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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

sRGB or aRGB
Michael L. Stein, Photographer
Smithtown | NY | USA | Posted: 8:23 AM on 07.13.11
->> I am shooting with Canon 1D Mark IV....wondering do you guys set color space to aRGB or sRGB? Shooting for web and print. Thanks.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 9:06 AM on 07.13.11
->> For websites and general display devices (ipads, cell phones, consumer monitors etc) sRGB is the preferred colorspace, aRGB will tend to display as washed out or muddy. For print it will depend on the device or the space that the lab is using. You should check with the lab and provide files in the appropriate space.
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Samuel Lewis, Photographer
Miami | FL | USA | Posted: 9:06 AM on 07.13.11
->> sRGB generally refers to the color space commonly used on computer monitors, printers, etc. However, it is a smaller color space than Adobe RGB or various others that now exist.

I always shoot in the larger color space (Adobe RGB) with the idea being that there are more colors for high-quality prints. If I want to output something for the web, I can always convert the image from the larger color space to sRGB (while you can convert from the smaller color space to a larger one, the conversion will not create the extra colors that your camera might have been able to record).

Hope this helps.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 3:32 PM on 07.13.11
->> I shoot everything Adobe RGB/RAW/14 bit. You never know when you're going to want to print something, and I'm a great believer in High Quality In, High(er) Quality Out.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 9:07 PM on 07.13.11
->> If ... you are shooting RAW ... and using third party RAW conversion software (like ACR/Lightroom) the in-camera color profile setting is of little use ... other than maybe offering a more accurate histogram readout on the camera's LCD ... compared to what you will see in the RAW conversion software ....

I find working with the widest gamut color profile available can offer up the most information possible by the tools we use ... though if you only ever have the needs of a narrower gamut of sRGB, like shooting strictly jpegs for web and/or lab print usage ... it wouldn't hurt you to set sRGB in-camera ...
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 12:44 PM on 07.14.11
->> Here are some examples I use when teaching my college level photo classes.

The difference between sRGB and RGB is like playing a concerto piece on the piano. Using all 88 keys is RGB while sRGB is using only the white keys. The music is basically the same, but you're missing a lot without the black key notes.

The difference between sRGB and RGB is like when you were a little kid drawing with Crayola crayons. The 16-color box is sRGB while the 48-color box is RGB. The quality of your artwork is going to be a lot more realistic using the bigger box.

The difference between sRGB and RGB is like listening to music recordings. A mp3 file contains a small fraction of the tonal range that a 33-rpm analog record has.

The difference between sRGB and RGB is like comparing a b/w photograph printed from a digital file to one made from a negative. The digital file contains 255 shades of gray while the negative made one has millions of continuous tones between pure black and pure white.

And the above comparisons can also be used to demonstrate the difference between shooting RAW versus .jpg files.

One should always strive for the best quality possible. Then later, one can always downsize the images to fit the need.

Just keep in mind that you cannot go in the opposite direction. Once you have lobotimized your image, you can't restore its tonal range, detail resolution, etc. The brilliance is lost. If one could go backwards, publications and TV stations would have their staffs shoot with cell phone cameras and flip cams to save a boat load of money on quality equipment. But wait, some already do. And such is the decline of our industry in respect to quality and the dummy-ing down of expectations.
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Phil Hawkins, Photographer
Fresno | ca | usa | Posted: 3:13 PM on 07.14.11
->> To expound on what I said earlier, I teach in my workshops to set your camera on Adobe RGB, RAW, 14-bit, 100 ISO, turn off ALL in-camera noise reduction processes (among other recommendations that have nothing to do with this thread...). There is a debate about whether any of this actually affects a RAW image, raw is raw, but not being an advanced technical expert in the inner workings of advanced DSLRs, it's very easy to just set it for optimum results and you're covered.

Dougs' comments are perfect for putting this issue into the proper perspective. I use the Crayola crayons example and I can see the lights coming on in all my students.
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Tim Huntington, Photographer
Monterey | CA | USA | Posted: 8:54 PM on 07.14.11
->> I read the following article - not sure of its validity, but it makes sense to me (not sure of my validity either!). It's basically saying you've got 48 crayons regardless of color space; just that those 48 crayons represent different colors in the different spaces.

It would appear the end use of the images dictates the best color space to use.

Have a read:
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/sRGB-AdobeRGB1998.htm
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 9:35 PM on 07.14.11
->> Tim...

Yes and no.

The camera's sensor collects all 48 crayon colors at the time of capture regardless. It is the camera settings/color space that determine how many and which colors are processed/recorded within the files.

For maximum color, RGB is it. For maximum control and resolution, then RAW, 14-bit, etc.

