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Color Space, Adobe RGB, sRGB...

Updated: Dec 2, 2022


Color spaces are limited color areas which designed to show similar colors on different output devices like cameras, printers, monitors. It is defined with different color profiles such as sRGB, AdobeRGB etc.


Adobe RGB


aRGB is a wide color space developed by Adobe in 1998, including the unique color spaces (CMYK) of printers, with the aim of getting richer colors in the printouts. The aRGB we use in digital is ideal with its rich color tones, but it's a problematic color space if you don't know what you're doing due to its high file sizes and complex workflow.


The Adobe RGB spectrum is the area inside the triangle seen below and is one of the widest color profiles.



We call it problematic. First one is the file sizes. This may force many personal computers and storage devices.

While we are working with terabytes and 8-16-32-64 core processors, fastest M2 NVME devices, we can put away that problem but the second one is more important.

Although you work in the Adobe RGB spectrum, today many devices, softwares, games, browsers use the sRGB area as standard. If you can't convert properly, the image you upload to the internet, print on a printer, or view on chrome will look dull as you didn't expect. This is because each system tries to convert aRGB to sRGB in its own way. Moreover, most of today's monitors, forget about Adobe Space, they simply cannot even display the entire sRGB area. That's 97% sRGB etc in monitor specs is indicated as.



sRGB


While we were describing Adobe RGB, we also explained sRGB to a large extent.


sRGB (Standard Red Green Blue) is a color space developed by HP and Microsoft in 1996 for monitors, printers, and the internet. It has now become a standard in almost every device and medium. Every picture, video etc you see on the internet is in the sRGB color space. sRGB has a narrower color space than Adobe RGB and comes with duller colors in exchange for lower file sizes.


sRGB (Standard Red Green Blue) HP ve Microsoft tarafından 1996 yılında monitörler, yazıcılar, internet için geliştirilmiş bir renk alanıdır. Şimdilerde neredeyse her cihaz ve ortamda standart hale gelmiştir. İnternette gördüğünüz her resim, video vs sRGB renk alanındadır. sRGB, Adobe RGB'den daha dar bir renk uzayına sahiptir ve daha düşük dosya boyutları karşılığında daha donuk renklerle gelir. Don't be fooled by what we call dull, sRGB uses a color transfer method called non-linear Gamma (which will be discussed in the next article) to correct this dullness and make the picture match what people see, which restricts color space flexibility and distorts some numerical proportions which is very problematic for digital content producers, 3d, compositing, video editing artists etc. To overcome this problem, linear workflow steps forward.


In the picture you can compare the color space covered by the profiles.



Prophoto RGB


A relatively new profile developed by Kodak, also known as ROMM RGB. It has a wider color space than Adobe RGB, even wider than wide-gamut aRGB.



As seen in the picture, It covers 90% of the standard CIE visible light space. It also extends to a 13% range which is not visible-non exist area.


Adobe lists the most suitable color spaces by industry as follows:


- SDTV NTSC, SDTV PAL - Standart Definition was ideal for TV broadcasts, which is now almost obsolete.


- HDTV (Rec. 709) - A wider color space than sRGB, ideal for High Definition TV broadcasts. It is an ideal workspace for many different works.


- ProPhoto RGB - Ideal for digital cinema works with linear grading (Gamma 1.0). It is supported by modern digital cinema cameras. (Expensive cameras)


- sRGB IEC61966-2.1 - Ideal for web viewing. It's standard now since most monitors supports only the sRGB area.



There is a ratio between the Color Depth we use and the Color Space that we should pay attention to.

Point is that even if we use aRGB, sRGB, Prophoto RGB, if we are working at 8 bpc, we will get a maximum of 16.7 million colors.

While the color space get wider, distance between shades will also get wider. If we try to squeeze those shades into a lower bpc, we will have a problem called banding.



We can see color banding in picture. Cause for this is the as we mentioned above, squeezing wider color space to narrow one like sRGB. If the photo had been taken in sRGB profile, the banding would probably have disappeared. We can also eliminate the problem by using high bpc which is what we want.


In our next article, we will try to explain Gamma and Linear Workflow as much as we can.


Stay safe.

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