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Prints and Adobe RGB vs. sRGB

Marissa C. Boucher' , Mar 02, 2005; 06:34 p.m.

Okay, so I've searched tons of prior posts regarding color space, color management, calibration, print labs, etc and have not found a solid direction to go based on the input I've read. So, here's some questions that I'd love to get some feedback on if you all would be so kind :) Forgive me, this is a lot of random thoughts and questions so it may not all be put together in the most digestable way. I didn't proof read it...

-I work on a PC, even though I'd prefer a MAC at this point (of which I'd like to transition to as soon as it's in the budget). Should I not be working in the Adobe RGB color space because I'm on a PC? Or should I say, is it smarter to run at 2.2 6500k sRGB until I transition over to MACs? I've had strange results with different labs. Either the photo looks like it was printed in sRGB from an embedded Adobe RGB color space or it's always 25% darker in the actual print than on my monitor. It lacks contrast and punch, etc. My monitors have been correctly calibrated and there is very little to no ambient light in the room. One lab uses MACs and supposedly images in Adobe RGB. This lab is the one where I get 25% darker photos. The other lab uses PCs and supposedly converts any embedded color space correctly. This is the lab where our prints come back with sunburned skin and over saturated colors.

-The lab I do proofs, online proofing, and who handles all my family/friend orders post wedding (printroom.com) prints on the Fuji Frontier. The problem lies in this. They claim that no matter what color space you submit your photos in (adobe RGB, sRGB) they will properly convert the image so no prior conversion is needed on the photographers end. I was skeptical from the start when I read this, but simply didn't know enough about color management to turn away from their services. Me and my wife prefer to work in Adobe RGB from the camera>photoshop>to print.

And of course the prints came back as if they were printed in an sRGB type color space. I know this because I use a color calibrated 22in CRT for imaging and an LCD laptop as an extended desktop for my PS palettes to display on. So if I drag an image from the Adobe RGB CRT over to the sRGB LCD, I can clearly see how skin tones instantly turn red (like a sunburn) and all other colors are over saturated as well. I even used printroom's softproofing icc profile to check it before print and it was a very subtle change, so I thought it would be okay. WRONG. I held the physical print up to my CRT and it was way off. Then I held it up to my LCD and it was dead on. Clearly the printroom.com lab can't convert Adobe RGB files correctly on their Frontier or am I missing something?

So why don't I just use sRGB so my results match with printroom.com? Because sRGB seems to be more suited for web based graphics and a more simple color space. What I don't understand though is why most printers, even professional lab printers are most suitable with this color space. Which is why I would then ask, what's the point of doing anything in Adobe RGB if most printers can't even replicate the wider array of colors?

But then I've also read that Adobe RGB is for the high end professional and it is the superior color space for photography. For example, Yervant Zanazanian (yervant.com) has amazing prints that I've seen in person and at his seminars. He uses The Edge in Australia and they run in Adobe RGB and print on Epsons. The prints are amazing. It simply leads me to think that sRGB is for the consumer end, yet so many online labs in the US work in sRGB.

Is there a US online lab that does online proofing, physical proofs, online orders from my customers and runs strictly in Adobe RGB??

Responses


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Andrew Rodney , Mar 02, 2005; 06:51 p.m.

Response to Searched posts but still no resolve on my questions, does anyone really know?

-->Should I not be working in the Adobe RGB color space because I'm on a PC?

The choice of a working space has nothing to do with the operating system!

-->Or should I say, is it smarter to run at 2.2 6500k sRGB until I transition over to MACs?

The TRC gamma and the white point of the display has NOTHING to do with the TRC gamma and white point of your working space. You can use whatever working space you wish! That being said, Mac users should calibrate the TRC gamma of their displays like their PC brothers (2.2). But again, this has nothing to do with the RGB working space you edit your files in. With a good ICC profile that describes your display, you can work on either platform and produce the same color appearance from the same working space.

-->d strange results with different labs. Either the photo looks like it was printed in sRGB from an embedded Adobe RGB color space or it's always 25% darker in the actual print than on my monitor.

The issue was the lab isn't color managed and when they got a file that wasn't in sRGB, their heads exploded. With someone that is working properly with color management, you can hand them data in either sRGB or Adobe RGB and they will properly convert that data to their printer color space (NO output device other then a display can output sRGB).

