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Colour Space For Beginners  
User currently offlinePsych From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 3077 posts, RR: 53
Posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3534 times:
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Hi all.

I have a question about colour space, which I freely admit to knowing next to nothing about.

First - when I bought a book on PS it strongly suggested that I set up colour space using 'Adobe 1998', and that was confirmed in another book I looked at. No problems so far.

When I recently bought a 20D this gave me the option of choosing colour space on the camera settings, and the manual recommended sRGB. Whilst out chatting to a fellow A.netter yesterday I noted that he has his camera set on Adobe RGB. It struck me that there was a potential conflict here with my settings, although I have never had a problem with colour profiles whilst editing, or anything like that.

I have just done a couple of test shots of the same scenes, using the two different settings. I was quite struck by the differences. To a layperson like myself the key difference was that the sRGB images -displayed in my PS set to Adobe 1998 - were brighter and more 'alive', whereas the shots taken with Adobe RGB set in camera were noticeably subdued. The detailed histograms confirmed this difference, with notably different graphs for the 3 colour channels. I then altered the PS colour space setting to sRGB, but I have to say I could not spot any difference in the results described above - camera set sRGB still looked a lot more colourful, Adobe RGB much more subdued and flat. This left me thinking that I would stick with sRGB in the camera, and leave my PS settings unchanged, using Adobe 1998 as recommended.

I would be very interested to hear more from others more informed in all this about the differences, and also what settings colleagues use for their camera (if able to make a choice).

Thanks for your input.


9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineMrk25 From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 225 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3526 times:

Hi Paul,
I tried changing the settings when I got my 350D. I set the camera to Adobe RGB and set Photoshop the same. I found that colours did not look "true" when viewing the images in a web browser. I to do not fully understand what the exact difference is but i didn't like the look of the images. I changed all settings back to sRGB and have been more than happy with the result. This probably hasn't answered your questions, but thought I would share my experience on the subject.


User currently offlineSean377 From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1225 posts, RR: 36
Reply 2, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3522 times:

My (limited) understanding is that sRGB is tailered towards veiwing images on a monitor, whereas Adobe RGB is better for images that will be printed.


Flying is the second greatest thrill known to man... Landing is the first!
User currently offlineEDDL From Germany, joined Dec 2002, 738 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3516 times:

Paul, have a look here:

Phil / EDDL

User currently offlineJhribar From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3503 times:

Hi Paul,

first of all congrats for the nice equipment you bought.

Adobe RGB is the larger color space of both and enables you to better contol tonal corrections for example. sRGB is a smaller color space and commonly used on devices that are not color managed.

When you shoot your pics in Adobe RGB and view them in PS or any other color managed program the result should be just fine. Once you view your Adobe RGB pics in programs which are not color managed the problems start: Flat looking, "grey" images will appear.

The reason for this is that most of the not color managed programs expect sRGB as used color space. Most of consumer digi cams only shoot in sRGB.
Also equipment like kodak picture print machines are setup for sRGB. Perhaps more important for uploading to ANet: most internet browser do NOT support color management and only expect sRGB, hence pictures in Adobe RGB will look flat !!

Lets return to your case:
If you shoot JPG normally sRGB would be the best color space for you to use.
Also setup your Adobe then to sRGB color space to avoid profile mismatches.
You can tick the option about color space mismatch warnings in the color setup dialog of PS to be informed about possible profile mismatches.

The things get interesting when shooting RAW. Then it doesn't matter what settings you apply on the camera since you can change all settings in the RAW convertor afterwards. Normally the Adobe RGB color space is used in the PS RAW convertor. For exporting to JPG you have to set sRGB and 8bit after the doctering your pics.

Just give it a try. Once you know what color spaces are about you can make the choice for yourself of how to setup your camera.

I currently use following workflow:

- shoot RAW
- apply 90% of the correction in the RAW convertor
- export to *.psd in 8bit Adobe RGB
- apply the remaining corrections in adjustment layers
- save the document in psd format with all layers included (approx. 25mb file size
- convert and save the file to 8bit, sRGB jpg when needed afterwards

I hope this helps

good luck,



User currently offlineJavibi From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 3503 times:

Thanks for the link EDDL, that is a perfect explanation that has saved me a lot of writing  Wink and made me learn a couple of new things.


User currently offlinePsych From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 3077 posts, RR: 53
Reply 6, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 3452 times:
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Thanks very much, gentlemen, that's very informative.

All the best.


User currently offlineDC10Tim From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 1406 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 3432 times:

Hi Paul,

It's a real minefield. sRGB is primarily aimed at TV screen images I think, whilst Adobe RGB gives you a much wider range of shades.

The man to ask, who seems to be a bit of an authority on the subject is Sigurdur Benediktsson (Siggiben).



Obviously missing something....
User currently offlineStealthZ From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 5896 posts, RR: 38
Reply 8, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 3414 times:
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Quoting EDDL (Reply 3):
Paul, have a look here:

Damn there is some good info on that site, I would suggest that anyone with more than a passing interest in this craft visit there and look at some of the archived Photo-Tips!!

Or here for some .. somewhat more technical writings




If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
User currently offlineViv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 23
Reply 9, posted (10 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 3394 times:

Quoting Jhribar (Reply 4):
If you shoot JPG normally sRGB would be the best color space for you to use.

This is correct. It's what I do.

I don't bother with RAW - the incremental improvement is just not worth the extra hassle - and card space taken up.

Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
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