Lightroom 5 Export Settings - sRGB vs. ProPhoto RGB

Afflatus PhotographyAfflatus Photography Beginner grinnerRegistered Users Posts: 6 Big grins
edited January 11, 2015 in Finishing School
I've been using Lightroom 5 and exporting my finished photos as "sRGB", but should I be using "ProPhoto RGB". From what I've been able to find out the "sRGB" is best for online viewing (which is great for my website), but is it best for printing (which is what I hope my customers do)?

I can't find any information or forum discussions on the which setting is best. I've found plenty of threads talking about the smugmug plug-in for Lightroom, but I'm not interested in managing my uploads through Lightroom right now.

Thanks in advance!

www.afflatusphotography.com

Comments

  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 13, 2013
    Everything you thought you wanted to know about color gamut

    A pretty exhaustive 37 minute video examining the color gamut of RGB working spaces, images and output color spaces. All plotted in 2D and 3D to illustrate color gamut.

    High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/ColorGamut.mov
    Low Res (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bxSD-Xx-Q

    OR if you want to read:

    http://www.adobe.com/digitalimag/pdfs/phscs2ip_colspace.pdf
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited August 13, 2013
    Will your customers be using a print lab that can handle anything other than the sRGB space? THAT IS THE PRIMARY QUESTION TO ASK. Odds are, the answer is NO. And in that case, export as sRGB.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,601 moderator
    edited August 13, 2013
    One can start by asking their printer what they recommend for fine art prints. If your printer requests Adobe RGB, or ProPhoto RGB then that is something worth considering.

    But the reality is most online print services want their image files in sRGB, as that is what the gamut of their printers will be set up to handle.
    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,326 moderator
    edited August 13, 2013
    I've been using Lightroom 5 and exporting my finished photos as "sRGB", but should I be using "ProPhoto RGB". From what I've been able to find out the "sRGB" is best for online viewing (which is great for my website), but is it best for printing (which is what I hope my customers do)?

    I can't find any information or forum discussions on the which setting is best. I've found plenty of threads talking about the smugmug plug-in for Lightroom, but I'm not interested in managing my uploads through Lightroom right now.

    Thanks in advance!

    www.afflatusphotography.com

    Since you mention SmugMug and customers:

    http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93362
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • Afflatus PhotographyAfflatus Photography Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 6 Big grins
    edited August 13, 2013
    ziggy53 wrote: »
    Since you mention SmugMug and customers:

    http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93362


    Thank you Ziggy53! I don't why I couldn't find that article. You must have the magic touch when it comes to searching for articles.

    Thanks again!
  • Afflatus PhotographyAfflatus Photography Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 6 Big grins
    edited August 13, 2013
    Thank you everyone for your replies. I've got a MUCH better understanding now of the differences between "sRGB" and "ProPhoto RGB" and what is expected by my printer.

    www.afflatusphotography.com
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    mercphoto wrote: »
    Will your customers be using a print lab that can handle anything other than the sRGB space? THAT IS THE PRIMARY QUESTION TO ASK. Odds are, the answer is NO. And in that case, export as sRGB.

    Virtually all printer output devices can exceed sRGB in some areas of color space. Further, there are no sRGB printers (sRGB is a synthetic color space, based on a very old CRT). The video I mention illustrates why sRGB is mostly inadequate in terms of color gamut if your goal is to use all the color info available to you in your original captured data.
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    mercphoto wrote: »
    But the reality is most online print services want their image files in sRGB, as that is what the gamut of their printers will be set up to handle.

