aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?

Started Oct 7, 2022 | Discussions
reid thaler
reid thaler Senior Member • Posts: 1,794
aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?

I've always bought aRGB monitors because I print to a large format printer and figure I want to get as much color data correct as possible, but have never compared them side by side.

Is there a clear difference?  I teach and wonder if recommending an aRGB monitor for students that don't print their own work is overkill.  And I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

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Reid
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bmoag Veteran Member • Posts: 3,601
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?
4

My humble:

We all know that in this best of all possible jpeg/sRGB world a wider than sRGB gamut monitor can't show colors that are not in the original data. So for nearly all uses an sRGB monitor is just fine, probably optimal. Presumably we all know the benefits of correctly processing hi bit raw images in a big color space are agnostic with regard to monitor gamut.

A wider than sRGB panel is not only useless for pure jpeg shooters but can also lead to gnashing of teeth and other body parts when misused.

I see the benefits of wider than sRGB gamut monitors as restricted to those who process high bit raw images in a technically correct workflow and understand potential color land mines surrounding users of a wider gamut monitor. Those who really need a wider gamut monitor know why, those who want one hopefully understand what they are getting into.

Many new to wide gamut monitors correctly convert their high bit raw masterpiece to sRGB but wonder/forget why colors look odd in a non-color managed viewer on that wide gamut monitor. Posts on fora like this ensue. Windows is very facile at doing that, macOS has its own booby traps.

As my 4k sRGB panel is showing signs of wanting to go to the electronic waste dump not in the sky I am searching for cost-effective wider gamut solutions because all my images are very raw and I like to potentially gawk at colors I can't do anything practical with. But I have some experience with these panels and a second calibrated sRGB panel to same me from myself.

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mclewis Senior Member • Posts: 1,706
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?
1

reid thaler wrote:

I've always bought aRGB monitors because I print to a large format printer and figure I want to get as much color data correct as possible, but have never compared them side by side.

Is there a clear difference?

It depends on whether the particular image you are looking at has colours outside of the sRGB gamut.  Not all images do.

And I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

That will depend on the printer and printer settings.

reid thaler
OP reid thaler Senior Member • Posts: 1,794
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?
4

bmoag wrote:

My humble:

We all know that in this best of all possible jpeg/sRGB world a wider than sRGB gamut monitor can't show colors that are not in the original data. So for nearly all uses an sRGB monitor is just fine, probably optimal. Presumably we all know the benefits of correctly processing hi bit raw images in a big color space are agnostic with regard to monitor gamut.

A wider than sRGB panel is not only useless for pure jpeg shooters but can also lead to gnashing of teeth and other body parts when misused.

I see the benefits of wider than sRGB gamut monitors as restricted to those who process high bit raw images in a technically correct workflow and understand potential color land mines surrounding users of a wider gamut monitor. Those who really need a wider gamut monitor know why, those who want one hopefully understand what they are getting into.

Many new to wide gamut monitors correctly convert their high bit raw masterpiece to sRGB but wonder/forget why colors look odd in a non-color managed viewer on that wide gamut monitor. Posts on fora like this ensue. Windows is very facile at doing that, macOS has its own booby traps.

As my 4k sRGB panel is showing signs of wanting to go to the electronic waste dump not in the sky I am searching for cost-effective wider gamut solutions because all my images are very raw and I like to potentially gawk at colors I can't do anything practical with. But I have some experience with these panels and a second calibrated sRGB panel to same me from myself.

I didn't even think of JPG only shooters as I would consider that a waste of time and equipment.

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Reid
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Kaj E Forum Pro • Posts: 10,731
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?

reid thaler wrote:

I've always bought aRGB monitors because I print to a large format printer and figure I want to get as much color data correct as possible, but have never compared them side by side.

Yes, there is.

Take a look with your Adobe RGB monitor:

https://webkit.org/blog-files/color-gamut/

https://furbo.org/color/WideGamut/

https://www.wide-gamut.com/images

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NAwlins Contrarian Veteran Member • Posts: 9,198
Printer vs. monitor gamuts and Adobe RGB
2

I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

Even some very modest printers can print colors that are outside the gamuts of both sRGB and even Adobe RGB--and almost any monitor can display colors that are outside the gamuts of all printers (and even the best printer on the widest-gamut paper cannot print anywhere near all of the colors within sRGB). My modest little 6-color Epson printer, on some papers, can print a not-small range of yellows and cyan-aquamarines, and some red-magentas, that are outside of Adobe RGB's gamut. See my post at:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63802616

In short, the shapes and extents of monitor gamuts and printer gamuts differ substantially from each other. Also, if you want to use a color working space that can describe all the colors your monitor can display and/or your printer can print, then you probably need to be working in ProPhoto RGB (or its "Melissa" variant used in Lightroom) or maybe DxO's new "Wide Gamut" space.

