Hey gurus! This is doing my head in!! So you think calibration solves all? ...... No.
I have a U2711 IPS monitor which I love and this week I acquired a Sypder3Elite hardware calibrator which has made it better....well I thought so anyway! My monitor calibrates well and I'm happy with the result. It shows a colour space (in the calibration report) which is reasonably close to AdobeRGB which I thought was good. Everything looks and feels nice...
Today while editing I found that different browsers are treating my photos differently. I've been a firefox user for years, but for a few reasons just switched over to Chrome for my general browsing. I am fully aware that Firefox is colour managed and Chrome is not. IE9 it seems is supposed to be colour managed but I'm not so sure what it's up to after today. So take this photo as an example which is pretty flat as you see it (a client has ordered it so I did some work on it and then discovered all these issues!!). Look at it in firefox and a non colour managed browser if you can. In Firefox it looks ok and it matches what I see in Lightroom nicely. But look at it in Chrome and the reds are terribly oversaturated. The edited version for the client is much worse! Fair enough I thought, Chrome is not colour managed.
I upload direct from Lightroom to Smugmug so don't usually look in Windows. This experiment made me think I should and on looking at it I found that it looks terrible just like the Chrome display. OK, I've read that windows isn't colour managed either which is kind of weird but anyway! So now you're probably thinking what's the issue, no surprises there? Well IE9 is now supposed to be colour managed, but no, again my reds are terrible. Why is it so?
Anyway this prompted me to explore what is happening when I upload direct to Smugmug, apparently LR export to SM is by default in sRGB mode which is fine (and can't be changed). It seems that Firefox can handle this! I continue to dig...
On more exploring, I found this site which talks about colour managed browsers. The site behaves as I thought, Firefox is colour aware, Chrome is not, and IE9 according to this site is, but my image says otherwise, don't know why! Most of it makes sense to me but I ran into an issue when comparing an image that is tagged sRGB (ie profile included in image) vs an image which is not but should be displayed as sRGB as that is the default for the internet. Now these images should look the same but even in firefox they do not! The untagged version suffers the same red issues as I described before. Seems the author of the site is all over this issue and he describes it in detail here but doesn't have a solution.
AHHHHHH So I have a monitor now that looks great in LR and great in Firefox for any images with sRGB profile included, but for images that are untagged with a profile they look terrible in windows and on any browser.
Now my big issue:
My concern is that digital images I sell to people are not being seen the way I intend, by the person downloading it from the Smugmug gallery or opening the email I send, or by the people seeing it posted online and viewed in who knows which browser. So now I'm confused, could it be that smugmug just makes my images 'untagged'? That would be bad for my clients that download images from there and then use them elsewhere! I think they are sRGB because they behave in Firefox, but I'm confused!
I hadn't noticed the difference was all that much before I calibrated my monitor (maybe it was, but I never noticed). So now what do I do? Do I recalibrate with my monitor set on sRBG (and use a reduced gamut, such a waste) and hope that what I edit to is consistent throughout (I'm not even sure that would be the case though!). Do I suck it up and live with it? I just don't know.