If you want the lowest quality, then sRGB with .jpg set at Basic resolution and the lowest bit-rate Instead of getting 50-60 highest res/color RAW images on a 1-gig card, you'll get over a thousand that will look fine on Facebook and in prints no larger than 4x6.
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Tim Huntington, Photographer
Monterey | CA | USA | Posted: 10:36 PM on 07.14.11
->> Doug,

Focusing purely on color space.

If I let the camera process the image into the file (ie I'm not shooting RAW) and I choose adobe RGB and the end destination is either the web or a printer that takes an sRGB profile, am I not wasting valuable bits recording colors that my target destinations can't cope with anyway?

Wouldn't I be better using sRGB in that environment so that all my valuable bits were being used to record data that would eventually be used by my target destinations (and in the process, having a more granular digitization of the original analog scene)?

--

I understand that if I shoot RAW, then a 14 bit RAW image becomes a 16 bit image on the computer and therefore I capture everything the sensor did and I'm not wasting valuable bits if my destination is sRGB, 'cos now I have bits to spare.

In this scenario, there's little to no difference in processing the RAW image into Adobe RGB or sRGB if my target destination is sRGB (assuming I convert to 8 bit sRGB for the final product) - the only time it would make a difference is if my subsequent manipulation of the image (toning etc.) moved certain pixels from an Adobe RGB only color into one supported by both.

Or am I missing something here?

Thanks for you patience in answering these questions.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 11:14 PM on 07.14.11
->> "In this scenario, there's little to no difference in processing the RAW image into Adobe RGB or sRGB if my target destination is sRGB (assuming I convert to 8 bit sRGB for the final product) - the only time it would make a difference is if my subsequent manipulation of the image (toning etc.) moved certain pixels from an Adobe RGB only color into one supported by both."

Not necessarily ... there are many third party RAW converters that can employ much better and more intricate algorithms than the camera applies when squeezing the data the sensor captures ... into that sRGB 8 bit jpg file ... for if those options didn't offer a little something more in the way of control and applying a more preferred individual flavor of tone, color, contrast and detail ... there would be many more staunch jpeg shooters living within the confines of what the camera makers think we want ...

*** ... That last bit was not meant in any way to disparage those who shoot jpeg in-camera ... just the reasoning behind why many RAW shooters prefer using the larger data files ... many prefer their images with a personal "seasoning" ... ***
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David Harpe, Photographer
Denver | CO | USA | Posted: 11:27 PM on 07.14.11
->> Always better to shoot in the larger space and downconvert rather than lose that option altogether in the camera. Tools like PhotoMechanic and Lightroom make it very easy to convert as a part of the crop/resize/export process anyway, so there is really no reason not to shoot Adobe RGB from a workflow perspective - and storage is cheap.

The biggest risk with AdobeRGB is if an AdobeRGB file ends up in the hands of a person who doesn't have a color managed workflow or doesn't understand colorspace and uses the AdobeRGB file straight without any conversion. The colors will look flat, skew slightly green, and generally look bad.

For most end users I stay safe and give them sRGB files that I have converted properly from RAW masters (or AdobeRGB if shooting jpeg only) UNLESS I have talked to the designer/end user myself and know that they know colorspaces and use a color managed workflow. Never had any complaints. Most people are happy because when they print it on their desktop printer, post it on the web or look at it on the phone, the colors look the same. As long as you tone correctly, the results are great.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 11:34 PM on 07.14.11
->> Tim...

If all you're doing is shooting for the web and/or having prints made at a one-hour photo lab that uses nothing but sRGB profiles, and you want nothing more from your image files nor do you want to tweak the color spaces, then setting your camera to sRGB will work. This is how point&shoot, prosumer and cell phone cameras are set up to work by default -- to take advantage of the lowest common denominators.

However, by shooting RGB and maintaining the larger gamut, you not only give yourself flexibility, but you still have the sRGB color space available by converting your RGB. And that can be done with a click of the mouse via creating a Photoshop action. Plus, some pro labs have printers that can utilize RGB -- not just sRGB -- or they can get better results by converting your RGB file to sRGB themselves since their computers and printers are calibrated/sync'd together. So sending your RGB files to those type labs can produce better results than sending sRGB ones. And those better results result in higher prices you can charge for your services.

Also, if any of your images are going to a publication, then the CMYK produced file conversions from your RGB profiles will look better in print than if the CMYK files were converted from sRGB profiles. Why? Because there is more color information in the RGB for the CMYK conversion process to utilize.