-->They claim that no matter what color space you submit your photos in (adobe RGB, sRGB) they will properly convert the image so no prior conversion is needed on the photographers end. I was skeptical from the start when I read this, but simply didn't know enough about color management to turn away from their services. Me and my wife prefer to work in Adobe RGB from the camera>photoshop>to print.

You need to have a conversation with them and see if indeed they do use proper color management or simply tell you this. Most Frontier labs want sRGB because they are too lazy to setup the machine to work properly with true output profiles so they want data in sRGB so the system can simply assume that all files are in that color space for the eventual conversion to the print color space. That CAN work but it's not ideal and if they are doing this, giving them a file in Adobe RGB will produce quite unacceptable color output.

-->if I drag an image from the Adobe RGB CRT over to the sRGB LCD...

I seriously doubt you have an Adobe RGB (1998) CRT so you need to clarify what you're referring to. There are about 500 such displays in the entire world (I have one) and they cost more than most cars.

You might want to read the following article (it's general enough that much of it covers some stuff you're talking about, just ignore the stuff about the E1):

(link) vnu_content_id=1000734256

Albert Lui , Mar 02, 2005; 07:00 p.m.

Response to Searched posts but still no resolve on my questions, does anyone really know?

I thought that this was the reason why Frontiers want sRGB files: The jpegs from consumer digicams are in sRGB colorspace.

Paul Sokal - Dallas, TX , Mar 02, 2005; 07:28 p.m.

Response to Searched posts but still no resolve on my questions, does anyone really know?

You said your monitor was calibrated. How? And how long ago?

Gary Woodard , Mar 02, 2005; 08:03 p.m.

Response to Searched posts but still no resolve on my questions, does anyone really know?

Interesting letter to editor in last month Photo District News, the writer ranting about how most experts suggest working in the AdobeRGB Colorspace, and goes on to say AdobeRGB is in fact, an extrememly wide color space that cannot be matched by any print nor other output deive, including both offset presses and inkjet printers. He continues saying the big divide at present is that so many digital experts have been touting Adobe RGB as the space to work within, though almost every part of an image file will be rendered "out of Gamut by doing so. Just check the Gamut Warning under View in Photoshop for any such AdobeRGB file if you are in doubt, etc.etc.,,He goes on saying the leading digital lab in Atlanta who say point blank that nearly every printer and diital house in the buisness works in sRGB, despite what we're being told by the so called experts, personally I shoot in sRGB and do corrections in sRGB and submit as request by my lab, the largest on the central coast, in sRGB. I guess my question is if the big dogs and color experts cant get on the same page, what chance does the average digital photographer have of steering the proper course.

Andrew Rodney , Mar 02, 2005; 08:27 p.m.

Response to Searched posts but still no resolve on my questions, does anyone really know?

> Interesting letter to editor in last month Photo District News, the writer > ranting about how most experts suggest working in the AdobeRGB Colorspace, and > goes on to say AdobeRGB is in fact, an extrememly wide color space that cannot > be matched by any print nor other output deive, including both offset presses > and inkjet printers.

Kind of nonsense. NO output device can produce sRGB but a display that's producing sRGB. It's based on the behavior of a display with very specific aim points (gamma, white point, chromaticity values even the ambient conditions this display is setting in). Adobe RGB (1998) also have (or will have) a defined reference medium (Adobe is working on this). A reference medium is simply the specification under which this color space is supposed to be viewed, NO printer can produce either sRGB or Adobe RGB (1998)! However, when you bring images into these color spaces (a processes known as encoding), you get to decide the gamut volume you can use for eventual output. Many, many output devices have some gamut areas that exceed sRGB (and in some cases even Adobe RGB (1998). Even if 10% of some areas fall outside sRGB, is that important to you? Having that 10% clip to sRGB when you could have used it on your output device may or may not be critical to the quality of the output. But if you clip the colors, they are gone, you never had the opportunity to use those colors.

> He continues saying the big divide at present is that so > many digital experts have been touting Adobe RGB as the space to work within, > though almost every part of an image file will be rendered "out of Gamut by > doing so. Just check the Gamut Warning under View in Photoshop for any such > AdobeRGB file if you are in doubt, etc.etc.,,

The gamut warning in Photoshop is pretty useless. If you're talking about seeing a gray (by default) overlay of the colors that can't be printed, that's there for old timers who used say the sponge tool to manually desaturate those portions of the image to fall within gamut. That was fine in the 20th century, but today we use good output profiles and robust gamut mapping to do this. That's why it's so important to have good output profiles for the process and to pick the rendering intent that YOU prefer. That does a far better job of gamut mapping (either clipping or compression depending on what you pick).

