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Inspiration

sRGB vs. Adobe RGB | Which Should You Use?

By Trevor Dayley on December 18th 2015

One of the most frequently asked questions in photography is whether it is better to edit in sRGB or Adobe RGB. To answer this question, I’ll be giving you a few reasons as to why I think one of these is better than the other. These are just my opinions and what has worked for myself and my business.

sRGB vs. Adobe RGB Video

The video below is sponsored by CG Pro Prints.


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sRGB or Adobe RGB

There are three color spaces that are among the most popular: sRGB, Adobe RGB, and ProPhoto RGB. When you are in Lightroom and go to Export your image, under “File Settings” is where you can select you preferred color space.

srgb-or-adobe-rgb

Yes, selecting Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB will give you a larger portion of the color spectrum to work with but essentially, sRGB is the one color space that is the most applicable across a multitude of platforms.

I have personally used sRGB for the last five years, and many of the printers and monitors that I have come across are all using the sRGB color space. It would just be more difficult in managing color profiles that many people ultimately will not be able to see. In fact, many of your clients’ computers and the printers you send your images to do not have the capacity to read or print Adobe RGB.

In addition to monitors and printers, many browsers and social media platforms like Facebook will often warp the color profiles of your Adobe RGB images as they too are only able to read sRGB files. Simply shooting in sRGB would really help in eliminating any issues or potential issues you may have in terms of image color.

[REWIND: A BREAKDOWN OF COLOR SPACES | YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE A GRASP ON THIS]

Conclusion

What do you color profile do you edit in and why? Comment below!

Thanks for watching! If you would like more information about how to increase your efficiency in Lightroom, check out our Lightroom Workshop where we show you everything from how to organize your images to mastering post production. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos, tutorials, and updates!

Trevor Dayley is a full-time wedding photographer based out of Arizona. He has six kids and has been married for 15 years. When he is not shooting weddings, he loves helping the photo industry. He has written hundreds of articles and shared countless tutorials. In 2014, he was named one of the Top 30 Most Influential Photographers in the Industry and one of the Top 100 Wedding Photographers by BrandSmash.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rozely Lindim

    in wedding situation I’ve use the sRGB for Jpeg and RAW file.

    when uploading the file to the computer and viewing both, color from RAW file are much better in Photoshop and software that supports adobe rgb. I usually edit RAW file in PS then convert it to sRGB jpeg before posting online. 

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  2. Sergey Middle

    Everyone talks about Adobe RGB in terms of Photoshopping/photo editing. But, what about videos? Can you watch videos in this profile?
    If you have, what are your experiences?
    PS Possibly, you need some special video-players?

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  3. Brandon Price

    I recently purchased a monitor that displays the full Adobe RGB color spectrum. My question is, what happens when you look at an sRGB photo with the monitor set to Adobe RGB but edit sRGB files? Should it in theory look the same, or does the Adobe RGB mess with the look of the sRGB?

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  4. Rita Rich

    A note to graphic artists creating Logos for Podcasters…it’s very important for you to create art using the RGB setting in Photoshop. sRGB will be rejected by iTunes.

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  5. David Beck

    Save to sRGB color profile after shooting in RAW unless you intend to print in Adobe RGB or client asks for that. RAW is independent of color space. When In Photoshop or Lightroom – only work in Adobe RGB if your monitor is designed for that. Those are professional monitors and generally pricey such as Eizo range with self calibration correction. Make sure the Monitor specs specifically mention covers Adobe RGB 99% color range so you can accurately edit that color range in post production. In other words, using Lightroom on a mid priced laptop that only supports sRGB on screen will not depict Adobe RGB color tones accurately.

    I agree with the general consensus here, sRGB is fine for most clients as that is what consumers use or what clients expect, especially for all the web stuff now with the tablets and smartphones in wide use which all use sRGB. I prefer it for my shots,

    The Adobe RGB crowd are generally graphic designers that work with high end reproduction print houses that require that wider color range for some printed Editorial or Advertising work. I worked with them both for many years as a Computer Engineer and if you want the very best printed work, send it to them and do not print yourself. They use 200 K dollar printers and proof readers and have experts that use them who understand the intricacies of the EPS Postscript workflow and full color separation. Professional printing is complex and way above my limited expertise.

    Lynda.com has some brilliant video training about professional printing and color management by Adobe experts. Check it out.