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Kaj E Forum Pro • Posts: 10,731
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?

reid thaler wrote:

And I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

You can see how the max. printable colors fit into prints here (Pointer's gamut represent the max printable colors):

https://tftcentral.co.uk/articles/pointers_gamut

Most modern photo printers can print colors outside the Adobe RGB gamut, and there are also colors in the Adobe RGB a printer cannot print.

You can upload the .icc profile of your printer/paper and compare it to different gamuts here:

https://www.iccview.de/

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Kaj E Forum Pro • Posts: 10,731
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?

Kaj E wrote:

reid thaler wrote:

I've always bought aRGB monitors because I print to a large format printer and figure I want to get as much color data correct as possible, but have never compared them side by side.

Yes, there is.

Take a look with your Adobe RGB monitor:

https://webkit.org/blog-files/color-gamut/

https://furbo.org/color/WideGamut/

https://www.wide-gamut.com/images

I have started to post my web images in Adobe RGB, DIsplay P3 or EciRGB when warranted by the colors (and most of them are). Prophoto RGB is not suitable for 8-bit images (JPEGs).

All widely used web browsers are color managed nowadays.

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Kaj
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NAwlins Contrarian Veteran Member • Posts: 9,198
ProPhoto RGB for JPEGs

I have started to post my web images in Adobe RGB, DIsplay P3 or EciRGB when warranted by the colors (and most of them are). Prophoto RGB is not suitable for 8-bit images (JPEGs).

Based on some tests I ran (see https://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=123579.0), I think you'd find that ProPhoto RGB is just fine for the large majority of JPEGs as long as no further editing is done to them. That's not to say you can't possibly ever get banding in an unedited JPEG in ProPhoto RGB, or that many photos will benefit greatly from being in ProPhoto RGB instead of e.g. Adobe RGB. But mostly where color management 'works' so you can use Adobe RGB in a JPEG, you can also use ProPhoto RGB.

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JohnWheeler Contributing Member • Posts: 796
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?
7

reid thaler wrote:

I've always bought aRGB monitors because I print to a large format printer and figure I want to get as much color data correct as possible, but have never compared them side by side.

Is there a clear difference? I teach and wonder if recommending an aRGB monitor for students that don't print their own work is overkill. And I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

Hi Reid

Good questions.  I suspect that you may have students that ask you what gamut monitor to buy as well.  I suspect you need to know for yourself having not done the side by side comparisons.  I will include 3D pictures showing the difference in gamuts of different color spaces and printing.

Bottom line.  For your average student, my answer would be no, they do not need an aRGB monitor.  Just saying so will not convince many students because as with most products, they are heavily marketed around certain a limited set of characteristics that may or may not make and difference to the end user.  Resolution and color gamut are pushed with monitors.

Already mentioned by another forum member is that it only make a difference for images that have content outside of sRGB gamut.  The ends up being a relatively small number of images taken by the average person.  Very colorful sunsets and flowers are examples that would have a very high gamut.

Here is what I suggest.  Take some of your best pictures some that are not the highest color saturated and some that are quite saturated.   Purposely make a second set of the iamges converted to sRGB.  Now display them side by side (or toggled one after another) on your aRGB monitor and look for any differences of importance if any.  You could do this in front of students as well (when in person).

Do the same yet show the images on a mobile device (which are either aRGB or display P3 (apple devices) and note any important differences if any.

Second, take the aRGB images and the converted to sRGB images and print them both to a regular home color printer and matte color paper and note any differences.  So the same to a higher gamut printer (e.g. Epson P900) and higher gamut capable paper (typically glossy) and note any differences if any.

That will give you an excellent basis for making recommendations one way or another.

I believe there are many important factors to consider for good images other than color gamut e.g.

