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Adobe RGB vs. sRGB -- which one?
I've been reading forums and found that a lot of people don't think sRGB is good to shoot in. However, my camera (Canon 400D) manual warns that Adobe RGB needs a lot of post-processing. I'm not averse to post-processing and have had great results just doing little things like adjusting white balance, but due to cost I don't have Photoshop. I have a photo book that suggests shooting in RAW+JPG, with RAW set to Adobe RGB and the JPG set to sRGB, but I can't see if that's possible on the 400D..

Should I switch to Adobe RGB? If I do, what do I need to get the color back in my pictures?.

Thanks,.

David..

Comments (20)

I think you may get a raft of different answers to this one. I think personally that sRGB is more widely accepted and more convenient to use. If you shoot sRGB it can processed on your PC and the colours will look correct on the monitor, it will display correctly on the WEB and al msot all commercial photo print companies use sRGB as a standard..

You might benefit shooting Adobe if you do mostly home printing and are not so bothered about how the image looks on screen and are not so concerned with posting your photos on the WEB..

The real crux is that by using Adobe you are liable to complicate your workflow and add additional considerations for little or no benefit in most circumstances. Many professionals might suggest otherwise on here but that's my personal view...

Comment #1

David_C_W wrote:.

I've been reading forums and found that a lot of people don't thinksRGB is good to shoot in..

Beware of forum posters who get hold of half an understanding of a subject then repeat it until it becomes the accepted wisdom..

The only advantage of AdobeRGB is that it can handle a slightly wider range of colours. This is a benefit only if (a) your images actually use those colours, and (b) your monitor and/or printer are capable of showing them, and (c) you are proficient enough to squeeze that last bit of quality out of your images..

On most monitors - all but the very, very best professional kit - you will see *no* difference..

Many processing labs use only sRGB so you will see *no* difference..

Many desktop printers will show little or no difference..

If your work is destined for commercial litho print, you will see *no* difference..

And where there is no benefit to using AdobeRGB, it will always be simpler to use sRGB..

However, my camera (Canon 400D) manualwarns that Adobe RGB needs a lot of post-processing..

That's not true but I guess you are paraphrasing what the manual says and you have inadvertently changed the meaning. If you are working in an sRGB environment as most non-professionals are, you *must* post-process AdobeRGB images so that they will display/print correctly, particularly on systems which are not colour-space aware. This is not necessary with sRGB images..

Basically the manual is warning you away from AdobeRGB unless you are familiar with colour management, and that is good advice..

I have a photo book that suggests shooting in RAW+JPG,with RAW set to Adobe RGB and the JPG set to sRGB, but I can't see ifthat's possible on the 400D..

You can't set RAW to sRGB, because a RAW file doesn't have a colour profile. Applying the colour profile is something which happens later, when the RAW file is processed to JPG (or PSD, TIFF etc.). However, what you can do is shoot RAW+JPEG (which the 400D can do), with the camera set to sRGB which will give you easy-to-handle sRGB JPEGs. The RAW files can be used to make AdobeRGB files if you ever need to, when you have the know-how, and if you have access to the equipment to print them. Could be handy when you take that competition-winning shot!..

Comment #2

Thank you both. Your responses have pretty well reassured me that I don't need Adobe RGB..

Steve, thank you especially for clearing up some of my misunderstandings of things I've read. I was paraphrasing from both the book and the manual, and with your clear explanation I now see what these references meant. My learning style is that I like to gather as much information as possible, engulf myself in more than I can possibly understand at once, then slowly things explain themselves to me with practice and error. This inevitably means I'll make more mistakes at the beginning than a step-by-step learning process..

In fact I shoot in JPG and RAW (with HDD space so cheap, why not?), so I'll leave it in sRGB and not worry about it from here on out.David..

Comment #3

Check out this article in the Digital Rebel FAQ:http://www.flickr.com/.../groups/digital_rebel_faq/discuss/72157594484170784/..

Comment #4

... thanks. I have been wondering about this too and your post is the most helpful one I've read on the subject.Best wishesMike..

Comment #5

Photoshop Elements 6 isnt bad for 80 bucks from Amazon. Its much better than Elements 5 due to enhanced RAW handling and the addition of 16-bit processing. Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 is also pretty good and cost 71 bucks..

