Color management guide by Arnaud Frich

Manage colors with Photoshop and Lightroom
Manage colors with Photoshop
   
   
   
   
   
    Color management with Lightroom
    Printing with Lightroom
   
    Choosing Photoshop workspace
  Fleche sRGB, Adobe RGB or ProPhoto?
    Color management on the web? - Updated
    Color management on your camera - Soon...
    Color management in Camera Raw
     

 

Generalites about colors Screen calibration Printer calibration Manage the colors with Photoshop Go further and know more

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Shim
Updated on April 07, 2017
 

Choosing your workspace in Photoshop or for your images: sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto...?

Here's aother question that is often asked! Any photographer know nowadays that there are several color workspace, more or less broad. But how to choose between them? Is the small sRGB really that small and can't it be OK in certain situations? It has a "bad" reputation but is it still accurate? Do we still need to use the very broad ProPhoto? What is the risk if you make a mistake? Are there really colors that can't be printed? Etc. 


Caution!
Especially in this page but it's the state of mind of the website in general, I want to share with you my experience of photographer using color management for twelve years now. So go further simple theoretical approaches telling us that Adobe RGB is broader than sRGB hence... better!

So many criteria come into line. Moreover, especially at the beginning of my "practical experiments", I often had this thought: theoretically there should be a huge difference and yet, frankly, differences are not always that big really. Why? You should understand better why I like ProPhoto very much, but also why I defend sRGB by reading this page... 

 

Key points if you're a beginner...

Here are the key points to remember about color spaces in Photoshop or in an image. The rest of this page is aimed at those who want to learn more.

Watch this video to start well... (In french)

How to choose your color space between sRGB and Adobe RGB (beginners): 28'54

Free HD video (in french)!

This video is free because you're more and more to play the game of affiliation, meaning making your purchases from the links on my website or below to:
Amazon.com
Thanks to these links, they know you're referred by me. Then they're the ones paying for you by giving me a small percentage on their sales! Thanks.

WHAT COMES NEXT IS ESSENTIAL!

sRGB, Adobe RGB 98 or ProPhoto are neutral color spaces. It is the profile (or the color space) of our images when they just came out of the camera. You thus choose among them or even other ones, the workspace for your images. Let's try to know what their differences are and what the consequences are on your photos or your way to edit them.

First essential point: if you think your colors are too dull in sRGB, it is not because of the sRGB but because of a wrong profile choice. The most common: you assigned an sRGB profile to an Adobe RGB image.

The main difference between these color spaces is their gamut. Meaning the range of colors they can - potentially - reproduce while keeping shades hence differences between two very saturated colors. Problem: a space can contain colors that an external device will be unable to print, for instance.

sRGB's gamut is thus much smaller than ProPhoto's. It has two direct consequences, essential and fundamental:
they have common colors, strictly the same whether are they displayed in sRGB or ProPhoto.
their difference is thus only on highly saturated colors. They still have different shades in ProPhoto that don't "exist" in sRGB.
They will then be replaced by a swath of the closest color and the most saturated in sRGB.

What consequences does it have on images, hence on your choice? Well with sRGB, you won't be able to photograph or saturate afterwards colors as saturated as in ProPhoto while keeping nice gradations. They'll be replaced by a swath of moderately saturated colors in sRGB, or worse, will show breaks of shades if you saturate them in postproduction. You will then lose the drape of a dress, the shades of a poppy petal, etc.

Caution though, it also depends a lot on the final medium, on the destination of your image. If your file shows numerous shades but your paper is unable to print them, it is not worth anything! You have to understand that in 2016, you can't benefit from the whole potential of ProPhoto. The huge majority of final destinations "erases" a big part of this fabulous potential... Let's be patient and wait... Let's work in RAW to be ready for the future!

So what matters most is above all what I want to do with my images: share them on the web only, print them on a matt paper, on a glossy one? Take your precautions beforehand so that you don't lose all the benefits at the moment of printing for instance...

Here's a summary in pictures...