    Their printer can handle a gamut that's nothing like sRGB. They don't demand sRGB because of anything other than their need to push images through their front end, without having to assume other color spaces or process them differently. IOW, the use of sRGB is to benefit their workflow, NOT YOURS. If they tell you otherwise, they are lying to you or just don't understand color management.
    Since you mention SmugMug and customers:

    http://help.smugmug.com/customer/portal/articles/93362

    There's so much wrong, technically in that article, I'd be hard pressed to recommend anyone who really wants to know the issues read it!
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    Their printer can handle a gamut that's nothing like sRGB. They don't demand sRGB because of anything other than their need to push images through their front end, without having to assume other color spaces or process them differently. IOW, the use of sRGB is to benefit their workflow, NOT YOURS. If they tell you otherwise, they are lying to you or just don't understand color management.
    That's irrelvant to my point though. If the vendor doesn't accept other color spaces (or worse, ignores the embedded color space and process everything as sRGB), they you are screwed, no matter the technical reasons. That's why I asked who are the guy's client and who will they be printing through? If he is selling files to ordinary people, such as wedding and portrait clients, and they are likely to go to Wal Mart or Shutterfly for prints, guess what happens if you don't deliver sRGB JPGs.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    mercphoto wrote: »
    That's irrelvant to my point though. If the vendor doesn't accept other color spaces (or worse, ignores the embedded color space and process everything as sRGB), they you are screwed, no matter the technical reasons. .

    It's only irrelevant if you don't really care about getting the highest quality output and you want to believe the technical nonsense such labs provide to force you to use sRGB. Their devices can accept a wider gamut space, that they don't want to provide that is telling about their services. IOW, this isn't a technology issue, they could accept a wider gamut working space that could use the wider gamut capabilities of their output device!
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    arodney wrote: »
    It's only irrelevant if you don't really care about getting the highest quality output and you want to believe the technical nonsense such labs provide to force you to use sRGB. Their devices can accept a wider gamut space, that they don't want to provide that is telling about their services. IOW, this isn't a technology issue, they could accept a wider gamut working space that could use the wider gamut capabilities of their output device!

    Sigh.... and, if I said, the client was a non-photographer normal Joe on the street, as I said... The original poster still hasn't mentioned who his customers are and what labs they are likely to use. Wal Mart? Shutterfly? McKenna Pro? Bay Photo? Without knowing this all technical discussions of color space gamut, the capabilities of modern printers and whether labs are evil and lazy or not is useless.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    mercphoto wrote: »
    Sigh.... and, if I said, the client was a non-photographer normal Joe on the street, as I said... The original poster still hasn't mentioned who his customers are and what labs they are likely to use. Wal Mart? Shutterfly? McKenna Pro? Bay Photo? Without knowing this all technical discussions of color space gamut, the capabilities of modern printers and whether labs are evil and lazy or not is useless.

    Go to Costco, inexpensive, all profiled, you can use the supplied ICC profiles for soft proofing and controlling the important aspects such as picking a rendering intent, soft proofing etc. IOW, you don't have to be Joe non photographer or you can be Joe non photographer and get excellent, high quality output without having someone restrict you to sRGB. That mindset has no justification to anyone outside the lab! They do it for their benefit, not yours or Joe's. Yes, the labs that force you to use sRGB are basically lazy. There is no justification for what they demand.
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    mercphoto wrote: »
    The original poster still hasn't mentioned who his customers are and what labs they are likely to use.

    Doesn't matter what or who his customers are, it matters how HE wants the final quality of his output to be. That's what makes a pro. They strive for the best possible quality, whether his customers recognize the differences or not. Any lab that demands sRGB is best defined as a non professional lab, meaning their desires are more about their ability to crank out as many prints as possible. Not the quality intent of the people paying for that output.

    The OP asked not about his/her clients but rather: I've been using Lightroom 5 and exporting my finished photos as "sRGB", but should I be using "ProPhoto RGB". From what I've been able to find out the "sRGB" is best for online viewing (which is great for my website), but is it best for printing (which is what I hope my customers do)?

