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Thread: Colour space discussion re: end result

  1. #1
    Shore Crawler Dylan & Marianne's Avatar
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    Colour space discussion re: end result

    I wanted to touch on a topic which I raised during a talk at the WAPF Merredin event last weekend (HUGE thanks to everyone that attended
    During my section of the talk, I mentioned that I work in sRGB because of issues with converting back to sRGB after working in other colour spaces.
    I was wondering what people's experience is regarding some of these issues and points

    - I realise that sRGB is more restrictive than Adobe or prophoto and the resultant pixel loss is clearly evident on things like levels histograms (fractured lines etc). There are so many reasons theoretically to work in a less restrictive colour space.
    - However, when working with 16 bit TIFFs, I find I rarely encounter issues with posterisation from the editing process and if I do, it's probably because I'm pushing the file too close to it's pixellated life anyway and should probably reconsider.
    - Despite browsers having the ability to handle other colour spaces, many sites such as 500px which provide thumbnails are affected by the colour space of uploaded images (eg. on 500px I uploaded images in adobe98 only to find that the thumbnail looked bled dry but the actual uploaded image looks good). The printing lab we use also work preferentially with sRGB.
    - When initially working in Adobe98 , I have found issues when converting back even at the last stage , that the contrast and colours become duller than those I was working with which then adds an extra step to attempt correcting it for output.
    - Conversely I have not had any issue with working in 16 bit and converting back to 8bit for output in terms of image quality hence I made that change to our workflow a couple of years ago after discussion here!

    To summarise my thoughts, I would love to be able to work in a better colour space than sRGB but I find that by doing so I haven't found any 'real world' benefits in terms of allowing me to do more to images than I otherwise would. The end result looks great in photoshop but translating that into output then adds another step at the end of the process to convert the image to sRGB and restore its appearance. I'm wondering if I'm fixing a problem I don't really have if I try to change workflow again.

    Have you had experiences where the theoretical pixel loss from colour manipulation in sRGB has been evident in the actual end result for output?
    Love to hear your experiences and I would also love to be swayed to work in a colour space other than sRGB !
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  2. #2
    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    I've had the opposite experience. I have gone back to editing everything in AdobeRGB as the results seem to be much better. I seem to have far more scope to manipulate colour which often seems to get clipped with sRGB. That may just be the way I process, of course, and it may be a fault with my setup, but it does seem to work better for me. I leave them in AdobeRGB, so some people will not see them correctly. I agree that there is a problem with conversion to sRGB as I have found that things which have a perfect histogram in AdobeRGB can suddenly become hot in sRGB and what was a beautiful colour grading takes on an oversaturated look.
    I was fascinated to hear your experiences as it's not a subject that is much discussed.

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    All I can say is that I agree steve! the colour space is definitely better to work with - I've just had trouble translating that universally to output

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    I don't know what the solution is. Either way there are problems and I guess for you, consistent output is critical. Do let us know if you figure out an acceptable method.
    Just as an observation. I find that photos of intense reds or yellows come out worst when converted to sRGB. The only way to get good colour is to drop the exposure a lot and that, of course, isn't a great solution.

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    I will let people know if I find a solution!
    As an example of the thumbnail issue, our 500px page is this link : http://500px.com/everlookphotography

    If you have a look at the 'yin yang' waterfall image (1st on 5th row down) , the thumbnail looks flat but if you click on it, the actual picture is what it looked like in photoshop. http://500px.com/photo/38574648

    This was uploaded in adobeRGB format
    Last edited by Dylan & Marianne; 27-08-2013 at 3:14pm.

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    Sunrise Chaser
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    I went through this problem ages ago myself Dylan, I used to process in AdobeRGB, Then when converting to sRGB for the web it lost punch and colour , I have no fix for you , But thought your not the Lone Ranger ,Waiting to see some more comments on this , BTW , Now I follow Scott Kelbys advice,Which is shoot and process in the colour space that you'll be printing at, With me sRGB from incamera right through to printing , My 2 bobs worth - Bill
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  7. #7
    Ausphotography Regular wmphoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    ...shoot and process in the colour space that you'll be printing at, With me sRGB from incamera right through to printing , My 2 bobs worth - Bill
    Same here. As there is no one solution, then the next best option I feel is consistency.

  8. #8
    Moderately Underexposed I @ M's Avatar
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    The one thing I look at is whether a commercial print facility can print the actual adobe rgb gamut.
    As far as I know there are relatively few printers that do and whilst they happily accept files in the adobe space and their print machines are profiled to accept adobe, the final print still outputs in the srgb space.
    Some people say they can see a differenece with a file submitted in adobe gamut and printed in srgb and it is a hard point to argue when you don't have an identical image printed in both formats in front of you.
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  9. #9
    Who let the rabble in? Lance B's Avatar
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    Like you, Dylan, I had issues when converting back from AdobeRGB to make it palatable on the web. I just use 16bit TIFFS as well and never have colour issues whatsoever when going to sRGB. The web is in sRGB, so that makes it easy.