Choosing between ProPhoto and sRGB is like choosing between a box of 32 pencils and a box of 16. The 32 pencils box has the same pencils as the 16 pencils one as I explain above and the other 16 are pencils with brighter colors. You can as well want to draw in pastel tones, and whether you take one box or the other won't change anything. If you don't like flashy colors, you'll thus be happy with the 16 pencils box and having the big box won't change anything. However, if you like pastel colors as well as flashy ones, then you'll have to choose the 32 pencils box not to have to choose and be able to make all sorts of drawings!

Next key points: What color management on the web suivre


It is by knowing well the differences between color spaces, from "small' sRGB to "broad" ProPhoto that you'll make the right choice. And you'll see that even if the smaller one does less, less is often enough! For more experienced users, we'll also see a few points that enable to optimize your choice. Then, I'll show you concretely how to choose in four practical examples...

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Let's start by putting an end to a strange belief about sRGB...

Because of a mistake in profile assignment at the opening of a photo, I often hear that with sRGB profile colors are dull!!! That sRGB is not so great. That it confirms the reputation of this color space. While it's just a technical mistake! Let's see that in details.

Little reminder because it doesn't go without saying!

To be displayed in Photoshop, a photo has to have an ICC profile. We've seen it in the previous page, choosing your workspace in Photoshop . It's the ICC profile that will give it its "true" colors. (I recommend you to read my page about profile assignment for further details. Indeed, an RGB value never represents a color (hence L*a*b*) theoretically. It is the color space or the ICC profile assigned that will give a colorimetric "meaning" to an RGB value. So for a same RGB value (say 0, 255, 0), I won't get the same green (L*a*b*) in sRGB or in Adobe RGB 98:

 

 

The same RGB values (0, 255, 0) are projected on two different L*a*b* green shades in sRGB or Adobe RGB color spaces. A same RGB value gives two different greens depending on the color space indeed.

Now how does it show in an image?

 


 

My analysis! Of course colors are duller in sRGB, but it's not the right profile for this image! This image had been converted in Adobe RGB and should thus have been opened in Adobe RGB. Here's how a "small" technical mistake, at the opening of a photo, can lead to a lot of interpretations about a color space...
To finish my demonstration, I'll now show you this same image with each time the right profile in Adobe RGB and sRGB (made from a RAW file developed twice):

 


 

My analysis! There are no visible differences anymore between an Adobe RGB image, opened with its profile, and the same image, this time developed in sRGB (hence with its profile too). The sRGB one already features numerous colors! It is not that small, and not dull either!!!

Caution! Depending on the browser you're using and only if you're on a wide gamut screen, you can still see these images with differences, that are only due to your browser's color management. Take the images and open them in Photoshop and everything will be back into order.

Let's go further now...

We developed a same RAW file in sRGB then in Adobe RGB. We can see in the picture above that the difference, at least in this size, is invisible; the photos seem and are very similar! What is then this asset so determining to working into a broader space than sRGB? Yeah, what is it? Rather Adobe RGB or ProPhoto?

Hence this question: where should you look for differences? We'll quickly review the three main color spaces and we'll then see numerous practical cases to help you choose wisely.

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What are the theoretical differences between color spaces?

There's an essential difference between color spaces and two other ones that only a few experienced users will be able to weigh.  

  • The first one is of course their gamut; it's the one that will interest us most here. It is the most visible!
  • But they can also be distinguished by their illuminant, meaning the color temperature of their white point;
  • And finally by their gamma curve.

Main difference: their gamut

The main difference is their gamut range hence else said the range of the set of colors they're able to reproduce with shades.

So "small" sRGB only contains 2.5 million colors of the reference space that is  L*a*b* space hence of the range of colors a human eye can see. Long story short, it is thus able to potentially reproduce only the less saturated colors, which, by the way, are the most common! I'm saying potentially because a photo, except if you're shooting white light into a close-up of a prism, never contains all the colors of a rainbow.

In the figure over there, you can see for instance that Adobe RGB color space is a bit broader towards blue and cyan colors, and noticeably broader in saturated greens. Only RGB ProPhoto is really wider and this, for all colors. It is even able to overpass a little the L*a*b* space. So let's start by putting an end to a prejudice:

If all color spaces are more or less broad, it means that they share a common space hence common colors. For these colors, their look will be exactly the same, no matter which color space you'll choose and as long as you don't make any saturation on them that could overpass the original color space, of course.

