidday Jimmy

Jimmy Lai wrote:

Color Space – sRGB or Adobe RGB – which do you prefer? And Why? sRGB seems to be the default setting on all the cameras.

The colour space is irrelevant if you are shooting RAW. JPEGs have a colour profile, as do TIFFs; RAW files have no colour space (or WB ... ) until one is assigned in processing the RAW into an image file.

I shoot aRGB because the sRGB is deficient in the green part of the spectrum (for my OoC JPEGs). Any that get uploaded to the web get converted to sRGB ...

For RAWs, I process these into ProPhotoRGB (or ROMM RGB), 16 bit colour space, then PP in PSD-16.

The colours in the final print are quite amazingly better, with richer tonal depth and nuances of tone than either JPEGs or even PP using an 8 bit colour space, even when lossless (e.g. TIFF-8, PSD-8).

I use a 19" calibrated Philips CRT monitor, and I am yet to see a panel monitor that's as good ... Printers use sRGB, 8 bit, CMYK. I use paper-specific ICC profiles within PS, and let PS manage the colour conversion from ProPhotoRGB to sRGB, RGB to CMYK and 16 bit to 8 bit. I reckon that PS will do this better than the printer driver can (it does ... ).

BTW, ProPhotoRGB-16 is capable of handling a colour space (gamut) that is far greater than the human eye can see. aRGB is nearly as great as the human eye. sRGB doesn't come close, but still better than some others still in use ...

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Regards, john from Melbourne, Australia.
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ljmac Senior Member • Posts: 2,915
Exactly (n/t)

no text

Mike_PEAT Forum Pro • Posts: 12,868
First off most monitors don't show all colours, sRGB or aRGB!

Jimmy Lai wrote:

Color Space – sRGB or Adobe RGB – which do you prefer? And Why? sRGB seems to be the default setting on all the cameras.

If you own an inexpensive LCD monitor (aka a TN panel, which are 95% of the monitors on the market including those on laptops) you should know that you are only seeing 6bits of each red, green, and blue sRGB colourspace rather than the full 8bits of each colour...this is done in order to speed up the monitor so that you don't get ghosting in games and movies, which most computer monitors are used for.

To see all 8bits of the sRGB colour space you need a more expensive IPS panel LCD monitor (which is great for editing images but not so great for fast action games and movies). But that's the sRGB colourspace, not the larger AdobeRGB colourspace...to be able to see that you need a wide-gamut monitor panel which is even more money.

Printers, most consumer printers including those used by stores that do printing for you like Costco, etc. are optimized for the sRGB colourspace, since that's what most people will use. Yes printers don't use RGB but instead use CMYK, but it's still optimized for sRGB. Unless you get a high-end printer, or you go to a professional service bureau that is aimed at professional photographers, your AdobeRGB prints may not look right.

The Internet runs on sRGB...if you plan to post online you should do it in sRGB as most browsers don't have colour profiles, but are again optimized for sRGB colourspace. Newer browsers can read embedded profiles, but ONLY if the user has switched that feature on...many don't know about it.

Here's a page that shows you what happens when you post an AdobeRGB image online:
http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/adobe-rgb.htm

Jimmy Lai
OP Jimmy Lai Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

Thanks: Mithandir;John and Mike_Peat.

Very knowledgable and detailed information, greatly appreciated. Thanks you all.

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ginsbu Senior Member • Posts: 1,420
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

Just a few additions to what's been said:

Most printing services you're likely to use are sRGB based, e.g. my service of choice AdoramaPix. Normally you'll want to output sRGB for printing, and this is also what you'll want to the web.

That said, there is real advantage in processing in a larger color space than your output space. However, as I understand it, AdobeRGB isn't so much larger than sRGB to gain much advantage here if you're outputting to sRGB color space for RGB (not CMYK) devices. As John suggests, you're better off shooting in RAW and processing in a program which supports one of the very large color spaces like ProPhotoRGB. LR and Aperture both fit the bill here.

My preferred course is to shoot RAW + sRGB JPEG. That way I have a web and print ready JPEG (I don't normally print CMYK), and a RAW file for flexibility. For anything more than minor PP, I'll go back to the RAW. If you regularly print in CMYK and don't want to go back to the RAW file to do so, you might want to make the JPEG AdobeRGB and convert to sRGB using the ICC profile for your printer and paper type.