AdobeRGB doesnt require any more processing than sRGB. I dont know why the manual says that. The real problem is that, by default, computers and printers are setup for sRGB. Making sure that all processes occur in AdobeRGB is sometimes a bit trying. But once youve figured that out theres no difference in actual images manipulations..

There are a few professional photographers on this forum that only shoot JPEGs in sRGB, so obviously sRGB can reach a level of quality that people feel comfortable paying money for..

The biggest problem with working in AdobeRGB is understanding that some of the colors you see on your monitor are not being represented accurately. There are some greens, for example, that your camera can capture and your printer can print...but your monitor cannot display because theyre outside the sRGB colorspace. But if you understand why the colors don't match then it's not a big deal, especially when you see that the printed colors are closer to the true colors then the computer monitor..

If all youre doing is setting white-balance and letting colors lie where they fall, then you can take advantage of AdobeRGB. But if you expect to print colors exactly as you see them on your monitor then you must work in sRGB (along with making sure your monitor and printer are calibrated.).

Canon cameras tend to brighten exposure a tiny bit and boost color saturation a bit on the JPEGs they produce. Also, remember that other processing occurs in creating a JPEG (white-balance, sharpening, contrast, etc.). In reference to color only, I personally have found that a slight increase in EV of .5 to .75 (also called Exposure Compensation) combined with a small color boost will give my RAW images the same color look as my JPEGs (of course, Im comparing the pair of images produced from a single capture.) I then save as a 16-bit tiff in AdobeRGB. When I print such an image, it looks almost exactly like the JPEG print except that greens and yellows seem to be more accurate. I believe thats because the camera is capturing greens that are outside the sRGB space but within the ability of my printer to reproduce..

When an AdobeRGB image is printed and the colors are dark or dull or just off somehow, that usually means that the either a bad colorspace transformation occurred, or the embedded profile tag (which tell the software what colorspace to use) was missing, set incorrectly, or lost at some point during processing. In either case, you have to go back to the original image and find the point where the colorspace information was lost. I think that it usually happens when the workingspace is not set to AdobeRGB. In this case the image is transformed to sRGB when opened. When printed it will print as an sRGB image, but if a person doesnt understand whats happening then he will set the printer up as AdobeRGB. THAT will cause a bad print for sure..

My settings are:Paint Shop Pro working profile  AdobeRGBPaint Shop Pro color management  OFFPSE color management  Optimized for Printer.

PSE printing settings  Printer Profile = Printer Color Management (yes, I let the printer manage it's own color. It does a great job.)Printer settings  ICM color management, profile = AdobeRGB.

These settings always give me the right colors from AdobeRGB tiffs...

Comment #6

Graystar, thanks. Your post is one I'm gonna have to print out and refer to periodically until I understand it all..

My manual didn't say AdobeRGB requires more processing that was my misunderstanding. What is said was that it would required knowledge of Adobe design rule for digital in order to post-process correctly. I misinterpreted, and Steve set me straight..

I don't actually print anything from home, because I work for a place that does marketing material. So far, I've just sent my photos to someone in the art department and they convert to CMYK and print on one of our big commercial printers. Of course, I can't do that very often or they'll fire me, but it DOES result in fantastic prints..

David..

Comment #7

Ive sent several JPEGs practically straight out of my 7MP compact camera (only resized the canvas) to MPix for 16x20 prints (due to resizing the canvas, the actual image came out to be roughly 12 x 15 on the paper.) These were sRGB images and the prints came out fantastic..

I definitely recommend sticking with sRGB until you start wondering why some colors arent coming out true to life, and then understand why AdobeRGB might give you truer colors in those particular instances. Then you can decide if its worth the trouble...

Comment #8

I shoot RGB from the camera to the other end. the colors are fine. you should know that sRGB is a subset of RGB. that is, if you shoot RGB you can get sRGB at any time you wish in photoshop, but if you shoot sRGB you really cannot get a true RGB later, the colors are just not there, and they were not there to begin with. Because they were not shot and saved to your memory card during the shot. there is also a slight increase in the camera's headroom if it is set to RGB; the storage tank, as it were, is bigger.



If you shoot raw, then it does not matter. You can create either when you do the raw conversion..

The important single point in talking and using color gamuts is that once the pic is made from the raw or is coming via a download from the camera: you do not change it till you are done. What you do not want to do is shoot RGB, have your pp software and monitor set to sRGB, then print RGB..