Now the question is to know if the one I'll choose will be wide enough for my photos, my camera or my prints. That's why devices profiles and color spaces are superimposed, notably. We'll see that in details below...

The comparison between the possibilities of a
printer's and a space's gamut is only theoretical...

...as long as the pixels in an image haven't been projected on this diagram too. Usually, color spaces and profiles are compared placing their gamut on the chromaticity diagram:

From that point of view, you might wonder what's the interest of working in sRGB or even Adobe RGB? Theoretically, that's unbeatable but practically, what matters most are the colors shot and what you want to do with them (post-edition saturation). An wildlife photographer like Vincent Munier doesn't photograph highly saturated colors every day and doesn't have any interest in using ProPhoto, which would moreover force him to work in 16 bits, hence increase the weight of his workflow.  His photos and prints will be the same in sRGB and in ProPhoto.

It is completely different for photographers who like saturated colors either during the shooting either in post-edition, I especially have HDR in mind. If they want to benefit fully of their printer's gamut, they'll have to work in ProPhoto because even Adobe RGB is a bit short on blue-cyan (still potentially).


My recommendation! Adobe RGB 98 is indeed broader than sRGB but please note that it's only true for greens, a bit for cyans and almost not for blues. For reds, it's just the same! Here is among other reasons why there is no noticeable difference (even on a wide-gamut screen) to the naked eye or with the pipette on an sRGB screen on my bottle photo above.
Note then that if you compare the gamut of sRGB and Epson for reds, they're very close. It means that even if we'd developed this photo in ProPhoto (to get more shades in the reds of bottle stoppers), we wouldn't have been able to print them and incidentally, to display them on our screen (but we could have worked with the pipette). In fact, we would have had lots of red shades on the file... that we wouldn't see on our screens, on the web, on our prints! How useful is that? I really can't wait for prints gamuts to increase...

To sum up, I'd say that Adobe RGB isn't of a lot of interest anymore for who prints at home, and if you want to make sure to keep the maximum amount of potential in your graphic chain, work in RAW then develop it all in ProPhoto 16 bits. But don't expect miracles on all your photos all the time in terms of saved margin.

All this to say that from one photo, I wanted to show how theoretical assets don't always enable to show them visually nor on a print. Just in profile comparison piece of software. Just photo! Of course, there are other photos where the practical asset will be more noticeable but it is not systematic: theory tells it always shows. Not so simple though. Why do you believe that so many photographers keep on working in sRGB, by the way? All blind? ...

Second difference: their illuminant (D50 or D65)

It is a point that only advanced users will note. The illuminant is thus the temperature of white point. There are two possibilities for most famous color spaces: D50 (5,000 K) and D65 (6,500 K).

  • Illuminant D50: ProPhoto, Don RGB, Melissa RGB, etc.
  • Illuminant D65: the famous sRGB and Adobe RGB.


So what are the consequences? It's an interesting point, if you work on a fully calibrated graphic chain and that, most probably, will try to follow the recommendations of the last ISO norms. It is only of interest for a few photographers a priori but maybe to a larger number of professional editors that have to offer guarantees to their clients. This way, if you work on an Art Graphique Eizo screen, following the last norms, which illuminant by construction is D50, which calibration will thus be performed in accordance to this target value for color temperature and for which prints will be analyzed under a controlled light (box with D50 tubes), as well as in a controlled environment (room ambience), then you could "easily" match the whites on your screen and the whites on your print. For the others... there are too many conditions that must be respected for it to be really interesting to focus on this sole criterion. The eye indeed has a great capacity of chromatic adaptation. 

Third difference: their "gamma"

Each color space has its own gamma, from 1.8 to 2.2 or even L* (close to 2.2 but even more similar to the gamma of human eye).

  • Gamma 1.8: ProPhoto.
  • Gamma 2.2: Adobe RGB or even ECI RGB V2, Don RGB or even Melissa RGB.
  • L* (close to 2.2): the famous sRGB.


What are the consequences? Well, for you photograhers... none! Try developing a photo with important dark areas in ProPhoto then in sRGB: they'll be identical! In fact, these differences have a meaning for those who invented them but differences management is transparent for us and is done in the program.

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What are the practical differences? How to choose your workspace between sRGB, Adobe RGB 98, ProPhoto?

