Adobe RGB and sRGB
Adobe RGB (1998) is an industry standard file format that includes 8 bits per channel. It is supported by most graphics editing software, printers and displays. The file can contain colors from 0–100% of the Adobe RGB color space (see below), however, most monitors cannot display these values correctly. Instead, they are usually displayed using a sRGB color space.
The problem is that sRGB colors look far different from Adobe RGB colors. For example, sRGB red has a value of between 0.000 and 0.500, whereas Adobe RGB red has a value between 0.250 and 0.843. This means that a picture shot on a digital camera can look completely different on a computer monitor.
Why is this important?
For one thing, it affects the way colors appear on the Web. When images are posted on social networks, the images are saved using a standard, called JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group). It contains a number of limitations, including that it only supports 16 bits of color information (16-bit image). This means that a typical image file can only store a maximum of 65536 different colors. Since the Web uses a standard color space (known as sRGB), there is a huge risk that colors will not match. To avoid this, web designers use a special version of the sRGB color space, called Adobe RGB.
The main difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB is that Adobe RGB includes a wider range of colors, including the red range between 0.000 and 0.500. This is because it includes all the colors from the Adobe RGB color space, but reduces the number of colors to a limit of 65536.
Why does this affect photos taken with a digital camera?
The camera takes a photo in a format known as RAW. This stores the full 24 bits of color information, which means that it can store any possible color from 0–100%. When a photo is transferred to a computer, the computer will convert the RAW file to a standard format. The most common format is JPEG, which only stores 16-bit information, meaning that a JPEG image can only contain 65536 colors.
As explained above, the sRGB color space will only include red colors between 0.000 and 0.500. Therefore, when a photo is converted to sRGB, the image will only include red colors from 0.000 to 0.500. Since Adobe RGB includes a wider red range, it will include all red colors between 0.000 and 0.843, so the image will look far more vivid.
Can I tell which photo has been taken in Adobe RGB?
There are three ways to find out. First, you can check the EXIF data embedded in the photo. This data will be in the metadata of the photo. It will contain the camera settings, such as the resolution and the amount of color information the camera uses. You can also use software such as Exif Viewer, which will show you the color information of the photo. If the image has been taken with a digital camera, the most likely place to see the Adobe RGB setting is on the Picture Style page of the camera.
sRGB vs Adobe RGB: How to Choose?
The most common question I receive is how to choose between sRGB and Adobe RGB. So here’s a short guide to help you choose the right one.
sRGB is a standard color space developed for use on web and print devices such as monitors, printers and inkjet cartridges. Adobe RGB was first used for professional grade printers and it was later made available to consumers with new printing products like the Epson R2880 printer.
If you have a Mac, both RGB and CMYK colorspaces are available. However, for most users and designers, there are very little differences between the two color spaces.
Adobe RGB is not intended to replace sRGB, but rather it is an alternative color space for printing and archiving documents.
The biggest difference is that the Adobe RGB color space has a larger gamut than the sRGB color space. If you’re designing a logo, brochure or other product using a vector graphics program like InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator, the color choices you make in these programs are limited to the range of colors your printer can reproduce. However, in Photoshop or Illustrator, you can choose a wider range of colors than what the printer can reproduce, and this extra color space can come in handy if you need to create a logo or brochure that looks great on screen, but can be printed with more vibrant colors.
A good tool to determine what kind of color space your printer supports is the Pantone Color Converter tool.