    What is good though, is that today many consumer inkjets give amazing results today if used properly and ought to be sufficient for most photographers for portfolio work to show clients their large prints or sell printed images themselves.

    Beware of browser gimmicks on some Apple Macs since the browsers like Safari may display the Adobe RGB color space for uploaded images but the Apple Mac screen may not support it. Check the Mac specs as most monitors on Mac and PC do not support the full Adobe RGB color gamut. They are designed for consumers.

    As I said before, for Adobe RGB buy an external monitor that supports it for retouch work and make sure your computer matches the technical specification required by Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom or Phase One Capture One.

    One overlooked requirement for Photoshop is that is requires a good 2D Renderer Video Card that supports Open GL 2.0 to work best. Such as Nvidia Quadro range. But, that only kicks in for memory intensive edits such as Liquify or some filters or when using Non Destructive Smart Objects. It is not really essential to have. It just takes longer to do stuff. Adobe also recommend a dedicated SSD Drive for the primary and scratch disk in Photoshop which I think is a better investment than an Open GL Card.

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  6. Carolyn Dingus

    As far as I know, there is no advantage in using sRGB until you actually need it, and there ARE possible disadvantages. I would continue exporting to TIFF/16bit/AdobeRGB, and avoid sRGB until the last minute. You may not have been able to see the differences in your test, but that all depends on what you were looking at. Two screen versions? If so, what quality screen? Two printouts? If so, what quality printer? You might not see the difference now, but there is one and it may show up one day in the future when you go to make a high-quality print. Or buy a new monitor. You can always go from AdobeRGB to sRGB, but not vice-versa!

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  7. Sean Tatalovich

    I usually capture in Capture One and export as tiff/16bit/Adobe RGB. Do my post and then export at sRGB/8bit. Would it make a difference if I export tiff/16bit/sRGB for post editing. I exported from C1 same images tiff/16bit/Adobe RGB and tiff/16bit/sRGB and I can’t see a difference.

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  8. Fisnik Islami

    its a problem when you export a file and upload it on facebook, it loses so much quality ,is there any help

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    • Michael None

      Export as a 2048 wide sRGB jpeg. Upload from your desktop, not your phone. Should do the trick.

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  9. Carolyn Dingus

    Wow! That’s wonderful. I have notions and a fundamental understanding of what you’re talking about, but not the experience. I agree with all you say about equipment, I just meant to differentiate between people who click and don’t care, vs those who do care. For myself, I constantly shift between trying to become more technically proficient and then trying to amp up my creativity. In the end, what I want is the confidence that I can do s shoot and please my client, and I want to create images that are special, and that people really enjoy.

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  10. Carolyn Dingus

    I am actually a geek, if not an engineer, so I kind of enjoy mastering complex technologies. It makes me nuts when I can’t. Professionalism in any area generally implies some depth of skill. But so many people today live in a world made up of images created and seen only on iPhones and iPads. They certainly aren’t photographers, but they account for the most images these days, I think. They care about their images, but only to a very limited extent – not bothering to straighten or crop one even when they have the tools. So maybe we need a new word – maybe “picturist” – to refer to them! As for photographer, I think you’re only a professional when you know how to process and print them (or output them to the desired media). That requires a lot of additional knowledge, and that’s what I’m looking for on these forums. I want to be able to call myself a professional some day.

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    • Jon Pastor

      Carolyn-

      I understand what you’re saying, and I agree that there is a difference between casual picture-takers and people who consider picture-taking a serious form of expression. but I have to take issue with basing the application of the term “photographer” on any litmus test, particularly one having to do with equipment.

      Equipment is not what makes an excellent photograph: it’s the eye behind the equipment, and the knowledge and experience to use it well. Yes, with more sophisticated equipment it’s always been possible to do things that are not possible with simpler equipment, but there have been great photographs taken with pinhole cameras.

      Also, keep in mind that there have _always_ been casual picture-takers and more serious ones. The difference today is that every Tom, Joan, and Harriet can put every image out in public view, rather than letting them sit in albums in a closet, so the casual picture-takers are infinitely more _visible_ than ever before.

      As far as “professional” goes, I have been shooting, processing, and printing images in BW and color for (gulp) fifty years. I’ve studied optics and sensitomertry and photographic chemistry; I formulated my own developers from raw ingredients like Metol, Hydroquinone, and Phenidone. I have always worked with professional-grade equipment: Nikon cameras and a 4×5 Beseler enlarger with a dichroic color head and a color analyzer, and now Nikon and Panasonic (Leitz lenses) DSLRs, Lightroom and Photoshop, and HPZ3200PS and Canon PIXMA Pro-1 printers.

