Color Space: The Final Frontier

4023_01Most digital SLRs give you a choice of capturing image in either sRGB or Adobe RGB aka Adobe RGB 1998. What’s the difference?

sRGB (Standard RGB) was created in 1999 with a goal of producing color consistency between hardware devices. It defines a gamut (see What’s a Gamut? Below) of colors that represents each color and is used by monitors, scanners, printers, and digital cameras. sRGB has been incorporated into most Web browsers to make sure the colors on Web pages match the color scheme of the operating system. Because of the color consistency it creates, most hardware devices that work with images now use it as the default setting. All of which sounds very inviting, doesn’t it?


Adobe RGB is designed for photographers whose work appear in print and offers a broader range of colors than sRGB. If you want to really make yourself crazy, you can Google “sRGB vs. Adobe RGB” and read opinions about it from a wide range of viewpoints. colorspace3Being a pragmatist, I suggest you do the same thing with this color space argument as you do with the 8-bit vs. 16-bit controversy. Shoot some tests, make some prints, and then decide. This is the way we worked back in the film days and the methodology is still valid today, even if the tools are a little different.

What’s a Gamut? In color reproduction, gamut is a certain complete subset of colors which can be accurately represented under a specific condition, such as within a given color space or via a certain output device. Converting a digitized image to a different color space, typically alters its gamut, i.e, some of the colors in the original are lost in the process.

Author: Joe Farace

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