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VIDEO: sRGB and Adobe RGB Color Gamuts Explained

Have you wondered what the difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB profiles? There both RGB aren’t they?

Yes, they are both RGB, but they areย completely different in color appearance. It’s interesting to note that the same RGB color values will display completely different colors on your monitor.

As a general rule, I will use sRGB for anything that has skin tones or the image contains a softer mood. I use Adobe RGB for landscape, food, architecture and any other natural setting where I want maximum color.

Watch and listen to the differences explained in 3D wire frame of the color volume for each profile.

By using Adobe RGB you will obtain much richer color on press when printed on coated stock.

Questions? Leave your comments below…

[learn_more caption=”Transcript of Video” state=”open”]

Today we’re going to explain the differences between the two common RGB color profiles, sRGB and Adobe RGB. Right now you’re looking at 3-dimensional wire frame of the sRGB color profile.
[00:18] If we take a look from the top down, along the bottom you’ll see an outline in two dimensions of the size of the color gamut.

[00:30] Within Color Think, we can quantify the number of colors in the gamut. You’ll notice here that the gamut volume is approximately nine hundred thousand different colors. A very big color profile.

[00:45] sRGB is known as the lowest common denominator so depending on whether you have a high-end Eizo monitor or low-cost Dell monitor, whatever it happens to be, it kind of dummifies the color so that the color looks consistent on each of those devices.

[0:01:00] Now when we move up into the Adobe color profile, (going to turn on here) notice along the bottom that it’s gotten much larger and you can see all along the bottom here, especially in the cyan and the green, that it’s pretty much proportional in that you can see its much larger.

[0:01:20] What I’m going to do here is I’m going to turn up the opacity and you’ll notice that the Adobe RGB color profile will pretty much encompass the entire sRGB profile. And notice how much larger it is now. And to give you an idea as far as to quantify the colors within Adobe RGB, we’re looking at 1.3 million colors. Almost forty five percent more colors them which you’re going to get with sRGB.

[0:01:50] Now how does this apply within Photoshop working with your images? I’m going to boot-up Photoshop and hide the background. And you’ll get an idea when I bring in an image here, the image looks really good.

[0:02:08] This is shot outdoors and we’re going to assign our profile. You’ll notice right now that we are in the sRGB color space and the image looks very good. If we toggle into the Adobe RGB color space, notice what happens with the color.

[0:02:28] The color greatly enrichens and it makes it much more lively. You’ll notice where our sample points are that the data itself will not change. So we’ll toggle back and forth and notice the color shift but the data itself did not change. That’s important to note because what’s happening is the Adobe RGB color profile is sending a different signal to Photoshop to display the color in a much more vibrant color space.

[0:02:57] Personally when I do anything with portraits or skin, I will use the sRGB color profile and if it’s outdoors or food or architecture I will go with the Adobe RGB profile to get a much more vibrant looking print when i go to press.

[0:03:16] So that’s it for today. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and leave a comment.[/learn_more]


Fitness model photography courtesy Mike Byerly Photography


41 replies on “VIDEO: sRGB and Adobe RGB Color Gamuts Explained”

Which color profile is best for photo editing and posting online: ‘Adobe RGB (1998)’ or ‘sRGB IEC…’?…

I use Adobe RGB for mostly everything that does not have skin-tones and sRGB for portrait work. By just assigning Adobe RGB profile, you can almost a quick color correction to your images, but watch out for flesh-tones. sRGB will ‘dummy-down’ color i…

yes, sRGB is intended for the web as it tries to replicate the lowest quality displays. otherwise known as ‘standard’ RGB web viewing is most consistent. Adobe RGB will provide more vibrant colors and is suitable for high-end printing applications. the Adobe RGB profile also is more proportional to a wide gamut CMYK profile used for commercial printing. consult your printer before going to press

switching to aRGB doesn’t make the image look ‘more vibrant’, it just increases saturation, it’s not like switching to aRGB has brought out more colours that were somehow hidden, it’s just altered what’s already there, which is a bad thing, you’d get the exact same print if you just upped the saturation on the sRGB image to match the perceived look of the new aRGB image, and you even showed us in colour think that there is almost no difference between srgb and argb in the red channel

so what u mean is its better to capture in aRGB first otherwise ur falsifying the image and PS is basically making those colours up. is that what u mean? coz i never use sRGB as u can take away the extra stuff captured in aRGB and just remove them for web use rather than making extra colours from nothing (like interpolation with pixels) or am i completely lost and screwing my images lol

If you shoot raw you’re capturing the full range of available colour anyway, the sRGB/aRGB setting in your camera only applies to JPEG captures. So shoot raw and import into lightroom as prophoto RGB or adobe RGB, then convert to sRGB when outputting for the web, although really the extra colours you get using aRGB (or prophoto) won’t make your images better, a good image with just 256 colours is better than a bad image with 17,000,000 colours

The problem with aRGB and sRGB is that it is like handing a bag of washing to a friend and leaving them to sort out the colours and the whites, do you trust them to sort it properly or would you rather do it yourself Opening a sRGB image in aRGB (or vice versa) is the same deal, sometimes it gets the conversion right, but other times it will mix up and shift the colours, by converting the image to the right profile before you output it allows you to make sure the image still looks how it should

ima lost n confuse please is there a way i can you to ask a question or can i have an email where i cam email you my email you

my complicated question is ? Let say i would set my camera under adobeRGB then my photoshop also adobe rgb but when i covert the file onto rgb to print would i is lose my color tonality or i would not

If I understand your question properly, no, you would not suffer any greatly noticeable color shifts. If you had an extremely saturated Adobe RGB image, you would see a slight color change due to the fact that Adobe RGB is a larger color gamut than sRGB. Remember that you are ‘converting’ your photo from Adobe RGB to sRGB therefore you will get the closest color match. This would not be the case if you ‘assign’ the sRGB profile from a Adobe RGB image; this would greatly change color.

thank you so much you have no idea how bad i been waiting for the respond, So this is what i am going to be doing from now on.
I will set my camera to adobe RGB then my photoshop raw area to adobe RGB then one i covert to JPG in photoshop i will set it adobEe RGB instead of my printers profile so i should be ok right??? or should i set the JGP area in photoshop to printer profile before i go to print???