I send my 16x 20 and 20x30 matte to kodakgallery.com and my panoramas and 16x20 and 20x30 glossy to jumbogiant.com they both use photographic techs to work on prints and image files. so for them it doesn't matter if they get a RGB they adjust it themselves. From either the color are fine. I print my own if 8x10 and smaller but the printer is set to RGB. that is what I meant earlier when I said I use RGB beginning to end...

Comment #9

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

Many processing labs use only sRGB so you will see *no* difference..

Yes. .

Many desktop printers will show little or no difference..

It depends on how well they are set up, but essentially, Yes..

If your work is destined for commercial litho print, you will see*no* difference..

No. That is NOT correct, as far as I'm concerned..

Making CMYK separations from RGB files is best done from the wider space of Adobe RGB originals, not sRGB ones. This is the reason printing and publishing industry prefers files supplied in AdobeRGB(1998) colour space. The difference isn't huge, but it is worthwhile, assuming the man who does the eventual conversion knows what he is doing....

... apparently the big problem being getting skies to remain something close to blue instead of turning mid-grey. For this reason you should not produce CMYK separations of your own unless you are trained and know what you are doing....(I am a pro photographer, but I certainly don't mess with CMYK separations.).

And where there is no benefit to using AdobeRGB, it will always besimpler to use sRGB..

Yes, although using Adobe isn't a huge problem, frankly. What you do is....

1) Set camera to Adobe space... (you can't convert to Adobe colours, you have to SHOOT in the right space to get them.).

2) Set 'Working Space' of editing program to Adobe space. In Photoshop this done in Colour Settings Box (Note: Photoshop defaults to sRGB working, so you have to act to change it to Adobe).

3) When processing RAWs, select Adobe as target space in your RAW software..

Subsequent use of your image files.........

4) Supply Adobe space files to client/4-colour-litho-house for printing by PRESS to produce brochures leaflets, journals, magazines. (Note: newspapers, especially local ones, sometimes prefer sRGB).

5) Supply Adobe files to your desktop inkjet printer (should provide extended gamut, but will only show if those more saturated colours are actually in your subjects as shot.. see (1) above.).

6) Supply Adobe files to commercial printing house ONLY if they specifically state the're acceptable... otherwise CONVERT (not Assign) to sRGB space before supply..

7) Images for the WEB should be CONVERTED to sRGB before supply/uploading, although this may change in the future as more browsers are becoming colour savvy..

How about the MONITOR?.

Well you don't have to do anything to the monitor... except....

Ensure that the colours and tones are shown as accurate to the file as possible, which is best achieved with a hardware calibration puck, which software makes a correction profile SPECIFIC to your sample of monitor and which is loaded at computer boot-up by a special 'LOADER' program.

So that ALL programs running on the computer have the benefit of accurate colour, not just your colour-critical photo editing ones..

Note: When working in Adobe space the monitor will not be able to show the whole range of more saturated colours that Adobe encompasses, unless you have spent a fortune on an "Adobe Capable" monitor. Don't worry about this deficiency of normal monitors. Mostly any "surprises" you get when your edited images are printed.......

..... will be pleasant ones........ okay!?  .

However, my camera (Canon 400D) manualwarns that Adobe RGB needs a lot of post-processing..

Hmmm..... Adobe colour space needs no more processing, just more awareness of when to convert to sRGB... .

Basically the manual is warning you away from AdobeRGB unless you arefamiliar with colour management, and that is good advice..

I agree. That IS what is being said, and I agree that the advice is pretty good advice..

In other words there is nothing WRONG about sRGB space, and to suggest that it is somehow seriously deficient compared with Adobe space.. IS wrong... (see final conclusions below)..

I have a photo book that suggests shooting in RAW+JPG,with RAW set to Adobe RGB and the JPG set to sRGB, but I can't see if.

You can't set RAW to sRGB, because a RAW file doesn't have a colourprofile. Applying the colour profile is something which happenslater, when the RAW file is processed to JPG (or PSD, TIFF etc.).However, what you can do is shoot RAW+JPEG (which the 400D can do),with the camera set to sRGB which will give you easy-to-handle sRGBJPEGs. The RAW files can be used to make AdobeRGB files if you everneed to, when you have the know-how, and if you have access to theequipment to print them. Could be handy when you take thatcompetition-winning shot!.

