The age-old question of which color space to shoot in, sRGB or Adobe RGB, tends to confuse beginners and those adventurous enough to finally read the manual. The argument, in one form or another, is plastered across some forum every few months or so with the consensus usually being sRGB for web content and Adobe RGB for print. This understanding was fine in the past, but as sRGB gamut begins to show its age and with the introduction of wider color gamut displays, standards progress.

The P3 color space has become quite popular in the last couple of years. Like Adobe RGB, P3 is a wide-gamut alternative to sRGB. Starting out as a standard for digital cinema, DCI-P3, reproduced the color range created by the type of digital projector you’d find at a theater. Apple created their own version called Display P3, adapting it for computer displays, like their iMac line, since late 2010. Newer iPhones and iPads also display the P3 color space, making their product line consistent; unlike Android devices which are all over the board in terms of color. Other companies, such as Microsoft, have also made displays with a P3 gamut for their Surface Studio.


P3 vs Out of Gamut
4th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition (Fireworks)
Image courtesy of Sunny Merindo

Beyond sRGB

With the rapid adoption of wide-gamut displays in smartphones, laptops, and monitors, sRGB is falling out of favor. Image-based social communities have taken note of these wider color spaces, and earlier this year Instagram announced that it will support wider color spaces for the devices sporting the P3 color spectrum; now 500px supports searchable wide-gamut images as well as support for the WebP image format.


Though sRGB has been standard in our industry for many years, with today’s broad adoption of iPhones and wide-gamut displays we can finally showcase each image in a more true-to-life way and allow searching by color profile,” said Kelly Thompson, Vice President of 500px. “Our flexible image resizing and delivery system renders WebP compressed files to browsers and apps that support the format, further enhancing the experience with smaller file sizes and quicker downloads. As more efficient file compression options arise, we’ll be leading the way delivering those formats to our members.

Following the industry norm, 500px had previously converted non-sRGB images to sRGB for the broadest display compatibility, but now the marketplace will deliver images in the color space they were taken in to “stay truer to the photographer’s original vision.”

500px told SLR Lounge one of the main reasons they added the ability to search for wide profiles is that particular customers are looking to license images shot with specific equipment, in a specific color profile.  An exmaple would be manufacturers who are always looking for exceptional demo images of their products.

With Adobe offering 30% more colors than sRGB, and P3 25% more, the wider-gamut profiles offer deeper, richer colors, not previously reproducible on standard sRGB displays.

JPG vs WebP
Praying Mantis
Image courtesy of Roberto Aldrovandi

Support for WebP

Over the past month, 500px has also been rolling out support for WebP, Google’s new image standard providing lossless compression for images on the web. Chrome and Android users will benefit from the strong 25 percent reduction in file sizes with similar or better image quality.

The 500px image delivery system is flexible enough that as new technologies in color and file format are introduced and become mainstream, 500px will be on the forefront of adopting and integrating them.”

This is all great news, and it also it hopefully a kick in the rear for Android systems to finally get color managed.