Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Nikon D800 Color Space sRGB or Adobe RGB

Nikon D800 Color Space sRGB or Adobe RGB

Although color space does not matter for RAW files, I now use AdobeRGB because it gives a slightly more accurate histogram to determine the correct exposure.
Since the camera shows histogram based on camera-rendered JPEG image, even if you shoot exclusively in RAW.


Color Space       
Don't touch this unless you really know what you're doing and print your own work.

sRGB is the default. It's the world standard for digital images, printing and the Internet. Use it and you'll get great, accurate colors everywhere, all the time. Like what you see in my Gallery? That's all coming to you in sRGB. Use sRGB and you'll automatically get great, saturated and accurate color everywhere. See Color Management is for Wimpsfor examples.
sRGB is specified in IEC 61966-2.1, which you may also see when examining color profiles. That gobbledygook means the same thing as sRGB.

Adobe RGB
Never use AdobeRGB unless you really know what you're doing and do all your printing yourself. If you use Adobe RGB you'll have to remember to convert back to sRGB for sending your prints out or sharing them on the Internet. Otherwise they look duller than sRGB!
Adobe RGB squeezes colors into a smaller range (makes them duller) before recording them to your file. Special smart software is then needed to expand the colors back to where they should be when opening the file.

If you have the right software to re-expand the colors you theoretically might have a slightly broader range of colors. However, if at any point in the chain you don't have the right software and haven't attached the Adobe RGB profile you'll get the duller colors as recorded instead!
Web browsers don't have, and print labs rarely have, the right software to read Adobe RGB. This is why people who shoot it are so often disappointed. Even if a place has the right software, if you forget to add the Adobe RGB profiles to your files these places still won't read them correctly and you'll get dull colors.

Adobe RGB may be able to represent a slightly larger range of colors, but no screen or print material I've used can show this broader range, so why cause yourself all the trouble? I've experimented with 100% saturated grads in these two color spaces and never seen any broader range from Adobe RGB either on my screen or on SuperGloss Light jet prints.
Worse, if you're the sort of vacuum-operating geek who wants to shoot Adobe RGB because you read about it in a magazine article, did you realize that because the colors are compressed into a smaller range that there is more chroma quantization noise when the file is opened again? Ha!

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