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Perceptual vs. Relative Intent in Lightroom & Photoshop?

Chris Kresser , Dec 18, 2007; 10:16 a.m.

This is one color management issue I still don't fully understand. When printing to an Epson R2400 in a color-managed workflow (from Lightroom and Photoshop CS3), should I be selecting Perceptual or Relative? And should I select black point compensation (it is automatically selected in Lightroom, it seems).


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Patrick Lavoie , Dec 18, 2007; 10:45 a.m.

1_i didtn see much difference myself, but i read that relative gave better result.

2_yes in both case. or i should say always if you can.

Peter Mounier , Dec 18, 2007; 11:25 a.m.

When you have an out of gamut color in your image, the relative colorimetric rendering adjusts just that one out of gamut color so that it is in gamut by picking the closest color to it that is in gamut. The perceptual rendering adjusts all the colors in your image so that the relationship between all the colors remains the same. To me that means that if I use perceptual rendering the colors might all change unpredictably. If I use relative rendering, the only color that might change unpredictably will be the out of gamut color.


Michael Wang , Dec 18, 2007; 12:47 p.m.

Most people defaults to Relative. Another approach is before you print the image, you can use the soft proofing feature to see how the print out will look, you can switch between relative and perceptual to gauge which one you like better.

Godfrey DiGiorgi , Dec 18, 2007; 01:00 p.m.

Differences between how relative colormetric and perceptual will render an image depends a lot on the specific image dynamics. Most images will look virtually identical, but if the color values are approaching boundaries of the output paper-ink profile, you might see differences.

There's a decent write up of Rendering Intents at Steve's Digicams:

My default is to use relative colormetric with black point compensation enabled. It produces very nice results on the R2400 from Lightroom.


Bruce Watson , Dec 18, 2007; 02:09 p.m.

Quick search on the 'net found this:


Tells you everything you need to know.

Ken Papai , Dec 19, 2007; 05:47 p.m.

I print a ton to the R2400 from Photoshop and almost ALWAYS choose Black Pt. Compensation and Perceptual. There you are. It works, tried and true.

Herman Teeuwen , Dec 19, 2007; 05:49 p.m.

> 2_yes in both case. or i should say always if you can.

The majority of the paper profiles incorporate a perceptual rendering intent that tries to make use of the whole dark range of the media, by definition. Therefore, since it already maps the dark colors of the media, enabling BPC does not affect this rendering intent much... almost always.

Quote from "Adobe Systems' Implementation of BPC"


"Color conversion using Perceptual intent already maps source white to destination white and source black to destination black. Because this mapping preserves the relationships of the shades, it is unlikely that a whole shadow section will be mapped to the same black value. Therefore, BPC should not be necessary. BPC is available, however, for this rendering intent, to be used with malformed profiles. For a given picture, the user can decide whether using BPC improves the color conversion and can select it or deselect it accordingly."

Erik de G. , Dec 19, 2007; 06:21 p.m.

Always use perceptual renedering with blackpoint compensation for printing. Printer profiles are made for perceptual rendering by default. In order to avoid unexpected color shifts you should use softproofing and make sure that the out of gamut colors are brought within gamut (best method is selective desaturation until they are safe).

Relative rendering should be used for converting from one color space to another, not for printing.

Herman Teeuwen , Dec 20, 2007; 02:35 a.m.

> Printer profiles are made for perceptual rendering by default.

Please explain?

> ... make sure that the out of gamut colors are brought within gamut

The essence of perceptual gamut mapping is (fixed) gamut compression of ALL colors (out-of-gamut + in-gamut). So why bother bringing out-of-gamut colors within gamut when using perceptual?

> Relative rendering should be used for converting from one color space to another

Relative colorimetric is the ONLY intent that will be applied when doing working space (matrix) conversions. It's not the only option you have in PS, perceptual is not grayed out, but PS WILL do a relative conversion.

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