- Image topic  (Eye of the photographer)

- composition (Eye of the photographer)

-tonality

- removal of distractions in the image

- sharpness or smoothness as needed in the image etc

- Using an IPS monitor with good room lighting (independent of aRGB or sRGB

- An understanding of the final product (image on device such as high gamut pad or phone or monitor or a print.

- understanding of the pros and cons of aRGB vs display P3 gamuts

- Understanding that printer type and paper type have a large swing factor on possible color gamut/saturation.  Regular and matte papers have a much smaller gamut even with the best printers.

- An understanding of doing soft proofing for printing as both aRGB and sRGB have colors that cannot be represented in existing printer/paper combinations

If a student just goes for an aRGB monitor and does not know how to take into account these other factors, they miss the boat anyways.

I predict that you and your students will see that many pictures look fantastic both on screen and print even though they are in sRGB if all the factors above are used.  And yes, you can get more colorful results for the images that contain such saturated images and the end result is displayed/printed on something that can also support that gamut.

So from an investment standpoint, I would invest in many other areas first before an aRGB monitor for the best end product.

That said, note that almost all mobile devices out there are already high gamut and as already mentioned by other forum members the problems of color management in browsers have been much reduced compared to past times.

Also, there has been trends to push saturation in images in some applications and a high gamut workflow from camera to display/print would yield a better result.

Here are the 3-D color charts that I promised (this is probably overkill)

First, here is a comparison of sRGB (solid)  and Adobe RGB (wireframe). Note that sRGB does pretty good except in the yellow to green to cyan region

The following is a comparison of sRGB (solid) to display P3 wireframe.  Display P3 has less gamut in the greens yet more in the red and yellows compared to Adobe RGB.  sRGB still does pretty good for the bulk of lower saturated images

The following image is to point out that paper type in printing makes a huge difference in gamut you can see.  Both gamuts are on the Espson P900 10 ink printer.  The solid color is printing on matte/fiber and the wireframe is on the best Epson glossy paper.  Note that larger color gamut and much better black point with the glossy paper.  Its not just the monitor gamut that matters

So when printing on matte type papers, sRGB does not do so bad at all.  Just a few images with the right saturated colors could not be printed.   Matte paper gamut (solid) and sRGB soor space (wireframe).  Do note that there still a lot of colors in sRGB that cannot be printed to this type of paper.  Soft proofing will help a lot in showing how the print will look.

The following is the same view with sRGB color space (wireframe) and now the P900 glossy paper gamut (solid).   There would be more very saturated images that would not be covered as well with sRGB (wireframe)

This next gamut comparison is using the same P900 glossy paper yet with the Adobe RGB color space.  Most of the printer colors can be covered except in specific very saturated colors.  Note that there are still colors that Adobe RGB cannot be represented in print so soft proofing is advised to better predict the print outcome.

And for final comparison, I again show the P900 glossy paper gamut (solid) against the display P3 color gamut.  Note that cmpared to Adobe RGB there is less coverage in the green yet the display P3 gamut covers virtually all of the yellow of the printer gamut.  Again soft proofing recommended.

These 3D charts are to give a feel of the tradeoffs involved.  Showing just the editing color gamuts gives a reasonable comparison yet using the color space of ones particular montiro would be best.  An aRGB monitor does not exactly have the color gamut of Adobe RGB.  Likewise a display P3 monitor does not exactly have the color gamut of display P3 gamut.

I know this was long and probably overkill yet thought the discussion and image would help

John Wheeler

mujana Veteran Member • Posts: 8,802
Re: Printer vs. monitor gamuts and Adobe RGB

NAwlins Contrarian wrote:

I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

Even some very modest printers can print colors that are outside the gamuts of both sRGB and even Adobe RGB--and almost any monitor can display colors that are outside the gamuts of all printers (and even the best printer on the widest-gamut paper cannot print anywhere near all of the colors within sRGB). My modest little 6-color Epson printer, on some papers, can print a not-small range of yellows and cyan-aquamarines, and some red-magentas, that are outside of Adobe RGB's gamut. See my post at:

https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/63802616

In short, the shapes and extents of monitor gamuts and printer gamuts differ substantially from each other. Also, if you want to use a color working space that can describe all the colors your monitor can display and/or your printer can print, then you probably need to be working in ProPhoto RGB (or its "Melissa" variant used in Lightroom) or maybe DxO's new "Wide Gamut" space.