I think it's important to start by raising the question of colors we were talking about: the colors we photograph, the ones we'll later edit and then what we're going to do with them. Indeed, the color space I will need will be the one that doesn't limit me during the shooting or when I edit my photos, but also and it is often neglected, when you don't want it to be all diagrams and spaces, what will show on my final destination. Else said, do I always need to work in wide gamut spaces? How are slightly or normally saturated colors interpreted in different workspaces? What happens with "unprintable" colors? What will happen if I saturate my photos in post-production in too tight a space?

1 - Case of "normally" saturated colors with few post-production

In the image below, I developed a RAW file in ProPhoto. This photo (in TIFF) was a reframing of a portrait centered on the cheek of a European face in winter. The software extracted pixels colors to project them in the L*a*b* space. In green, you see the outline of my printer's profile on Glossy paper, in bluethe profile of a classic screen (not a wide gamut hence close to sRGB) and in grey the ProPhoto profile. All unsaturated flesh colors are contained in the three color spaces and represented by L*a*b* colors common to the three spaces! For this photo, changing the color space won't change the look of your photo. It will also be displayed equally on a calibrated screen with a classic gamut (close to sRGB) and a wide gamut screen (close to Adobe RGB 98).

Moreover, please note that if you wanted to saturate your image a little, you could have done it without risking posterizing your image, even in sRGB, because flesh colors are not at the border of the sRGB space (it wouldn't necessarily be the same with other colors...).

 

Flesh colors gamut

Profile impression = printer profile / Couleurs des pixels d'une image de tons chairs = Pixels color of skin color.


My observations! sRGB is fairly considered as a small color space hence POTENTIALLY contains less reproductible colors than the other spaces but if you never work on them, it is of no importance at all and never forget that these are saturated or very saturated colors (originally or artificially in Photoshop afterwards).

My recommendation! The key point of your choice is thus relative to the subjects you're shooting hence to the only saturated colors you'll be shooting directly, and I would even go further and say, the ones yu'll be able to print. Work in ProPhoto if you're shooting fall colors, even with beautiful lights, won't be of any use if you print them on matt paper because they can't be reproduced by the gamut of the paper!


DON'T MISTAKE THEORETICAL POSSIBILITIES OF A SPACE FOR WHAT YOU NEED. THEORETICALLY, THE BROAD SPACE PROPHOTO ENABLES TO KEEP MORE COLORS BUT IF YOU NEVER SHOOT HIGHLY SATURATED COLORS OR IF YOU DON'T PURPOSEDLY SAURATE YOUR IMAGES IN POST-PRODUCTION THEN IT IS COMPLETELY USELESS! PERIOD. ALL COLORS COMMON TO PROPHOTO AND SRGB ARE THE SAME IN PROPHOTO AND SRGB... BY DEFINITION!

2 - Case of bright colors, saturated, rather in green tones or if you're an HDR lover or even saturated images during the shooting or in post-production.

In this case you'll have to differenciate two different problems:  

  • Risks of tone breakings during saturation in post-production;
  • Color swathes without shades (but also without tone breakings).

It is completely different and, you'll have guessed that, the development of your RAW files in ProPhoto 16 bits is almost obvious. Here again, that doesn't mean that your print in ProPhoto flow will be so different from a print in sRGB flow but you have to maximize your chances and use current possibilities of our devices at their maximum. Moreover, I think it is important to take good habits right now because I hope that our dear printers' gamuts will progress a lot more and that one day, I won't talk about sRGB anymore... with highly saturated colors!

With that in mind, I will show you why, theoretically, you need to use the ProPhoto and why, practically, it is not always so spectactular except if you isolate a problem and zoom in on it. Let's see what I'm talking about...

