To be perfectly honest, I’ve never been a blogging person. I’m trying to develop a vocabulary of topics to work with. Things in my mind revolve around food: the preparation, consumption, and sometimes disposal of it’s containers; photography, graphic design, architecture, and music.
Lately though, yesterday actually, I’ve been dealing a good bit with Color Space. There are 3 different types, sRGB, Adobe (1998)RGB, and ProPhoto RGB. Each expands a little in the amount of color it collects and reproduces. There is also the concern of “bit depth,” 8-16 bit.
sRGB – Standard RGB(Red, Green, Blue) The standard and most common color space. Default in most any camera on the market. This is also the standard that most consumer printers utilize.
Adobe (1998)RGB – Larger color footprint than sRGB but not necessarily better by any means. It is a larger area, but the same main colors. Since it covers a larger area it spreads the same colors over more space and allows for more “steps” in colors. That offers more “in between” colors, just like “essential gray,” and “french gray” and not just gray.
ProPhoto RGB – This is even larger in footprint, but still the same initial color values spread over a larger area with more steps in between.
This is a good graph displaying the different color areas of each color space.
This is a good depiction, if you read it right to left, of what happens to color when you step down in each color space from RAW to the Adobe standard to sRGB. The red region is where the color is being clipped or simplified to just one or fewer colors. Just an example of how much more you can get with a larger color space in a real application.
8 bit color depth – Each color value has 256 levels of color. so for red, is 256, green is 256, blue is 256 so then 256 times 256 times 256 equals 1.76 million. A lot of very nice colors.
16 bit color depth – Each color range has 65,536 colors in each channel. Red, Green and Blue would equal to 281 trillion colors. So needless to say, a lot more colors to play with.
So with all of this crap to take in where do we stand? sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB all in either 8 or 16 bit. It all plays on how you shoot. If you shoot in raw there is nothing to deal with in in bit depth, but you have options in color space. So when you shoot higher than sRGB then you get more colors captured. When you export from Lightroom or Aperture you can choose to export as 8 or 16 bit which gives it more color value cause it splits the existing color into more refined steps. So lets say you shoot in Adobe 1998 and export 16 bits. Well, you’re actually wasting a ton of colors. HA! you thought you were getting somewhere right? NOPE! Most modern printers can only support sRGB so the big beautiful image you’ve been editing and getting excited about looks less vibrant or “muddy” because the PRINTER decided what colors to get rid of when it compressed your color space back down to sRGB. Even though these tools are at our finger tips the rest of the world is not ready for it yet. To be perfectly honest, if you do shoot in Adobe, or even ProPhoto for that matter, and end up having to compress it back to sRGB, there is minimal or moderate change. Something that MIGHT be visible, but for most consumers not a huge concern. It can be adjusted for. Color space is something that is more and more of a problem for some people so it’s important to be aware of what’s taking place and, if need be, adjust for it. Now keep in mind this is all dealing with photography and printing images. If you shoot solely for web or video then it’s a whole different set of decisions which we might address later on. Until then, I hope this was information was helpful. Until next time!