      Am I a professional? Technically, yes — not because of anything in the previous paragraph, but because I make money from my photographic pursuits. I do think that I’m justified in calling myself an _expert_, however, because of my training and experience — but that makes me an accomplished technician, not a professional anything, much less an artist. My technique enables me to capture, process, and render my images to bring out the best in them — but if the content isn’t there, no amount of technique is going to make them good photographs.

      Can I do more, more consistently, than someone with a phone camera? Of course I can, but I’ve worked at it very hard for a very long time, and I have controls available to me that enable me to do things that a phone camera can’t be made to do. But under the right conditions, someone with a phone camera can take a photograph that I’d give my right arm to have taken.

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    • Michael None

      To me, a “professional” is someone who gets paid to do the work they are doing. If you are fixing your dishwasher you are a handyman. If you are getting paid to fix a dishwasher for someone else, you are a professional repairman. If you get paid to take photos, you are a pro. If not, you are a hobbyist, enthusiast, whatever. Both types are still photographers though.

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  11. Carolyn Dingus

    There are SO MANY issues here. For example, I’m a strong believer in shooting RAW images, for the reasons I discussed above re: JPG files. But you must realize that a RAW image has to be interpreted, someplace, into a standardized file format. The camera might do that, as it does with JPG in-camera, or you could let Lightroom or Photoshop do it, or some other software. In each case, you might get a DIFFERENT RESULT based on the algorithm baked into that particular device or software. Printing images is a whole other ball of wax. You’ve got RGB, but there is also CYMK. And there are different gamuts there, also, to which your image must be translated by some algorithm, either in your software or the device. I don’t understand it all perfectly, which is why I was asking print-related questions here. But it is WAY more complicated than most people want to discuss, even geek-type photographers. I remember when it was hard to get people to understand the difference between screen resolution (pixels) and printer resolution (dpi), so they were scanning in unprintable images. If you go the whole nine yard with this camera-file-software-monitor-output conundrum, it seems like you practically have to be an engineer!

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    • Kristian Hollund

      As a hobbyist in visual effects I am used to working in linear mode, where there’s a whole other level of colours your monitor can’t show you, but that it’s important not to lose because all that information can be used for lighting and shading. You kind of have to understand the concepts. And in this area you use HDRi images typically captured by camera, so this is how I personally learned more about it. I think it’s very interesting to capture a location in this way in addition to normal pictures, but I’m drifting off topic.

      Anyway, for many designers and photographers I talk to color space seems to be a big mystery apart from the fact that they know about RGB and CMYK. It just fits into the whole unprofessionalism that I think some professions get because it’s so easy to call yourself a photographer just because you have a DSLR.

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  12. Carolyn Dingus

    @ Jon – I believe JPG is always 8-bit. And JPG is also compressed. So sRGB JPG files suffer in two ways: they map the color gamut to fewer actual colors, and they are also compressed so that similar colors are mapped to a single color, as well. And this happens EVERY TIME you open, change, and then save the file. If you notice, on the Lightroom export screen, for example, there is no bit-depth choice when you select JPG. If you select TIFF, however, Lightroom would let you specify 8-bit or 16-bit. You could save a TIFF file in sRGB colorspace, as 8-bit or 16-bit. So file size is really determined by whether or not it is JPG, not the colorspace. SUMMARY: The JPG-sRGB combo is the worst. WORST. But it saves file space.

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  13. Carolyn Dingus

    Oh, where to begin? This article and its thinking are waaaaaaaaaay out of date. As so many others have pointed out above, today’s monitors and printers (even home printers) often support a color gamut beyond sRGB, so you’re throwing that image improvement away when you limit yourself to sRGB. sRGB is basically just for the web these days. Once you smush your file into sRGB colorspace, you can’t get it back without re-doing all your adjustments! Only one way to go: Keep your file in AdobeRGB or ProPhoto RGB. If you need a JPG for the internet, export one in sRGB. But make your adjustments on the higher-quality file, so if someday you want to print the file or look it on a high-quality screen, you can! This may take up a little more HD space, but these days you can get a 4TB drive for less than $200.

