SRGB or AdobeRGB: What's the Difference Anyway?

Color is one of the most important aspects of photography. It's good to know what your settings should be if you're planning on printing or publishing to the web. This video explains the difference in a simple way. 

In my experience, sRGB keeps the colors contained, whether the image is shared online, in an email, or via an app. It's obviously due to the compression and removal of most of the colors, but the advantage is that the image color remains the same. That's the benefit for me. 

AdobeRGB has more information contained. If you're planning on printing your photograph, it depends on the printer you'll be printing with, whether you're going to have Photoshop or the printer's software handle the color aspects, which at first was quite intimidating at first. It's also something to pay attention to if you're handing the images off to the creative director who will be laying out the photo in a magazine. It's not that difficult to achieve, but do know that you can basically see the sending of files as part of your workflow, and you'll get better through trial and error, or that's what happened to me. 

As professionals, we obviously shoot in raw, so the color space doesn't matter on camera, but, once downloaded and worked through, it's important to keep the color space you've selected throughout the project. You can't go back once you've changed it from AdobeRGB to sRGB. I understand that we usually keep the raw files, but if you've done hours of retouching and coloring, you don't want to have to do it again. 

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Roger Knopf's picture

SRGB "removes most of the colors"? That stopped me from viewing the video because it's so patently wrong.

Wouter du Toit's picture

I wouldn't want there to be a missunderstanding. With sRGB, you have less color information, therefor less defined, nuanced colors in your image.

Paul Trantow's picture

Ha, yeah, maybe "shrinks the gamut" or something would be accurate. Note that FStoppers Wouter du Toit wrote that, and I'm assuming David Bergman, who made the video, doesn't use that language. But yeah, I'll think I'll give this one a miss too. Also, this would make a great blog post. As usual, the video medium is unnecessary and time-consuming.

Phil Tarrant's picture

I disagree totally with the analogy of srgb having 35 times as many colours as sRGB. As a prepress person, I find that most photographers are ignoring colour management and blame prepress for their bad results. Default settings are pretty safe but you can't supply untagged images and expect good print. This guy says that if you change it they get clipped. That is true, but if you convert correctly, you won't really see the difference. ProPhoto is a massive waste of space, most of it's data is ignored when converting for print (hint: the name "pro photo" doesn't mean 'professional photographer'). A commercial printer worth his salt will want either a large gamut RGB or CMYK with EMBEDDED profile. Jpg at 100% is fine if it has embedded profile. We assume RGB images with no embedded profile are sRGB. If you supply AdobeRGB with no embedded profile, and your prepress person doesn't do proper colour management, your photos are broken before they start.

Larry Chism's picture

Vincent Versace is a Nikon ambassador, he has a couple of videos about color space and printing and monitors that cover color space. Its is a very deep dive into the rabbit hole of colors.

My settings for my Nikon Z7 are Adobe RGB and 14 bit raw.