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    Ausphotography Regular
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    One of the proverbial "can o worms" and I am surprised more have not waded in.
    I use Sony camera raw for images and process them using CS6 in RGB. I will only convert to sRGB for web or for camera club where the designated format for the projector is sRGB.

    Personally I do not believe RGB sRGB it makes a lot of difference with today's technology but who knows where it will be in another 5 years so I leave as much information available for the future as possible.
    My current printer (Epson R2400) accepts RGB data so this makes the decision easier....john

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    Thanks guys , it's interesting , I thought I was a minority working in srgb but it seems not! Bill, Scott Kelbys words never appeared wiser

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    As long as you are working on raw files, the colour space the colour space you choose to use isn't really important except for a few specific needs.

    That is, if you are working on your image for web presentation, or sRGB printing, just use sRGB whilst working on the raw file.
    Save everything in sRGB.

    If you are looking to print the image via a high quality commercial printer(as Andrew mentioned), just go back to the raw file and set the colour space of the raw file to aRGB for saving the raster image for this special print.

    This is what the printer had told me to do ..... wayyy back, which when you think about it makes perfectly good sense.

    If you convert a raster image from one colour space to another, the conversion process may have an impact on the final output.
    And converting from sRGB to aRGB is technically futile too.

    But if the need arises for a raw image to be saved into two different colourspaces for different purposes, always do the colour space change at the raw file level.

    Raw files have no colourspace awareness .. they are accurately mapped to whichever space you choose in your raw converter software, much more accurately than trying to do a conversion from one to another on a raster image.

    I stopped using aRGB ages ago .. it's a bit of a waste when web presentation is all that's required.
    For the very few times I've had Prism print my images, I go back to the raw file, set the colourspace to aRGB, save as an uncompressed tiff and hand it them for printing.
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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    As AK said, RAW files do not have a colourspace. So until you start processing it, the colourspace is really irrelevant. I capture and process in AdobeRGB right through to only converting to sRGB for saving the web sized file. For me, the issues people are experiencing on 500px etc is not a fault in your file methodology but rather a fault in the 500px website creation of thumbnails.

    As more and more monitors reach 98% 99% 100% of AdobeRGB I think using the biggest colourspace you can cannot be of harm. We also have to remember that man people who view our photos probably do so on uncalibrated monitors so we instantly lose control over how the photo looks to them, anyway.

    sRGB is probably still the best colourspace for web upload, but it doesn't mean we have to work in sRGB all the way through our workflow.

    All we can do is strive to produce the best we can, with the tools we use.
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    arthur and rick, I'm not sure I understand 100% your discussion about starting from RAW for the output colourspace.
    At the end of my workflow for an image in photoshop which may take up to an hour for a particular image, I'm working in 16 bit and I have to save it in some format other than RAW dont I? I guess I could save it as a PSD?
    Unless you're suggesting that every time I need to have a different output medium I start from scratch in photoshop from the RAW file? ( I do alot more in CS5 than in LR)

    Even so, that's kind of not really what I was asking - it was more a question of "Yes prophoto and adobeRGB have bigger gamuts but what real-world effects can be demonstrated given the output means available at present?" or alternatively , am I really disadvantaged by working in sRGB as some people have suggested to me?
    I'd love to take advantage of those extra colours but practically, I haven't really seen a way to do so as yet

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    I was just saying that when we start in RAW we have no colourspace. It is up to us to decide where we go from there. TIF, PSD, JPG, AdobeRGB, sRGB, ProPhoto, photoshop, lightroom, aperture, paint shop pro. They really are just personal choices and what one person uses may not be what another does, but as long as it works for each of us, does it matter?

    Sometimes we over think stuff when we should not be.

    I say do what works for you!

    In the end the viewer looks at the photo and the subject of the photo and how it looks overall and decides if they like it or not. I have yet to meet someone who goes... Oh look a photo, I wonder if it was processed in lightroom or photoshop and whether they used ProPhoto or sRGB colourspace, I wonder if they rotated the image at all to straighten it (which loses detail) and did they sharpen before or after resizing for the net.
    Last edited by ricktas; 28-08-2013 at 5:08am.

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    You could always do a test. Open the same photo twice, once in sRGB once in AdobeRGB, apply exactly the same edits to both and then compare end results

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    Thanks for clarifying rick, the reason I brought this all up was because a few people did after our talk at Meredin with the flavour of the discussion that I should consider not working in srgb. Before I invest time in fixing something I currently don't have a problem with, I just wanted to see if there were any compelling real world ( vs theoretical ) arguments out there and it doesn't seem like there are at present !