I dare say that, more important than working in larger color spaces, is working within a color calibrated workflow as much as possible: calibrate your monitor and use ICC profiles from your printing services.

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Jimmy Lai
OP Jimmy Lai Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

ginsbu wrote:

Just a few additions to what's been said:

Hi Ginsbu, Thanks for the information, very helpful, greatly appreciated.--jimmy

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(unknown member) Veteran Member • Posts: 9,549
AdobeRGB

If I am using Olympus master or Viewer to process the raw file, I often change it to AdobeRGB. I know sFGB is supposed to be better for the web , but to me the AdobeRGB from those programs looks better, more saturated and contrasty, and it seems to stay with the file even if I later use Lightroom to output it at Srgb (if I save a Tiff from Viewer for further processing, for instance). So now I've changed my camera to AdobeRGB, to make things simpler.

Try it yourself and see what you prefer.

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John Krumm
Juneau, AK

Jimmy Lai
OP Jimmy Lai Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: AdobeRGB

I use Photoshop but I will try. Thanks for the information.

jkrumm wrote:

If I am using Olympus master or Viewer to process the raw file, I often change it to AdobeRGB. I know sFGB is supposed to be better for the web , but to me the AdobeRGB from those programs looks better, more saturated and contrasty, and it seems to stay with the file even if I later use Lightroom to output it at Srgb (if I save a Tiff from Viewer for further processing, for instance). So now I've changed my camera to AdobeRGB, to make things simpler.

Try it yourself and see what you prefer.

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John Krumm
Juneau, AK

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John King
John King Forum Pro • Posts: 14,941
Another vote for Adobe RGB

Gidday Jimmy

Jimmy Lai wrote:

Color Space – sRGB or Adobe RGB – which do you prefer? And Why? sRGB seems to be the default setting on all the cameras.

Reading the various replies to your question, all contain good info and suggestions.

Since my elbow is feeling better than it has been for several weeks (I hurt it rather badly ... ), I will expand on what I, and others, have said.

A RAW file is not an image file. This cannot be stressed highly enough. It is a data container that stores the data about the camera, its sensor, the Colour Filter Array (CFA), all the EXIF info about the lens, f-stop, FL, shutter speed, etc - this is all stored as metadata (metadata = data about data). The RAW file also contains the actual data values recorded by each and every pixel on the sensor for that exposure.

None of this data is interpreted by the camera in any way; it is just written out to the memory card as the raw data - hence the name "RAW".The fact that all this data about the image is stored separately allows a program such as Photoshop to then translate this into an image, which is then saved as an image file in the chosen format. PS and your computer have a whole lot of processing 'grunt' that a camera cannot possibly have, regardless of make or model. Even so, I am constantly amazed at the performance of modern cameras, just in processing this amount of data along the data path to the card ... regardless of in-built buffering.

Every time you change a colour profile of an image file (JPEG, TIFF, PSD, etc, etc - there are literally hundreds of different image file formats ... ), it involves re-mapping one colour number to another colour number. Most likely, the new colour number will already be used by an existing colour in that image. This means that where you originally had two colours, you now have only one. You have lost data! This also applies to every other edit you do to an image file .

With a JPEG, you have far less data to start with, so any data loss is likely to degrade the image. The simple fact of the matter is that when you are working on a file that is not, and never has been, compressed using a lossy algorithm, you have far more data to start with (All JPEGs and some RAW files ... not Olympus RAW files, however).

When a 12 bit RAW file is mapped into a 16 bit colour space, there is far more latitude for editing before one combines multiple colours into one colour. Also, some processing of the RAW file is completely free of data loss (e.g. setting the WB - a RAW file does not have a WB until one is assigned to it; or assigning a colour space, ditto). If a RAW file is mapped into an 8 bit colour space, data will be lost. This will impact some photographs more than others, but will always occur.

For reference, the following bit depths allow for the numbers of colours for each R-G-B channel:

  • 8 bit = 2^8 = 256 colours per channel (sometimes referred to as "24 bit colour")

  • 12 bit = 2^12 = 4,096 colours per channel

  • 16 bit = 2^16 = 65,536 colours per channel (sometimes referred to as "48 bit colour")

It is also possible to easily process one RAW file in multiple ways and then combine the results using layers.