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    • Jon Pastor

      Carolyn – Your point about the trivial cost of storage is well-taken, but I believe (although I may be wrong) that the choice of colorspace has minimal, if any, effect on file size. RAW vs JPG, 16- vs 8-bit, yes, definitely, but I’d be surprised if the colorspace is more than a single small field in the metadata for an image file.

      Anyone know for sure?

      My point in my last post was that if there is no cost to working in the largest colorspace available, why not do it? I’d like to hear from people who disagree — I’m not always (or even necessarily usually) right, and if there’s a valid argument for using a smaller colorspace I’d like to hear it.

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    • Jon Pastor

      I wanted to add something to my reply, but it doesn’t appear to be possible to edit comments(?!).

      I’d also be interested in comments about rendering intents, since they weren’t mentioned at all in the discussion to the point at which I brought them up, and since they’re sort of critical in mapping from working space to device space I’d have expected them to come up. Any thoughts on rendering intents?

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    • Kristian Hollund

      Jon: Actually most of the space a RAW file uses is color data that is unnecessary to a JPEG/sRGB end result. But even then a camera is obviously limited because it can only capture a certain range of colour. It’s certainly possible to strip a lot of things a photographer wouldn’t need and still retain all the colours though.

      I have done some work with HDRi’s that are bracketed panoramas, converted from RAW to EXR format. These are worked in using 32 bit linear workflow until the end result is produced. This does indeed require a lot of space, but as I see it space is cheap. So space shouldn’t be a limit today, there’s multi TB hard drives for next to nothing and off-site cloud storage is cheap for unlimited space.

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  14. Jon Pastor

    I have a very simple question for those who are suggesting working in sRGB — IF there is an option to work in Adobe RGB or, better, in ProPhoto RGB (of course, if you have no choice, you have no choice, but most modern devices and software will support Adobe RGB, so it’s somewhat unlikely that you’re STUCK with it):

    Presuming that you’re working with RAW files, why, oh why, would you want to reduce the range of colors available to you before you absolutely MUST? What does working in ProPhoto RGB cost you? Worst case, you have a monitor (or printer) that can’t render the whole space and it will map colors accordingly; best case, you’re using a wide-gamut monitor (like my Samsung XL24) and a relatively recent printer, which can display outside Adobe RGB in at least some regions of the space.

    I’m sort of surprised that nobody has mentioned rendering intents: since output devices have typically had smaller gamuts than the working spaces of image editing software, it’s always been necessary to map colors from that larger color space to the smaller one (although some modern output devices cover most or all of Adobe RGB).

    See

    http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/6088/rendering-intents-compared/,
    https://lehcan.wordpress.com/utopics/22-2/, and
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/color-space-conversion.htm

    for good explanations with a variety of graphical depictions of the process.

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  15. Kristian Hollund

    It seems like there’s a lot of confusion here to be honest. I think we should clarify that if you edit in anything other than sRGB you need to export to sRGB if you want to use it on normal monitors and I guess also for many consumer printers. That goes without saying, even if Photoshop have hidden some of that functionality a bit away compared to before.

    The other discussion was the fact that if you bring in a raw file, don’t you want to edit it with as much color information as possible? Especially if you have a screen that can do 100% sRGB and a lot of Adobe’s gamut? I don’t see why anyone would edit the picture in an sRGB colorspace until you do the final export.

    Finally, there was a discussion for the color profile in camera, and I think we clarified that it only applies to JPG images.

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    • Carolyn Dingus

      I have to strongly agree. Even my new Canon Pro-100 printer covers pretty much all of the AdobeRGB color gamut. I think you need to stay 16-bit, AdobeRGB until you want to produce output for a specific purpose.

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    • Jon Pastor

      Carolyn, the Pro-100 has 8 inks, if I remember correctly, so if it covers Adobe RGB then so will the 10-ink Pro-10 and the 12-ink Pro-100 — and most recent printers with the latest ink sets.

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  16. cherestes janos

    Great tip thank you!