> He goes on saying the leading > digital lab in Atlanta who say point blank that nearly every printer and > diital house in the buisness works in sRGB,

That's total BS. There isn't a printer on this planet that produces sRGB. What these printers do is ASSUME that the color space is sRGB so they can convert the data to the actual output color space. If they profiled the device and provided you the output profile, you could do this yourself, see a far more accurate soft proof and decide how to map out of gamut colors using the rendering intent YOU prefer. I repeat, there are NO output devices that produce sRGB (or for that matter Adobe RGB (1998) or any other working space that's based on the reference media of a display).

> despite what we're being told by > the so called experts, personally I shoot in sRGB and do corrections in sRGB > and submit as request by my lab, the largest on the central coast, in sRGB.

That's fine and if you are happy with the output, end of story. However, your capture device and most output devices CAN produce more colors then you are funneling the initial data into (sRGB).

> guess my question is if the big dogs and color experts cant get on the same > page, what chance does the average digital photographer have of steering the > proper course.

This guy doesn't sound remotely like an expert to me. Who was it?

Jonathan Ratzlaff , Mar 02, 2005; 10:37 p.m.

I always thought an RGB monitor had a larger colour space than either Adobe 1998 or sRGB and the reason for using a reduced colour space is based on the fact that a reflective medium like a print is not able to diplay the wide range of colurs that a monitor can. The other reason for using sRGB is that with a reduced range of colour, a onitor does not need to be terribly well calibrated for the colours in the image to fit into its gamut. someone else mentioned that out of gamut warnings in PS did not help that much, however they are speaking of RGB images. Remember that PS was designed for print and CMYK images where the colour gamut is much reduced over sRGB. Many inkjet printers can take advantage of a wider colour space than can photographic printers and as such you have to pick the working colour space to match the output you are planning for. for example I am shooting a wedding tomorrow that will be printed in a lab. All images will be kept in sRGB colour space, However if on the weekend I go and shoot images that are designed to be printed on my Epson 2200, they will be edited in Adobe RGB

mark blackman , Mar 03, 2005; 08:21 a.m.

Marrisa, Before you change to a decent lab that can demonstrate at least a grasp of colour management, ask your current one for an icc profile of their printer, ink and paper. you can then use this to proof your image in photoshop prior to submitting them the job. The sRGB or Adobe RGB spaces are commonly used because their wide gamut means that they can hold images from many different sources and allow you to make quite large changes in an image whilst being confident that the colours held are a true representation.

Andrew Rodney , Mar 03, 2005; 09:26 a.m.

-->I always thought an RGB monitor had a larger colour space than either Adobe 1998 or sRGB.

Nope. Most current technology displays (CRTs) behave (or can be set to behave) as sRGB devices. That's what sRGB is and was designed for.

If you view an image in sRGB outside an ICC aware display and it looks good, the display is behaving closely to the sRGB specifications. Or to put it another way, if an image looks good in the sRGB color space, that image truly is in sRGB being viewed on an sRGB device (the display). The reference medium that defines sRGB is a display in a quite exacting environmental condition (ambient light). This is another reason that when someone tells you their printer produces sRGB, they are full of hot air. It's simply not possible. The data has to be converted and rendered to the output (print) based on it's reference medium.

Scott Eaton , Mar 03, 2005; 10:45 a.m.

Most Frontier labs want sRGB because they are too lazy to setup the machine to work properly with true output profiles

Then why don't you set up your own Frontier shop Andrew vs accusing business owners who are risking their own capital of being 'lazy'? This is akin to complaining that amatuer mini-labs don't use professional paper, but you don't use professional labs because they are too expensive.

I'm not thrilled with having to downgrade into sRGB from AdobeRGB either because it does result in a reduced printed gamut range on Fuji CA, which to my frustration always seems to happen with my macro work. Reds and magenta's especially get castrated.

However, if I'm being that particularly anal about an image, I'll flip it over to a LightJet lab that's profiled out, which most are, and use them vs hassle a shop that's handling a 95% clientale that has no clue what AdobeRGB is.

Is there a US online lab that does online proofing, physical proofs, online orders from my customers and runs strictly in Adobe RGB??

Isn't Mpix.com a profiled shop?


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