I need some clarification. Are you outputting to a photo lab? Most of these color print vendors prefer a sRGB tagged image. You can do this in Photoshop by using ‘Save for Web and Devices’ and clicking the ‘convert to sRGB’ radio button. This will provide them with the correct file. If you’re shooting portraits, you may like the softer colors of shooting in sRGB. Give it a try and let me know your results!

today was a blessing day, i can now say is that i can fly high as a photographer now my tones finely pop out the way i always want to show on my photos thanks to this video so i am now going pass on the video link to millions of photographers. and i am sure they would love the information as much i do. So thanks you God for sending this info in my photography life is n always be a true blessing.

Hi there. Thanks for the video. I have a fairly decent understanding of colour spaces, but I’m having difficulty with my images looking great on web, and great printed on photo paper, but coming out dull desaturated, and generally soft looking when the clients send the images for print in magazines. They are interior and architecture photography. Do you have any insight for me? I’m at a loss, and worried about losing clients over this issue.

it sounds like you do not have the correct CMYK profile for the magazine printer. what CMYK profile are you converting to and what RGB color space are you working in to begin with?

I have no profile for the printer. I edit for a photographer, I send her 300ppi tiffs. She shoots in Adobe RGB, I work in Adobe RGB in photoshop, then I convert to sRGB at the end. She sends the files to the client, and the client sends the files to the magazine editor. They are different magazines, and I dont think I can communicate with them directly, so can’t access a profile. I dont convert to CMYK. I assumed the printer would do this accurately. Would it result in more accuracy If I did it?

When im editing photos in photoshop they look great but when I upload to the internet the seem to have very dark shadows??

Chances are you are working in a large RGB gamut, Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB, and most browsers will default to sRGB. Safari, desktop version, is the only ‘big’ browser that supports color management. You may want to open your images and ‘convert’ them to sRGB and re-upload. This has worked for me in the past with web images that go flat.

I’m confused by this video. Does Youtube allow videos to be broadcast in Adobe RGB? For that matter, does Firefox or Chrome allow Adobe RGB? If not, why should I see any perceptible difference between the examples shown in this video?

Shouldn’t the Photoshop colour profile always match the camera’s settings? I.e. if you use Adobe RGB, view it in Adobe RGB in Photoshop. Then if you are going to post to the internet, or go to a regular print shop, convert the image to sRGB.

No, because when switching colour space the colour assigned to each value change (although they will probably be similar).

E.g. Say a pixel has a colour value of ‘abcdef’, the colour ‘abcdef’ in sRGB colour space will be different from ‘abcdef’ in Adobe RGB. The image file will not save the actual colour space but where in the colour space that pixel should get its colour from.

That’s how I’ve always understood it anyway so it might be wrong, but that explanation make sense to me.

Hi, I’ve been using my DSLR for a year now and didn’t know what RGB meant, so thank’s for your help. Just 1 question though, I never use photoshop or anything and I am wondering if I will still benefit from using adobe RGB. Also, why do you not recomend it for portrait?

The volume does not represent more colours its just a greater volume ie a wider gamut, but not more individual colours. Both sRGB and adobe RGB do 16.7 million colours. Gamut is how those coulours are spaced out. Adobe is further spacing meaning wider range at the sacrifice of fidelity. i.e. two consecutive shades of green have a greater difference between each other in aRGB than in sRGB. overall count of coulours is the same. basically aRGB has more colour banding but gains range i.e redest red

I’m surprised it took this look to get that comment! Yes, you’re correct. The math will limit you to 16.7, and yes the colors are spaced out more, however, I believe it’s a little easier for people to comprehend this format. Not many people have monitors to view the whole Adobe gamut anyhow…thanks for your comment Drake!

What part of the video is confusing? Maybe I can clarify things for you…Every monitor displays color differently. The reason why you choose an RGB profile is that everyone can see the image the same way when they use the same profile. sRGB is the most basic RGB profile, therefore the color is not as intense as Adobe RGB.

Does this help a bit? Let me know…

Dear Rick Rys, Thank you for your helpful video. Could you help me some more? I like photography, when I process my raw pictures and export it into jpg picture files I saw that the color of the exported file had changed so much, it was not look like the colour in photoshop. I am using a macbook OS X Lion with pts 6.0, could you please help me how can I set up my device and software to make the exported file has the same color with the file appeared in PTS? Which color space should I use i use?

When you say they don’t look the same as they did in PS, where/how are you viewing them? Through a web browser? or back in PS?

I just opened the jpg file in my hardisk and the color seem to be changed when I placed it beside the image was viewing in PTS. I upload my picture in Facebook using Google Chrome, it think it is similar with the jpg in hardisk.

Sounds like maybe you shot the image in Adobe RGB, from camera, and if you are viewing the image through a browser, it will default to sRGB as web browsers currently do not support embedded profiles. Open the image up, the one you like the color on, and CONVERT to sRGB and that will fix your problem or use the Save For Web feature and make sure the Convert to sRGB button is checked.

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