Yes. I am happy to endorse Steve's final paragraph (above) in it's entirety..

I hope the additional advice of my own has been helpful..

Final conclusions.:-.

A) Stick with sRGB, until you know you have a good reason to change to Adobe..

B) Before changing to Adobe, [if that every seems to be the right thing to do] be careful to learn the in-and-outs of conversion back to sRGB for those occasions when the smaller colour space continues to be preferred..

Good day.. Good Luck! Regards,Baz..

Comment #10

Thanks Baz! This thread's been hugely informative and cleared up a lot of my confusion from my references and from other threads. Thanks again.David..

Comment #11

David_C_W wrote:.

My learning style is that I like togather as much information as possible, engulf myself in more than Ican possibly understand at once, then slowly things explainthemselves to me with practice and error. This inevitably means I'llmake more mistakes at the beginning than a step-by-step learningprocess..

Then, try reading this on color managementits long, but good!.

Http://forums.dpreview.com/...forums/read.asp?forum=1039&message=27177698.

Ed..

Comment #12

Barrie Davis wrote:.

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

If your work is destined for commercial litho print, you will see*no* difference..

No. That is NOT correct, as far as I'm concerned..

Ok that wasn't 100% accurate but I'm trying to keep this simple. There is very little benefit in using AdobeRGB for commercial print because the areas where Adobe RGB offers a wider gamut mostly (mostly) can't be reproduced using standard CMYK litho inks..

But do send AdobeRGB to National Geographic ..

Comment #13

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

Barrie Davis wrote:.

Steve Balcombe wrote:.

If your work is destined for commercial litho print, you will see*no* difference..

No. That is NOT correct, as far as I'm concerned..

Ok that wasn't 100% accurate but I'm trying to keep this simple.There is very little benefit in using AdobeRGB for commercial printbecause the areas where Adobe RGB offers a wider gamut mostly(mostly) can't be reproduced using standard CMYK litho inks..

According to Martin Evening..........

Http://www.photoshopforphotographers.com/.

And the late lamented Bruce Frazer.....

Http://www.colorremedies.com/realworldcolor/.

It is true that the gamut of (a typical) CMYK inkset on gloss paper is smaller even than sRGB, however, due to a quirk of the conversion process itself, what CMYK gamut there is can be maximised if Adobe is the starting point..

But do send AdobeRGB to National Geographic .

To my clients I send images as Adobe Tiffs also and additionally as sRGB Jpegs. For the sake of clarity they are in separate folders labelled as follows....

" Adobe Tiffs (litho) "" sRGB Jpegs (web) "Regards,Baz..

Comment #14

The rule of thumb is to always shoot in the widest color gamut that you can. You always loose something when the image is purposed so just try to suck it all in and deal with color space later. I hope this helps. You can check me out at http://www.brucekersten.comBest reagards..

Comment #15

This is a quote from Golden State Images and I hope they won't mind me copying and pasting here as can only recommend their site and mention the link below..

I found what they say as interestignand had no idae that the space is not embedded..

Am I right in understanding that you can use what space you want as long as you match what was shot in the camera with the space that you post process in in PhotoShop?jules.

Http://www.goldenstateimages.com/digital_workflow.htm..

Comment #16

Sorry I forgot the quote....

Color Space - Adobe RGB 1998  Keep in mind, with raw files the color space is not imbedded in the image data itself but rather is stored as a separate format setting which is applied to the image data later during post processing. It can be changed during post processing. To keep the description simple, we use the Adobe RGB 1998 setting because it provides the widest possible color space or gamut. The wider the color space the more colors and subtle shades of color and contrast that can be recorded..

Note when using color spaces other than the sRGB standard you need to be sure that all the image editing applications you are using are configured to use the correct color space. Some programs such as PhotoShop will automatically recognize the color space as an image is being opened. Others like Nikon Capture have a preference setting which must be manually set..

Jules.

JulesJ wrote:.

This is a quote from Golden State Images and I hope they won't mindme copying and pasting here as can only recommend their site andmention the link below.i found what they say as interestignand had no idae that the space isnot embedded.Am I right in understanding that you can use what space you want aslong as you match what was shot in the camera with the space that youpost process in in PhotoShop?jules.

Http://www.goldenstateimages.com/digital_workflow.htm.