It' s that "Wide Gamut" space that DXO just introduced, that I find interesting. Did you already work with it in PL6?

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NAwlins Contrarian Veteran Member • Posts: 9,198
DxO "Wide Gamut" color space
1

Also, if you want to use a color working space that can describe all the colors your monitor can display and/or your printer can print, then you probably need to be working in ProPhoto RGB (or its "Melissa" variant used in Lightroom) or maybe DxO's new "Wide Gamut" space.

It' s that "Wide Gamut" space that DXO just introduced, that I find interesting. Did you already work with it in PL6?

Yes, I have done a little experimenting with the effects of using DxO's new "Wide Gamut" color space. Most notably, I used raw files some of my photos of tulips, where in the past I could not get the same colors / saturation as I could in Lightroom, which uses as its internal working space the "Melissa" variant of ProPhoto RGB. Upon opening the old raw files and sidecars in PhotoLab 6 Elite, indeed, more saturated colors emerged.

Here is one of the files, as exported in sRGB (just to give you an idea of the image):

Tulips test image, converted to sRGB, which really messes with the colors

Then I took two TIFFs, one exported from PL 5 in Adobe RGB and the other made with the same file opened in PL 6, converted to DxO Wide Gamut, and then exported in ProPhoto RGB; I opened the two in Affinity Photo, I converted the Adobe RGB version to ProPhoto RGB, inverted it, copied it, pasted it as a layer on top of the native ProPhoto RGB version, and change the blending mode to Add:

Extra saturation / gamut of tulips processed in PL 6 Wide Gamut and exported in ProPhoto RGB, versus same tile processed otherwise identically in PL 5 (Adobe RGB gamut) and exported in Adobe RGB.

As you can see, the new PL 6 does provide visibly-expanded gamut with this file.

DxO says, at https://support.dxo.com/hc/en-us/articles/7061244207645-How-will-the-DxO-wide-gamut-introduced-in-DxO-PhotoLab-6-handle-any-images-I-edited-in-earlier-versions-of-the-product-:

Images edited in earlier versions of DxO PhotoLab can still be opened in version 6. By default, any images imported from a previous version will use the 'legacy working color space'. You can then choose to convert them to the new color space, in order to take advantage of the expanded editing possibilities offered by DxO PhotoLab 6. To do this, please use the “Working Color Space” palette under the “Color” tab. Choose “version / DxO Wide Gamut” from the menu.

Please note that changing the working color space of an image may result in slightly different hues for some colors.

Even after choosing to update the working color space of an image to the new DxO Wide Gamut, you can still revert to the legacy one at any time.

Some known limitations are present in version 6.0, and will be fixed in an upcoming update.

That confirms my limited experience with PL 6.

DxO also says, at https://support.dxo.com/hc/en-us/articles/6754299074077-What-color-space-does-DxO-PhotoLab-use-:

For RAW pictures inputs, working color space is the native sensor color space for the first half of the image pipeline and then the DXO Wide Gamut colorspace, while older versions of DxO PhotoLab were using Adobe RGB. For non-RAW file inputs (TIF or JPG), the working color space is the one from the input file (unchanged).

This is interesting to me, because I had found with old versions of PhotoLab, if e.g. you opened a TIFF encoded in ProPhoto RGB, DxO seemed to handle that correctly.

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Mark Hollister Contributing Member • Posts: 572
Re: aRGB vs sRGB: Visual Difference? Worth the Premium?
1

reid thaler wrote:

I've always bought aRGB monitors because I print to a large format printer and figure I want to get as much color data correct as possible, but have never compared them side by side.

Is there a clear difference? I teach and wonder if recommending an aRGB monitor for students that don't print their own work is overkill. And I also wonder how does the color gamut of a printer compare to either aRGB or sRGB ultimately.

In addition to everything discussed, you might want to bring up the subject of colorblindness, since it's possible some of your students may be colorblind.

(Enchroma makes glasses that help most colorblind people, but even with them the glasses don't give them perfect color vision)

In a very interesting YouTube video I watched, a colorblind young man had done very well for himself as an artist, even being a featured gallery artist. After trying the glasses, he was amazed at all the color he had never seen before. But in the end, he decided to stop using the glasses and went back to working in the more limited colors he had always seen. Familiarity was his main reason. Nothing wrong with that.

Here is that video:

https://youtu.be/ZCsECIia1Ck

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