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtoh View Post
    arthur and rick, I'm not sure I understand 100% your discussion about starting from RAW for the output colourspace.
    At the end of my workflow for an image in photoshop which may take up to an hour for a particular image, I'm working in 16 bit and I have to save it in some format other than RAW dont I? I guess I could save it as a PSD?
    Unless you're suggesting that every time I need to have a different output medium I start from scratch in photoshop from the RAW file? ( I do alot more in CS5 than in LR)

    Even so, that's kind of not really what I was asking - it was more a question of "Yes prophoto and adobeRGB have bigger gamuts but what real-world effects can be demonstrated given the output means available at present?" or alternatively , am I really disadvantaged by working in sRGB as some people have suggested to me?
    I'd love to take advantage of those extra colours but practically, I haven't really seen a way to do so as yet
    Workflow differences.

    I have no idea as to how PSD works, so can't really give you any info as to whether that file type preserves colourspace as a raw file does.

    I work only with raw files for editing(it's more of a software difference than anything else).

    I think I understand your workflow system with CS, in that CS doesn't directly work on the raw file.

    With a raw file, it makes no difference as to what colourspace you work with when editing. Of course I really only use Nikon's CaptureNX2 which 'works on the raw file directly'.
    While this sounds as tho the software works directly on the raw file, the reality is that the edits are made in an internal sidecar file within the raw file, so they are resettable at any time(ie. non destructive).

    But as the file being worked on is a raw file, the colourspace can be set to whatever is allowable on the list of available colourspaces without any hindrance whatsoever.
    That is, if I'm working on my raw files in the sRGB mode, and decide I want a high quality print of that image at a later date, I can change the colourspace from sRGB to aRGB(for example) without any issues.

    Remembering that I have no idea as to how PSD works, if the saved file type you are working on is sRGB, you can't subsequently map it properly to a wider gamut colourspace such as aRGB, or ProPhoto as the colour info is not actually there for an accurate conversion. It will do so anyhow, just to display the image correctly, but you gain nothing from doing so.

    So, to answer your question, if you are disadvantaged in working on files saved in sRGB, yes! If your files are tiff or jpg(that I know of).
    I would expect that Adobe has setup PSD to be colourspace independent .. but I don't know this.

    The real world advantage of just sticking with sRGB and not using a wider gamut colourspace is questionable tho if your image types aren't colourspace independent.(Your use of the term 16bit suggests TIFF file types).

    The way I see it is that, if your prints are coming out as expected, then the answer to your question is obviously no!
    If you don't see any posterisation in the prints, then you have nothing to concern yourself about.

    The only reason I ever had the need to ever set any image to aRGB was at the request of the printing firm(Prism), when I described to them the prints I asked for, they gave me a set of points to finish off my edited images. TIFF @ about 200Mb uncompressed and aRGB.
    The printer asked me what format the image was already saved as, to which my response was obviously raw type, and he gave me those points to stick too.
    Apart from that, I've never seen any advantage in using aRGB .. which is supposedly that if you push your processing to the edge, to eliminate posterisation in the graduation of colours, is where the advantage of aRGB comes into it's own.

    And for what it's worth: I don't know how 500pix works, and have never really been to the site other than as a curiosity early on in it's life.
    But what I think may be happening on that site with the thumbnails, is that if you have uploaded your images(for display) in the aRGB format, the site must preserve the metadata within the image ... which contains the colourspace info.
    What may be happening, is that the site may have back end software that creates the thumbnails, which may be stripping metadata info(and hence possibly coloursapce info).
    An image set with aRGB, and colourspace info stripped will by default be displayed in the sRGB colourspace .. ie. you will see flat colours.
    (of course this is just a guess, and the actual reason could be entirely different).

  19. #19
    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dtoh View Post
    Thanks for clarifying rick, the reason I brought this all up was because a few people did after our talk at Meredin with the flavour of the discussion that I should consider not working in srgb. Before I invest time in fixing something I currently don't have a problem with, I just wanted to see if there were any compelling real world ( vs theoretical ) arguments out there and it doesn't seem like there are at present !
    I wonder if we printed a heap of photos. Some taken with Canon, some with Nikon, some processed in photoshop, some in lightroom, some done in AdobeRGB, some in sRGB and some in ProPhoto and handed these prints (done on Epson and Canon printers) to these 'few people' and asked them to tell us which ones were which, as in which camera, which software, which colourspace, which printer, for each print, if they would even manage to get one right?

    To me it just appears to be a matter of 'my way is better than your way', when there is no definite 100% proof that it is, at this time.

    I wonder if artists lament that Leonardo did not use particular brushes when he painted the Mona Lisa and his other works?

    I think if we get down to a photo not being any good cause it was shot in a certain colourspace, or processed in a particular one, or printed on Epson not Canon, then we have lost what Photography is about.

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    I'm wondering if attending a Les Walkling workshop might help with some answers
    Though as arthur mentioned - the answer is that I'm not actually having any problems at present! It would be good to know if I am working within unecessary boundaries though

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