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  17. Dan Harvell

    I have used sRGB for as long as I remember (at the insistence of the print lab I use). This past summer, I was working on a set that I had shot over one weekend. When I was finished editing them, I viewed the images in a photo viewer app on Windows 10. As if by magic, right before my eyes, my images took on a sickly green hue. I hopped back into Lightroom to double check my work. Could it be that I edited a whole weekend’s worth of image with a tendency to go green? No… they all looked fine in Lightroom. So, I exported the images, again and viewed them in my photo viewer app. They were green-tinted. Pulling my hair out, I jumped into Lightroom and looked at all of my settings. Why were my images turning green, outside of Lightroom? Then, I found it. One of the updates I applied to Lightroom set my color space to Adobe RGB, rather than leaving my setting at sRGB where I had left it. Frustrated, I reset my color space to use sRGB, in Lightroom. When I re-edited the images, I checked them out in my photo viewer app. Problem fixed. It was an interesting lesson in what can happen when your editing software uses a color management method other than what the final output device uses. In my experience, I have found that sRGB seems to be the most commonly used color space. I would only use something other than sRGB if explicitly told to do so by the owner of the destination output device. Anything else could leave you seeing red (or green…).

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    • Carolyn Dingus

      This is a complicated thing. If you have a Mac, then you probably use Safari, which is THE ONLY browser to recognize color space. So stuff often looks better on a Mac. The other issues are monitor quality and calibration. If you calibrate your monitor, at least you know you have a fighting chance of adjusting your image in LR or whatever, and having it look good on someone else’s monitor or printer. When you adjust tone your photo on an uncalibrated monitor, you may be creating off-color adjustments that look bad when printed, or shown on a good, calibrated monitor. But having said that, you can do a beautiful job of adjusting your image on a high quality, calibrated monitor and then have your cousin (or client!) tell you they are too dark, or greenish, just because THEY have a poor quality or uncalibrated monitor!

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    • Carolyn Dingus

      The thing is, you can always go TO sRGB, but once you’re there, you’re stuck there in 8-bit color land. You can’t get back to 16-bit “better than sRGB color”, without completely redoing your adjustments. Although I guess I am assuming you’re shooting raw. If you’re in JPG, then nothing much matters anyway. ?

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    • Barry Chapman

      Carolyn, Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer are now colorspace aware. The issue with posting things online is that most phones and tablets aren’t and that’s where many people view photos.

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  18. Jon Pastor

    Lee Christiansen said “Lightroom has a rather annoying quirk of displaying images in ProPhoto
    colourspace by default. Not overly useful as this colourspace is far beyond anything
    to monitor or print it with.”

    If you think about it, as long as your monitors’ and printers’ gamuts exceed Adobe RGB’s, by limiting yourself to Adobe RGB you’re throwing away a non-trivial amount of colorspace that you _could_ see — presuming that you have a monitor and printers that _do_ have gamuts that exceed Adobe RGB’s.

    From the tests I’ve seen, high-end printers, at least, all blow Adobe RGB away. I know that there are monitors that do the same, because I have one: a Samung XL24 that I got refurb at a bargain price.

    If I have to compromise, I’d rather edit in 16-bit ProPhoto and make the translation to output color space it _after_ I’ve done my adjustments, not before.

    If you want to throttle back the colorspace, go for it, but Adobe has (sensibly IMO) opted to default to the edit-in-largest-colorspace model, because if you have high-quality equipment its gamut is going to be larger than Adobe RGB.

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  19. Jeff Durand

    Good video Trevor,

    Every vendor I use always asks for sRGB files, so that is my preferred workflow. If I do ever need a file to be “special” I export it as a 16-bit .tiff which is nice when needed for extra oomph. I appreciate your videos~!

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  20. Michael None

    Trevor, If your camera is set to sRGB then I assume you are shooting jpeg? This setting is irrelevant for shooting RAW.

    Also, there is a good reason to maintain a workflow with a color space such as ProPhotoRGB, and that is to have a better final result. If you do minimal editing, then this is likely not a big deal, but with any post processing you will have better results if you start and maintain a higher quality file (raw, 16 bit, uncompressed or lossless compression, ProPhoto color space, tif/psd intermediates). Only in the final step do you convert to 8-bit, lossy, sRGB jpeg for web or print.

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  21. lee christiansen

    Hi Stefan,

    It’s not my experience that LR displays to my monitor’s colour space. Indeed my monitor simply delivers an accurate representation of what it gets and is capable of delivering up to sRGB. It is a calibrated Eizo CG211 and images finished in PS print perfectly (on my profiled printers) or from other printing compaies – so it’s certainly calibrated.

    My experience is hat there is a discrepancy between LR and PS unless soft proofing in LR is engaged. When softproofing is set to sRGB and I output as sRGB the problem goes away. This would suggest it is an issue with how LR displays by default.