a - Tone breakings in certain colors - Since I don't especially work with saturated colors, I was never confronted to the problem of tone breaking when you saturate a color. It is thus by making researches about it on the web that I found a solution, in particular in a post by my mentor about Camera Raw, the American Jeff Schewe (mate of poor Bruce Fraser). Reading his article comparing sRGB vs ProPhoto RGB, clearly showing this defect on numerous colors when you saturate your photos in a given color space, I was convinced he'd found the solution and I got the certainty that this problem only had a "slight" importance, exactly what I felt when I did my own tests. This article perfectly confirmed what I note practically, in quality and in quantity. Here's what it's all about. So we could define the case, to start with, when you shot a photo of something not especially saturated (compatible with sRGB or Adobe RGB). But you want, for your own aesthetic taste, to increase its saturation, or maybe you're planning on doing HDR, so you need to "have some space" towards saturated colors and to work in a space where the borders are extended (I'll send you back to the image of spaces at the beginning of this post). Before saturation your image is pefect in sRGB for instance but after saturation, it would be posterized - on certain colors - and you would notice numerous tone breakings, numerous unsightly color swathes, on this same photo, in this small color space. The problem wouldn't exist in ProPhoto from the start.

My recommendation! If you like saturated photos, from the shooting on or in post-production, you should choose to work preferably in RAW, of course, then in ProPhoto 16 bits or else choose the Adobe RGB profile on your camera body if you're shooting in JPEG in order to have "space" to saturate your images without the risk of posterization. If you don't, I'll show what will happen: 

1 - You develop your RAW file in sRGB then in ProPhoto. You enlarge your two developments at 100% in a "sensitive" color zone hence rather with greens or yellowy greens (according to my tests because Jeff Schewe shows the same problem with orange-reds).

Caution! If you shot "bright" colors, you could see the difference on your screen between these two developments but you'd have to have a wide gamut screen or it will be difficult! Only the pipette in Photoshop will show you. And if you have a wide gamut screen in 2016 it won't show you a lot more than the Adobe RGB 98 that is still far away from ProPhoto. With that said, it is better than nothing and you'll at least see all the differences between sRGB and Adobe RGB 98, especially for greens.

2 - Now and if you saturate your photos, even on a screen only showing sRGB (roughly), you'll be able to "see" concretely how your images degrade. Here's an example: :


 

My analysis: You can clearly see that when you apply a +20 saturation in Photoshop to this sRGB image, it posterizes (tone breakings) in green areas. Nothing happens in red areas where you can only a very saturated swath (you're reaching the display limit of differences of "sRGB" screens for these colors. Only the pipette will tell you if you're in 255 or noticeably under). These artefacts can happen very fast on certain bright colors.

 

 

My analysis: You can clearly see that when you apply a +20 saturation in Photoshop to this ProPhoto image, it doesn't posterize anymore (tone breakings) in green areas. It would be the same for our bright colors shot with a flash or in the sun. Reds don't posterize more but become very saturated and without shades: very saturated red swath on display but it will depend on your screen; if it shows the sRGB, you'll see a red swath. If you have a wide gamut screen, it will probably be close because the Adobe RGB color space is broader than sRGB but especially for greens, greens/yellows (to make it short because it would change depending on the luminosity level). However, if you scan it with the pipette in Photoshop, you'll notice that the red values vary a lot : from 205 to 230. In ProPhoto there are indeed red shades but they can't be seen on the screen. And the craziest part is that even when you print it on a glossy paper, you won't see any difference, or really few compared to the potential of ProPhoto since our printers have very "small" gamuts today!

My analysis and my recommendations! To show "clearly" the interest of prefering ProPhoto to sRGB when you're "working" with saturated colors, during the shooting or in post-production, I had to enlarge my photos a lot (the same is true for Jeff, who enlarges his images at 400%). At 100% it is visible, especially for greens, but not in a dramatic way. On an A4 print, it would go unnoticed. So at 400%, things are very clear and don't make you want to work in sRGB. Here's why, according to me, many photographers who like saturated colors keep on working in sRGB without "guessing" that their workflow can be widely optimized: because for their final use, these defects will be very discreet in these small printing sizes. You thus have a good progression prospective, especially if you consider working with big size prints!

My conclusion!

To show you something, I had to enlarge considerably my photo (400%) like Jeff Schewe in the case of this pompom hence the pixelation. Of course, there's something happening but without any doubt, you wouldn't have seen anything if I had put the photo - with a +20% saturation which is already something! - on my website, in a common size for the web, since the parts concerned by this posterization are really tiny. It would of course have gone otherwise with a subject with bright colors shot in close-up hence filling the space of the photo.

So theoretically, the difference is undeniable and yet, practically, it can go unnoticed on an A4 print for instance. Not so simple! Here, dear beginners (or not!) is why you don't always see why what you do isn't "ideal" and here's why a good old sRGB is still fine after all these years...