Here's another way to think of it. Let's say you need transportation to/from work. But on occassion you need to do some highway or cross country driving. So what do you buy? A 100cc scooter or a 500cc Harley? Their cost is the same. The logical choice is the larger bike. Why? Because you can always throttle it down to scooter speed while having the capability to do some serious road work. Same with RGB versus sRGB. You record all your options as RGB and then throttle down to sRGB when needed.

Regarding your "wasting valuable bits" statement, there is no waste when shooting RGB because it has the sRGB color space within it. And the file size differences are neglible so there is no waste of hard drive space.

As another example, let's say you have a choice of buying either a 250- or 500-gig hard drive for your 200-gig special project where the cost of each drive is identical. Buying the lesser drive will work. But what if your client wants something special unexpected -- like an image file to be used on a billboard. Now your project is 360 gigs in size. Buying the 250-gig drive (sRGB) won't work now. But had you bought the 500-gig drive (RGB) instead, your client's special project would easily fit on the drive.

Having your camera set to RGB gives you a variety of options, including the sRGB color space. But shooting just sRGB will surely paint yourself in a corner. And it will occur just when you unexpectantly need that larger profile.
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Tim Huntington, Photographer
Monterey | CA | USA | Posted: 12:16 AM on 07.15.11
->> Butch,

Apologies for not being more specific - when I was talking about processing the RAW image, I meant out of camera - I totally agree that processing a RAW file on a computer gives you much more control than the, in comparison, rather crude adjustments a camera can provide.

All,

While I think we're all in agreement that RAW gives you the most flexibility both now and in to the future, there are a couple of points I disagree with - and have yet to hear an argument against them that convinces me I'm wrong.

David,

you said "...there is really no reason not to shoot Adobe RGB from a workflow perspective..." - I disagree - if I'm using the camera to process, and it spends its 8 bits per channel recording an Adobe RGB space when I have no intention of using the image outside of a sRGB environment, aren't I potentially wasting bits on out of sRGB gamut colors and spreading my remaining bits thin on the colors I can use?

Doug,

As Butch said earlier, if I'm shooting RAW, isn't in camera color space setting irrelevant? Doesn't the in camera color space setting only come into its own if I'm letting the camera process the image (typically, to a JPEG) - and if I'm doing that, and I have a sRGB target as my final destination (which besides one hour photo labs also includes a lot of labs aimed at professionals), doesn't sRGB give me a more granular image?

Having owned motorcycles capable of 150+mph, trying to get them to do 25mph in traffic is rather hard as the throttle is so sensitive it either wants to stop or head off to a faster speed - granularity has its benefits.

And sure, the RGB has the sRGB space within it - but if you have 16 bits and shoot RGB, only 14 or so of the bits are covering the sRGB space within it - but if you shoot sRGB in the first place, all 16 bits are covering it (in a more granular way).

Finally, to all,

I'm all for shooting RAW - I do so myself, process in Adobe RGB in 16 bits on the computer and then convert to a format suitable for the target destination. I just think things like the 16 crayons versus 48 crayons analogy is a misleading oversimplification.
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Butch Miller, Photographer
Lock Haven | PA | USA | Posted: 12:49 PM on 07.15.11
->> To clarify my offering of selection of an RGB color space in-camera when shooting RAW ... indeed ... it really isn't detrimental for the vast majority of images ... though it can have an impact on how you perceive what has been captured when viewing the image on the camera itself ...

When you select say Adobe RGB and shoot RAW, the resulting histogram you can see on your camera's LCD screen is based upon that particular image's embedded jpeg preview which has had the Adobe RGB color space embedded ... this histogram could look much different if you chose to use sRGB, as that color space will render many colors differently by squeezing them to fit within the smaller gamut ...

Now, when you ultimately import that RAW file into a RAW converter, other than those created by camera manufacturer, the rendering you see could look altogether differently than what you saw on the camera LCD because the third party RAW converters ignore the embedded jpeg and create their own based upon the preferences you have established ... especially if you are using say Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom which use a derivative of ProPhoto RGB which is even a wider gamut than Adobe RGB ...

So if you view a RAW image on the camera's LCD with the camera set to apply the RGB colorspace ... then view it in Lightroom with the RAW converter displaying the image using ProPhoto RGB ... it could be a whole different look than what you thought you were capturing ... and in some cases, you might clip in either the highlights or shadows (or both in some scenes) and not realize you did so based upon the info the camera was giving you via the in-camera histograms ... as compared to what is really there in the RAW data file itself ...
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 4:35 PM on 07.15.11
->> If you have to ask...always do everything in sRGB.

Most "advice" on color space is absolutely wrong. My suggestion is to read "Real World Color Management" by the late, great Bruce Fraser, et al. If you don't understand it, see paragraph above.
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Thread Title: sRGB or aRGB
Thread Started By: Michael L. Stein
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