Just as one example of all this: When I have scanned film using my film scanner, the 16 bit, 2700 dpi scans look better than the 8 bit, 5400 dpi at first glance ... It appears that the colour depth is even more important than the resolution. I usually use 16 bit, 5400 dpi however, as this gives better results than either of the other two ... . The film scanner is a true colour scanner, having separate R-G-B scan heads. It also comes with excellent software. This latter is where cheaper scanners often fall down badly.

My uploaded JPEGs start out as aRGB SHQ/LSF OoC JPEGs (I shoot RAW + JPEG), except for my E-30 where they are LF JPEGs.

I select the images I want in Bridge. They are then sent to a batch PS action that applies a standard USM of 30%, 2.0 pixel radius, converts to sRGB, resized to 1024 x 768 (using the PS Bicubic Sharper algorithm), then saves with a filename suffix of "_Ew" so that I know what has been done to it in my upload folder. I then upload all images using the Windows XP Uploader, changing all the defaults in that program when I do so ... I have never discovered where the XP Uploader hides its default values (anyone know?).

Hope this is of some further benefit to you ... ;).

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Regards, john from Melbourne, Australia.
(see profile for current gear)
Please do not embed images from my web site without prior permission
I consider this to be a breach of my copyright.
-- -- --

The Camera doth not make the Man (or Woman) ...
Perhaps being kind to cats, dogs & children does ...

Gallery: http://canopuscomputing.com.au/gallery2/main.php

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factotum Regular Member • Posts: 262
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

If you're shooting to sell a photo, use the color space preferred by your buyer or agent. If you're shooting for yourself, shoot whichever looks better to you. If you don't kinow if whether you may sell it or not, shoot RAW, and you can change it in RAW processing if you need to.

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Jimmy Lai
OP Jimmy Lai Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: Another vote for Adobe RGB

John King wrote:

Hope this is of some further benefit to you ... ;).

Thanks John, the information is very helpful. Greatly appreciated.
Hoping your elbow fully recovery soom. Thanks very much.-----jimmy

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Jimmy Lai
OP Jimmy Lai Regular Member • Posts: 411
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

factotum wrote:

If you're shooting to sell a photo, use the color space preferred by your buyer or agent. If you're shooting for yourself, shoot whichever looks better to you. If you don't kinow if whether you may sell it or not, shoot RAW, and you can change it in RAW processing if you need to.

Thanks for the tip. appreciated.-----jimmy

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Timskis6 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,562
Here you go:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1004&message=35593174

Read slowly.

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Klarno
Klarno Veteran Member • Posts: 4,146
Re: Color Space - sRGB or Adobe RGB

If I capture a JPEG on my camera, it's sRGB. RAW doesn't matter so much, as that's handled in the raw developer.

My setting for import of all my files into photoshop is Adobe RGB. My macro for local printing and web display, however, converts the image to sRGB. I still use Adobe RGB as my primary workflow setting because I print sometimes in locales that prefer Adobe RGB (I get no perceptible loss in quality in the conversion versus using sRGB to begin with).

The most important step in this workflow, which many forget to execute and thereby become disappointed with Adobe RGB, is the part where you convert the image for web display, rather than simply slapping a different profile on it.
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petrbur Senior Member • Posts: 1,129
sRGB

You got a lot of nice answers here, some of them very sofisticated and I think too complex when consider your OP question.

Anyway, I thing the first one from Mithandir is the best you can get!!!

Until you are an expert who exactly knows how the color profiling works and who has also a calibrated monitor capable to corectly display AdobeRGB color space, then avoid aRGB! Keep using sRGB .

Why?

  • Becasue sRGB is a standard set by default in almost any camera, monitor, printer, etc... etc.... (you do not need to re-set anything, you do not need to learn so much)

  • Becasue vast majority of users are not able to display anything else but sRGB on their monitors (you can post pictures or send them to the friends without any additional conversions)

  • Becasue if you do not have appropriate monitor, your PP will be incorrect regarding the colors

So, really, if you have to ask then keep sRGB That was a very good advise from Mithandir.

And if you want a wider color gamut and you want to change your workflow to AdobeRGB, then consider at least an expensive monitor having aRGB gamut and - at the first! - learn something about it from some good books. Do not relay on a few advises from different users here on forum. Working in AdobeRGB is not so easy how it can look, it is not a simple switch on your camera - it is a complex way of entire workflow.

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