    The answer is sRGB isn't the best working space for print output. It is for web output (at least while the vast majority of images are viewed on sRGB like devices). This isn't to say that sending sRGB to the printer will result in a poor print. But the output CAN be better sending a wider gamut depending on the image content. Why funnel your color into a working space that restricts your output? To make some lazy lab owner happy? I think not.
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • mercphotomercphoto Bill Jurasz Registered Users Posts: 4,550 Major grins
    edited August 16, 2013
    I just realized that I mis-read the original question. I for some reason thought the guy was selling files to his customers that he hoped they would print and yadda yadda.
    Bill Jurasz - Mercury Photography - Cedar Park, TX
    A former sports shooter
    Follow me at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bjurasz/
    My Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/shop/mercphoto?ref=hdr_shop_menu
  • Afflatus PhotographyAfflatus Photography Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 6 Big grins
    edited August 19, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I'm simply selling my photos through my Smugmug site. The article that Ziggy53 linked to says,

    "The printers in most commercial labs, such as WHCC (one of our labs), Bay Photo (one of our labs), Mpix, EZ Prints (yep, another lab of ours), Shutterfly (whom we used to use), Kodak, Fujifilm, Photobox, Costco, Snapfish, Wolfe's, etc., shine light on photographic paper, similar to the way film prints are made. They have similar color range to the sRGB color space. Most of them expect your file to be in sRGB and if it isn't, your prints will look washed out."

    I'm using Bay Photo as my lab, so according to that article about Smugmug's partnership with Bay Photo, I should be using sRGB or else my photos may look washed out. But, arodney seems to have issues with the technical information in that article. If Bay Photo is indeed caple of handling files printed in "ProPhoto RGB" (which I'll need to look into), then perhaps I should be outputing in that format.

    I am also selling the digital files, but I don't expect that the people who download it will be using a lab any more professional than Wal-Mart, Costco, Walgreens or even just posting to social media, so maybe "sRGB" will be fine for me overall.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,326 moderator
    edited August 20, 2013
    Hi guys,

    I'm simply selling my photos through my Smugmug site. The article that Ziggy53 linked to says,

    "The printers in most commercial labs, such as WHCC (one of our labs), Bay Photo (one of our labs), Mpix, EZ Prints (yep, another lab of ours), Shutterfly (whom we used to use), Kodak, Fujifilm, Photobox, Costco, Snapfish, Wolfe's, etc., shine light on photographic paper, similar to the way film prints are made. They have similar color range to the sRGB color space. Most of them expect your file to be in sRGB and if it isn't, your prints will look washed out."

    I'm using Bay Photo as my lab, so according to that article about Smugmug's partnership with Bay Photo, I should be using sRGB or else my photos may look washed out. But, arodney seems to have issues with the technical information in that article. If Bay Photo is indeed caple of handling files printed in "ProPhoto RGB" (which I'll need to look into), then perhaps I should be outputing in that format.

    I am also selling the digital files, but I don't expect that the people who download it will be using a lab any more professional than Wal-Mart, Costco, Walgreens or even just posting to social media, so maybe "sRGB" will be fine for me overall.

    I suspect that the agreement between SmugMug and their print partners is that SmugMug supplies sRGB to the print partner. I believe that SmugMug "does" convert other color spaces to sRGB because that is what most browsers support. In other words, since sRGB is globally accepted by browser technology, I believe that SmugMug chose sRGB for their workflow.

    If you work directly with a print service then you may be able to use a number of different file types as well as color spaces, but when you work through SmugMug then I believe that you are limited to sRGB throughput (after SmugMug does their automated conversion to sRBG if it's something else) and JPG seems the best file type (between JPG, GIF and PNG).

    Even if you deal with Bay Photo directly, if choose their Economy service (no color correction), then I believe that you will use their ROES system which only allows sRGB and Adobe RGB (1998) in a JPG file. (Make sure that the color space profile is embedded in the file.) Check with Bay Photo to be sure.

    http://www.bayphoto.com/bayweb/pro_colormanage.htm

    Edit: Just so we are clear, because I may not have been clear above, if you use SmugMug services to feed your files to one of their print partners, or if you sell files using SmugMug, I believe that you really should be using sRGB for the reasons outlined above and I recommend using and sending JPG files.

    If, however, you wish to set up an account directly with a print service, then you may have other options, which will vary by print service.
    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited August 21, 2013
    But, arodney seems to have issues with the technical information in that article. If Bay Photo is indeed caple of handling files printed in "ProPhoto RGB" (which I'll need to look into), then perhaps I should be outputing in that format.