With that said, if you don't have to make the test every time because it would be a ridiculous waste of time, work in ProPhoto will always keep you safe from this kind of disappointment, whether can it be "concretely" seen or not in your final use and not only at 400% on your screen! I thus encourage you to master color management in order to work regularly in this broad workspace. However, in 2016, you'll still be limited by the screen and the gamut of your pair printer/paper!

My conclusion: I can't wait for ProPhoto screens and ultrawide printing gamuts!


- Color management on your camera suivre Soon...

- Color management in Camera Raw suivre Soon...

3 - Case of colors out of gamuts but without tone breakings

In the example above, we saw that certain colors posterized and that others simply became swathes of color, at least displayed on screen, because when you check them with the pipette in Photoshop, you can clearly see in this swath that the file contains shades that, thus, only the screen is unable to display. You've reached the display limits of this screen for these colors. The colors mainly concerned by this case are reds and blues.

 

 

My analysis and my conclusion! So, still in this photo, you can clearly see on an "sRGB" screen that the red wool is now turned into a red swath displayed with the most saturated red that can display the screen. Only if you scroll your mouse over it with the pipette tool in Photoshop will you see that the RGB values and especially R vary, sign of shades into the file.

So except for greens, greens/yellows and orange where risks of tone breakings are more obvious as we saw above, in other colors, you "just" risk not seeing what you're doing because your screen won't enable it. It is, in 2016, still unable to display these colors. Please note that "Adobe RGB 98 said wide gamut" extend their gamut towards greens.

So if your images will mostly be broadcasted on the web, the great ProPhoto won't make a huge difference. Indeed you'll have saturated your photos, but to the detriment of a very saturated swath where there were shades, but indeed, less saturated.

In fact, in this case, you're still a bit stuck by the limits of final destination.

My recommendation: if you like saturated colors, work as much as possible in ProPhoto and you'll convert your photos in sRGB at the last minute. You're sure to avoid tone breakings in certain colors. Even if you'll lose colors at display or at the printing then, tone breakings related to a post-production saturation really destroy your file (with all the nuances explained above). And never forget that the more you want to saturate your photos, the more you risk turning numerous shades of your photos into super-saturated swathes, given the actual state of evolution of equipment!

4 - When limits of printing gamuts level the different color spaces...

Image converted in sRGB with incorporated profileHow will all these saturation differences be printed? If the printer can't print this or this color, what will it replace them with?

I'll take this photo of a stained-glass window of the cathedral of Bourges, with very beautiful and pure colors, as an example. I want to print it on glossy paper, because they have the broadest gamuts for printing currently.

I tried to emphasize it in this double development of RAW file (sRGB then ProPhoto). After printing, I shot the prints you see here. They were voluntarily unsaturated in order to show you something, especially on screens with standard gamut, because theory tells us the differences but practical application is often a lot less spectacular!

 

Comparison between RAW development in sRGB and ProPhoto

 

My analysis! On the left photo (printed from a RAW file developed in sRGB/8 bits), the red part of the stained-glass window (5% of the photo, not more) is a red swath with hardly any shade. On the right photo (printed from the same RAW file but developed in ProPhoto/16 bits in Camera Raw) this same part shows the same saturation level and a bit more matter that should have been unsaturated even more to emphasize it on screen. No need to tell you that in the original prints, the difference is really thin even if it's real. With that said, in a nice photo exhibition, IT WOULD GO UNNOTICED! 
For someone who would watch both prints on a table, hence by comparison, they would still be difficult to perceive! It tells you what the difference is between theory and practical application in color management for print...

Since a color is never completely unprintable, or there would be white in its place, it is replaced by the printable color that is the closest in saturation. Then, it is possible to compare the two conversion modes - relative and perceptive - to know if you'd better lose shades without "touching" the other colors or if you'd rather get a bit more relief, even less saturated than on the original.

My analysis! Understand me well, that doesn't mean that this is the only difference between these two gamuts for this red, that just means that on the final destination, here a print with a wide gamut, the difference is mainly erased and can hardly be seen. The day when we'll have ultrawide gamut papers, things will be different and ProPhoto will show its full potential and its differences.