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    • Stefan Ohlsson

      What you are writing is actually the same that I stated. The program uses your monitor profile to convert from the internal colour space to your monitor space. This is how it supposed to work. When you say that you have to turn on softproofing to get the same look between Photoshop and Lightroom, you are correct. But Lightroom have no idea of the colour space that you are using in Photoshop, unless you turn on softproofing.

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    • Carolyn Dingus

      Oh, boy do I need help here. I have two monitors, MacBook Retina and LG ips 2k4k. I calibrate the monitors with Spyder4. So far so good. But I just bought a Canon PIXMA Pro-100 printer. The software includes Pro-100 color management profiles for various papers, that you can select in Lightroom Or Photoshop. BUT, when I choose the correct color space using the Canon profiles, I get junk for output. And where does the Spyder profile come into play? My images are all shot raw, and stored in 16-bit AdobeRGB, I think. I am so lost … Is anyone willing to help me! ?

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    • Joseph Ford

      Carolyn, you first mistake that the calibration for your monitor has an affect on your final output. Calibration of your monitor only ensure the colors you are adjusting via that source is accurate.
      I first like to think of color management is in three parts. The camera under the lighting conditions the images were taken. The second part the monitor calibration to ensure your colors are what you seeing is what you get. The final part is triangle is the printer. Use your printer provided by the printer company and paper company. You need to turn off the internal processing of the colors done by the printer and use the profiles. Also the profiles are paper specific, that is when you change type of paper you should also change the profile to match it.

      Hope this helps.

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    • Barry Chapman

      Carolyn, you’re not supposed to choose the colorspace using the Canon profiles, you’re supposed to use the profiles while doing a soft proof of the image. Then when it appears as you want it to turn off color management in the printer driver and have photoshop manage the colors using the paper profile you used for the soft proof.

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    • Carolyn Dingus

      @Barry, thanks so much. I’ll definitely try this. And I promise to do some reading up on the topic so I don’t waste more time, ink, and paper!

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  22. John MacLean

    Trevor,

    Before you propagate misinformation and lack of knowledge about color management, I highly suggest you get this book and understand this more in depth. Sure you can dumb down everything to sRGB, and that’s a losing approach too, but you lost all credibility when you suggested “shooting” in sRGB which can only mean that you’re shooting JPG files. Otherwise why would you have even suggested that?

    http://www.amazon.com/Color-Management-Photographers-Techniques-Photoshop/dp/0240806492/

    Cheers,
    John

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    • Kristian Hollund

      He is probably referring to what color space you select in-camera. It’s got nothing to do with RAW or JPG as it is a separate setting.

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    • John MacLean

      Kristian, You’re partially correct. It has nothing to do with shooting RAW. It has only to do with shooting JPG, as your camera bakes in all the settings to the files when shooting JPG.

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  23. Matthew Saville

    To clarify, since the question has been asked by others: your in-camera color space doesn’t matter when shooting RAW. A RAW image has no color profile actually applied; only the in-camera preview has any sort of processing applied.

    The only reason to switch your cameras to sRGB, really, is ironically a non-sequitur that has to do with both (I think) Canon and Nikon’s file naming structure for sRGB and Adobe RGB. The underscore goes in a different place, and it’s annoying as heck when you shoot Adobe RGB. So, just shoot sRGB in-camera, and worry about the color profile later in post-production.

    If anything, I find it downright annoying that Lightroom will ONLY display RGB warnings in ProPhotoRGB, not sRGB, but at least they now have proof previews. Adobe Bridge was much more versatile in this respect, allowing you to actually process your images while viewing sRGB colors / warnings, or changing it to Adobe/ProPhoto. Too bad Bridge is still the runt of the ACR litter.

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    • Carolyn Dingus

      Really? That’s it? The naming thing drives me NUTS! Now that you point it out, it’s obvious that RAW wouldn’t have a color space assignment. Duh. But everybody told me …

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    • Matthew Saville

      Hi Carolyn,

      Yup, I think it’s one of the dumbest things that camera makers haven’t “fixed” yet; I don’t know why they decided that this was a good idea. File names and numbers should be separated by an underscore, ALWAYS. The new Canon 5D 3 is the worst, since by default it uses some crazy and pointless “code” prefix to the file number, as quite possibly the worst solution ever to the issue of folks who shoot with multiple cameras and worry about their file names overlapping upon import.