    IF they allow it, yes. But I don't think they will.

    The article is technically wrong in a lot of information in terms of color management. Do we want to go there? If a lab demands sRGB, that's what you have to send them. Is that the ideal working space? No. Will you probably get good prints? Maybe. You should if you're dealing with a good lab and your files are good. The lack of good output isn't due to the forcing of sRGB on YOUR workflow. But you're not using the data you have from a raw capture that's rendered and encoded in a wider gamut space. And forget soft proofing if you are forced to send sRGB to someone to output.

    The video I posted shows quite clearly what you 'lose' by funneling your data into sRGB. If that's kind of important to you, find a lab that fully understands and supports color management. If you don't care about clipping colors, send sRGB.
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • Afflatus PhotographyAfflatus Photography Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 6 Big grins
    edited August 22, 2013
    Thanks again guys. Everything is making sense now. For the moment, I'm just selling through Smugmug, but in the future if i want to send directly to a lab then I'll check to see if they can handle formats other than sRGB.

    Very helpful info, you guys are awesome!
  • SamSam San Jose CA Registered Users Posts: 7,419 Major grins
    edited August 23, 2013
    Not to beat a dead horse........................but:

    Bay photo will accept srgb and / or Adobe rgb, but as previously stated not through SmugMug.

    I believe that when providing non photographer clients with files for personal printing the safest choice is srgb.

    While you will lose some quality depending on the image, most clients will never see the difference and the srgb color space eliminates many potential issues with trying to print using another color space with out having the knowledge to do so.

    I currently use Pro Photo color space for my working color space and only convert based on who, what, when, how used, output device, etc.

    Sam
  • miKalusmiKalus Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
    edited January 5, 2015
    Soft Proofing using .icc AND sRGB
    Hi there.
    I believe LR5 is hard coded to use ProPhotoRGB. Normally I export prints to tiff (or jpeg if desperate) using Adobe1998 as the embedded colorspace. I've just contacted a lab that prints on aluminum, and they sent me the .icm profile for their aluminum print media, but they asked me to make sure that all images sent were sRGB (not Adobe). I use .icc/.icm profiles for soft-proofing all the time, but I cannot seem to find a way to switch LR5 to use sRGB (along with the printer profile supplied at the same time) so that I can get a really good idea of what it would look like in print. Or does the supplied .icm profile automatically convert the color space to sRGB when used for softproofing?
    Any one know the best solution to this problem without going outside of LR5?
    Thank you for any help.

    miKalus
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited January 5, 2015
    Lightroom and ACR use ProPhoto RGB primaries which means it’s gamut (but a different TRC). Bottom line is, you’re using ProPhoto RGB gamut and it's rather pointless to convert to Adobe RGB (1998). Further, the profile this lab supplied is useless! You can't use it to convert the wide gamut data to the print output space. pointless for use in soft proofing too (you have no control over the rendering intent etc). This lab doesn't support Color Management properly so either find another or you're stuck sending sRGB to the output device while clipping color you could have in your original master that will clip those colors thanks to this silly sRGB workflow forced upon you.

    Everything you thought you wanted to know about color gamut

    A pretty exhaustive 37 minute video examining the color gamut of RGB working spaces, images and output color spaces. All plotted in 2D and 3D to illustrate color gamut.

    High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/ColorGamut.mov
    Low Res (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bxSD-Xx-Q
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • SamSam San Jose CA Registered Users Posts: 7,419 Major grins
    edited January 5, 2015
    arodney wrote: »
    Lightroom and ACR use ProPhoto RGB primaries which means it’s gamut (but a different TRC). Bottom line is, you’re using ProPhoto RGB gamut and it's rather pointless to convert to Adobe RGB (1998). Further, the profile this lab supplied is useless! You can't use it to convert the wide gamut data to the print output space. pointless for use in soft proofing too (you have no control over the rendering intent etc). This lab doesn't support Color Management properly so either find another or you're stuck sending sRGB to the output device while clipping color you could have in your original master that will clip those colors thanks to this silly sRGB workflow forced upon you.

