sRGB vs Adobe RGB
sRGB or Adobe RGB, how do you decide?
There is some discussion as to which colour profile to use when it comes to printing, so here’s three simple tips to help.
1. Contact them. Ask your professional lab which colour profile they use before you start.
2. Calibrate everything. Don’t just calibrate your images to that profile, also calibrate your screen to that profile.
3. Do a test. Ask for test prints or test products with your lab to check your calibrations. Checking on your printer at home won’t work.
These three simple steps will ensure that all of your images are printed the way you see them on your monitor.
The way the Vanilla Lab works is to convert all images into sRGB. If your images are already in sRGB colour space when they are sent to us, then there will be no difference. But images set to Adobe RGB will be dark, dull and washed out when converted into sRGB during our printing process.
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To get our heads round this topic let’s start with the basics…
What is a colour profile?
- A colour profile is a numerical model of a colour space. Operating systems and programs need to have access to a profile that describes the meaning of the colour values in order to interpret the colour correctly. Proper colour management requires all image files to have an embedded profile.
What is a colour space?
- sRGB – This colour space is a small colour space – At the moment, sRGB is the only appropriate choice for images uploaded to the web since most web browsers don’t support any colour management. Additionally, sRGB is a very good choice for images sent to minilabs, especially if there is no custom profile available. Because sRGB is not a wide colour space, it’s not appropriate as a working space.
- Adobe RGB – This is probably the most often-requested colour space for delivery, if a colour space is specified. It offers a good gamut and very wide support. Note that Adobe RGB images that are uploaded to websites without conversion to sRGB will generally appear dark and muted.
- SRGB is the world’s default colour space. Most consumer applications, devices, printers, and web browsers default to sRGB and read colour information accordingly when dealing with images, and when it comes to it, sRGB is king. For the most part, eCommerce businesses are usually not looking to produce billboard-sized prints of their product images; most only need to make poster-sized prints or wall murals at the largest. Processing images in the sRGB colour profile will ensure accurate colours across multiple devices when printing images or uploading them to the web.
You can choose to shoot in sRGB by adjusting your camera’s colour space settings to sRGB or you can choose to shoot images in Adobe RGB and convert the images to sRGB in post-processing.
So how can you convert Adobe RGB to sRGB?
- Simply navigate through your menus to Edit>>Convert To Profile and change your destination space to sRGB after editing your image. To insure that you do every time, I recommend you incorporate it into an action used for saving your images. Remember, failure to convert your images prior to saving them for web will result in dull and unflattering colour tones. (Sutton, 2013)
This is also the case when printing with Vanilla. As you can see below when an image is uploaded as Adobe RGB then converted by us to sRGB the images are dark and skin tones get lost. Even though sRGB is a smaller colour space, for photobook printing sRGB is optimal as you can see below the image is full of colour and is accurate to when the original image is viewed on a monitor.
(please note that the colour may vary if your screen is calibrated to Adobe RGB.)Most labs such as Vanilla ‘shine light on photographic paper, similar to the way film prints are made. They have a similar colour range to the sRGB colour space. Most of them expect your file to be in sRGB, and, if it isn’t, your prints will look washed out.
- Dpbestflow.org, (2016). Color Space and Color Profiles | dpBestflow. [online] Available at: http://www.dpbestflow.org/color/color-space-and-color-profiles#profile [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016].
- Pixelz, (2014). What is sRGB and why is so Important for eCommerce. [online] Available at: http://www.pixelz.com/blog/zen-srgb-color-space/ [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016].
- Sutton, Z. (2013). AdobeRGB vs. sRGB | Fstoppers. [online] Fstoppers. Available at: https://fstoppers.com/pictures/adobergb-vs-srgb-3167 [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016].
- SmugMug, (2016). What colorspace should my files be in?. [online] Available at: http://help.smugmug.com/customer/en/portal/articles/93362-what-colorspace-should-my-files-be-in- [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016].