Why can't you blow bubbles with chewing gum?..

Comment #17

JulesJ wrote:.

This is a quote from Golden State Images and I hope they won't mindme copying and pasting here as can only recommend their site andmention the link below..

I found what they say as interestignand had no idae that the space isnot embedded..

Colour space can be embedded or non-embedded... it depends on what facilities the camera offers..

Am I right in understanding that you can use what space you want aslong as you match what was shot in the camera with the space that youpost process in in PhotoShop?.

Yes and no (Sorry, but you DID ask!).

Photoshop is very flexible in how it handles colour spaces, and can work with multiple colour spaces at one time..

So, whilst it is simpler to use a "working space" that is the same as the shooting space used in the camera (and that's what I recommend) you don't absolutely have to with full blown versions of Photoshop (CS2/3 etc.). Indeed it is possible to have multiple image files open in Photoshop, with each one in a different space..... and each of those spaces different to the working space if you wish......

..... and ALL of them correctly displayed on-screen (through the monitor profile) as well..

I do not think any other image editing program is capable of keeping quite so many [coloured] balls in the air as Photoshop is. .

Regards,Baz..

Comment #18

JulesJ wrote:.

Snip...

Tokeep the description simple, we use the Adobe RGB 1998 settingbecause it provides the widest possible color space or gamut..

Adobe space not "widest possible" by any means.......

ProPhoto colour space is much wider than AdobeRGB(1998), but by common consent amongst most of the people I know, it is too wide for smooth transitions in 8 bit images, so is best restricted to 16 bit use, if it is used at all. [see step ladder analogy below]..

Thewider the color space the more colors and subtle shades of color andcontrast that can be recorded..

Whoops! I can't agree with that. Sorry. It is rather more accurate to state that......

The wider the RANGE of colours that fall *within* the [wide] colour space's limits, which is not at all the same thing as actually "recording" them all..

What's more, it is the very subtlety of the colours that suffers most when extra wide spaces are used, and this subtlety is lost whether the super saturated colours are present in the shot or NOT...... something which many people forget..

Please remember that the number of available numerical levels remains the same with the wider the space as with the narrower one.... 256 each RGB values in the case of 8 bit, with the gaps where no recording possible much wider in the wider space.... it being the width of the gaps that makes the tonal subtlety and smooth colour transitions that much harder to retain..

A useful analogy may be a that of the ladder with, let's say, 12 rungs only..

If the rungs are far apart we can reach to higher elevations, but with rather less resolution in the individual heights on the way up. On the other hand, if our ladder has the same 12 rungs but closer together, we can't get to the same dizzy heights, but where we *can* get to is much finer controlled..

And so it is that in colour terms the smaller spaces are sometimes preferred, for portraiture for instance, where really smooth skin tones are sought after, but the need for recording distractingly bright colour in the dress of the sitters definitely is not..

Note when using color spaces other than the sRGB standard you need tobe sure that all the image editing applications you are using areconfigured to use the correct color space. Some programs such asPhotoShop will automatically recognize the color space as an image isbeing opened..

Photoshop will recognise files that have their colour space *embedded* and open them without any further action if the working space is a match..

Photoshop's file opening behaviour when there is a colour space mismatch depends on how the "ask when" boxes are checked in the "Color Settings Box" to which I referred in an earlier post. My own policy is to have all "ask whens" checked, and I would suggest everybody did the same. That way Photoshop keeps you informed when anything steps out o' line, color-management-wise, and requires positive discriminatory action on the part of the user....

.. so we are obliged by the program to be aware of what we are doing, which, after a bit of practise, is of itself very reassuring, I find.Regards,Baz..

Comment #19

Bruker wrote:.

The rule of thumb is to always shoot in the widest color gamut thatyou can. You always loose something when the image is purposed sojust try to suck it all in and deal with color space later. I hopethis helps. You can check me out at http://www.brucekersten.com.

Err, no. (Another comment I don't agree with, I'm afraid].

It is not wise to shoot in a larger space than you need, because it reduces headroom for tonal and colour editing leading to an increased chance of posterisation, (lack of smooth tonal transitions)..

However, this matters a good deal less if you never feel the need for editing, or shoot RAW and edit in 16 bit as a matter of course.Regards,Baz..

Comment #20

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This question was taken from a support group/message board and re-posted here so others can learn from it.

 

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