    Everything you thought you wanted to know about color gamut

    A pretty exhaustive 37 minute video examining the color gamut of RGB working spaces, images and output color spaces. All plotted in 2D and 3D to illustrate color gamut.

    High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/ColorGamut.mov
    Low Res (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bxSD-Xx-Q

    This is fantastic. clap.gifclapclap.gifclapclap.gif

    I know I watched this before but this is information that will allow one to really analyze why a print color doesn't match your monitor.

    Note: Should be watched several times.

    Thanks for sharing this!!!!

    Sam
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited January 9, 2015
    Here's one more for you (about gamut) and why you probably want to be using ProPhoto RGB:

    The benefits of wide gamut working spaces on printed output:

    This three part, 32 minute video covers why a wide gamut RGB working space like ProPhoto RGB can produce superior quality output to print.

    Part 1 discusses how the supplied Gamut Test File was created and shows two prints output to an Epson 3880 using ProPhoto RGB and sRGB, how the deficiencies of sRGB gamut affects final output quality. Part 1 discusses what to look for on your own prints in terms of better color output. It also covers Photoshop’s Assign Profile command and how wide gamut spaces mishandled produce dull or over saturated colors due to user error.

    Part 2 goes into detail about how to print two versions of the properly converted Gamut Test File file in Photoshop using Photoshop’s Print command to correctly setup the test files for output. It covers the Convert to Profile command for preparing test files for output to a lab.

    Part 3 goes into color theory and illustrates why a wide gamut space produces not only move vibrant and saturated color but detail and color separation compared to a small gamut working space like sRGB.

    High Resolution Video: http://digitaldog.net/files/WideGamutPrintVideo.mov
    Low Resolution (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLlr7wpAZKs&feature=youtu.be
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
  • miKalusmiKalus Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 2 Beginner grinner
    edited January 11, 2015
    Online 'partner lab' printing
    arodney wrote: »
    Lightroom and ACR use ProPhoto RGB primaries which means it’s gamut (but a different TRC). Bottom line is, you’re using ProPhoto RGB gamut and it's rather pointless to convert to Adobe RGB (1998). Further, the profile this lab supplied is useless! You can't use it to convert the wide gamut data to the print output space. pointless for use in soft proofing too (you have no control over the rendering intent etc). This lab doesn't support Color Management properly so either find another or you're stuck sending sRGB to the output device while clipping color you could have in your original master that will clip those colors thanks to this silly sRGB workflow forced upon you.

    Everything you thought you wanted to know about color gamut

    A pretty exhaustive 37 minute video examining the color gamut of RGB working spaces, images and output color spaces. All plotted in 2D and 3D to illustrate color gamut.

    High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/ColorGamut.mov
    Low Res (YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bxSD-Xx-Q

    Thank you arodney.

    I'll take a look at these videos.
    Online 'partner' labs (eg; zenfolio) of portfolio sites seem to vary in their image submission requirements. eg; MPix Pro wants everything in sRGB and JPEG (no tiff's). They say the eye cannot tell the difference between JPEG and TIFF. So, unless you fulfill orders manually, selling online probably is not reliable using 'partner labs' to make selling 'easy'.
  • arodneyarodney Major grins Registered Users Posts: 2,005 Major grins
    edited January 11, 2015
    miKalus wrote: »
    Thank you arodney.
    Online 'partner' labs (eg; zenfolio) of portfolio sites seem to vary in their image submission requirements. eg; MPix Pro wants everything in sRGB and JPEG (no tiff's). They say the eye cannot tell the difference between JPEG and TIFF.

    Maybe on their devices with their kind of piss-poor color workflow. Watch the video, even download my test file and make your own prints (using proper color management). I see a HUGE difference!

    Keep in mind this 'just send sRGB' workflow isn't optimized for you, it's optimized for them. None of their devices are as small gamut wise as sRGB.
    Andrew Rodney
    Author "Color Management for Photographers"
    http://www.digitaldog.net/
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