My recommendation! We saw that certain colors could be destroyed in post-production (posterization). At the time of printing, when a color is unprintable, no such thing can happen. The colored shades of a file will just be printed with the closest colors technically printable, hence possibly less saturated. 

Important note! You can display unprintable colors in Photoshop, but you can't know whether these colors can't be printed for a 1% saturation or a lot more. Up to 5/10 %, I'm not sure it would be so easy to see the difference because, and you should always keep that in mind, only the most saturated colors out gamut would be unsaturated of 5/10% in this example. It wouldn't change anything for the other colors. As long as Photoshop will show us unprintable colors with a sole swath of grey, it will be very difficult to "foresee" by the image on the screen the difference there will be between our file and our print. This on/off thing has a dramatizing side that remembers me of journalists: "If the plane had crashed before, it would have fallen onto a  nursery. It would have been an even worse catastrophe". It didn't crash on the nursery though.    


Print with Photoshop suivre

In these circumstances, how important is it to display the image on a wide gamut screen?

So if you want to perceive this difference a bit at the display on your screen (thus, let me remind you, especially in green parts) - hence apart from tone breakings, obvious even on an sRGB screen - you'd better work before a superb wide gamut screen of excellent quality. It is not compulsory because it won't damage your file - unlike what some could believe - but you won't be able to "foresee" all your different edits hence maybe not take them very far if you display this photo on a screen displaying a gamut close to sRGB. It is just a visual limit.
A professional editor or a passionate amateur - who likes saturated colors - working on this kind of subjects should thus, according to me, buy a wide gamut screen, calibrated with an excellent calibration colorimeter in order to anticipate a bit on the final result visually (especially in green parts). What about the others... ?

My recommendation! To put an end to another prejudice, even if you're working on an "sRGB" screen, you will just be limited in the edits that you'll be able to make WHILE SEEING what you're doing, but in no way will you "damage" your file. You can very well print colors that can't be displayed, especially since these colors can't be displayed on your screen only and not as a general rule, because you could maybe see them on another screen with a wider gamut!
But one last time, wide gamut doesn't mean wide gamut in all directions because the Adobe RGB 98 is especially broader towards green and not significatively towards reds. Your red dress will be displayed identically on both types of screens (except in case of misjudgement in the profiles as I explained before).

And what about Internet?

It is the topic of the next page: what color management on the web? suivre

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To be remembered!

There's a big difference between theory and practical applications! Here's why a lot of photographers work in sRGB without being upset about it. It is not optimal theoretically but not always catastrophic either and even completely invisible on certain colors, as if by chance the most common!

 For more than ten years I thus tried to study the practical application. Is it really visible? If there's a difference, is it as dramatic as what theory promised or will it be more subtle?

I can't wait for our screens and printers to increase their gamut even more to get closer from the ProPhoto. Except for the web, you won't need to choose anymore!

If I have one recommendation to make, it is to shoot in RAW because you won't dismiss future possibilities!

You can never lose colors in color management (these famous unprintable colors which are anything but unprintable, of course...) must be unsaturated only if you want to print them on a paper with a smaller gamut and you posterize them more or less meaning that you'll create tone breakings if you saturate them too much in post-production!

I say you'd burn your eyes out if you had to play the game of seven differences between a photo exposure in sRGB and the same in ProPhoto (always with the same reserve about color saturation of your photos. Essential point.) and even more on a small print. I can't wait for pairs ink/paper with a very wide gamut that will enable to exploit the whole incredible potential of ProPhoto.

If you want to optimize your workflow you'd better choose your color space depending on each photo and their saturation before and after edition for one thing and its final use on the other hand: sRGB if you work with a foggy weather and ProPhoto if you're shooting scenes with more saturated colors or if you like HDR, for instance.

The proverb saying that what can do the most can do the least seems to apply to ProPhoto. All your photos won't necessarily be more beautiful but you're not taking any risk and you're sure to guarantee your chances in case of photos with saturated colors, at the shooting or in post-production!

You shouldn't be ashamed of using sRGB because it is sometimes more than enough. Limited but enough. It all depends on what you want to do with your images... I often use it!

 

What color management for the web? suivre


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Summary > Color management > sRGB, Adobe RGB or ProPhoto?
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