      But, don’t get me started on that. Just set your camera to sRGB, shoot RAW, and don’t worry about color space until you get into post-production. Oh, and utilize the in-camera ability to customize your file prefix, so for example if I have two cameras, they’ll come out of the cameras as MS1_9999.NEF and MS2_9999.NEF. That way, I’ll always know which camera I was using, and I’ll never have to worry about using two cameras at the same event and having the file numbers overlap. :-)

      Good luck!

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  24. Barry Chapman

    So you only shoot in jpeg? I wouldn’t shoot jpeg in other than sRGB, because converting a jpeg that’s already a compressed 8 bit format isn’t likely to lead to ultimate color fidelity anyway.

    But I shoot RAW and would prefer to work in 16 bit in a larger color space to take advantage of the best possible color fidelity and tonal transitions before changing to 8 bit and saving or exporting in sRGB. It’s not difficult to create an action to do that for you in PS, or to set up your LR export to do to. And if a print lab accepts a tiff with an embedded Adobe RGB profile that’s what I’m going to give them to get the best possible results.

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  25. Michael None

    Shoot raw, edit in ProPhoto (default in LR), export in sRGB. This will give the best quality results and is more likely to preserve tones and transitions.

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  26. lee christiansen

    Lightroom has a rather annoying quirk of displaying images in ProPhoto colourspace by default. Not overly useful as this colourspace is far beyond anything to monitor or print it with.

    I remember highlighting the issue to Adobe and the rep I showed the issue to was surprised at the inconsistancy between LR images viewed and the resultant sRGB exports. In the next incarnation of LR we had softproofing made available and this helps with the problem.

    It’s important to engage the softproof option and choose your intended colourspace. I work in sRGB and so I choose that with a perceptual conversion.

    I’m often amazed how many people don’t do this and who spend hours in LR fine tuning images, only to have them changed at export. (Even more amazed that not everyone notices…!)

    Soft proofing needs to be switched on every time you start LR, (bad bad Adobe – why isn’t this a user preference?) but it is a life saver.

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    • Stefan Ohlsson

      No, Lightroom doesn’t display images in ProPhoto RGB. It handles the images internally in Prophet RGB, bu what you see on the monitor is ALWAYS converted to your monitor’s colour space. So if you have a monitor that only can show a space that’s equal to sRGB, what you will see is an image that is in sRGB colour space.

      If you shoot in JPEG and convert to sRGB in the camera, your colours will often clip if you shot a scene with saturated colours. The camera’s colour space is much larger than sRGB, it’s even larger than Adobe RGB. ProPhoto RGB is constructed as a colour space that’s big enough so that it can contain all the colour that the camera captures.

      If you see a major change in the image’s colour when you turn on soft proofing, your monitor is probably not calibrated/profiled correctly.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Whatever color space Lightroom uses, it does NOT use the highlight warnings for that color space, it uses the highlight warnings for ProPhoto or whatever “Prophet” RGB is.

      This is the main problem, for me at least. It’s not that the actual colors are changing, it’s just that the clipping warning is borderline useless, and you simply have to train your eyes to know when posterization will actually occur in print.

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    • Stefan Ohlsson

      Sorry for that my stupid auto correct changed Prophoto RGB to Prophet, but I guess that you still understood what I was trying to say. If you are shooting JPEG, what you say is just not correct. If you are shooting Raw files, you have to turn on softproofing to be able to see colour clipping in Prohoto RGB, Adobe RGB or sRGB. it doesn’t matter. Just press s and select the colour space that you are going to export to.

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  27. Tyler Friesen

    This was great, I wish this video was around about 6 years ago. It’s definitely helpful if you have your own printer to use adobe or prophoto color spaces but like you said it can look seriously messed up on other monitors and most printers request files in srgb these days.

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  28. Joseph Ford

    The one question i have, I was thought in school that if you are shooting in RAW your color space setting only affects the Naming of the file (Nikon). It does how ever when you import it to Lightroom working in raw it natively remains in PROphoto RGB until you export to JPG or sending it to Photoshop. I may be wrong but in the current version of Lightroom, the color space is for final conversions and external editing.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Yeah, and I freaking HATE the way files are named when you use Adobe RGB in-camera. The underscore belongs BETWEEN the naming structure and numeral, eesh!

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  29. Joseph Wu

    Well said! For those without color managed applications, with an adobeRGB display, their colors will be extremely skewed, unless proper color management is enforced throughout their workflow!

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