The What and Why of Color Space

What is color space?

If you’ve browsed the Photo Shooting settings menu of your dslr, you’ve likely seen a setting for Color Space. Unless you have some super-special video camera, you’ll see two choices, sRGB, the factory default setting on most dslrs, and Adobe.

In my Nikons, the designation is visible in the file name. sRGB Color Space is saved as DSC_nnnn (the underscore in the middle) while Adobe Color Space is saved as _DSCnnnn (underscore at the beginning). unless, of course, you have changed the file name designation yourself.

(I did alter my file name settings so that the file names on my D3200 are DSC and my Z50’s file names are ZSC. My purpose for this is so that I can combine photos from both cameras into one folder and tell at a glance which camera they came from. File name makes no difference in editing processes.)

Why the Color Space you choose is important.

Most monitors and screens display only the spectrum of the sRGB color space. When you upload photos to the internet, no matter what color space you dialed in to your camera to make the photo, they are usually converted to the sRGB format.

Fine Art Prints do better with Adobe Color Space. You’ll get more shades and subtle hints of color in your printed work. Since I am more interested in printing my photos, I switched to Adobe when I saw the color chart above and learned details of the differences. As you can see, you get more greens and blues in the Adobe Color space.

One thing to watch out for is to make sure your editing software allows you to save your changes in the Adobe Color Space format! Otherwise, all your work will simply be output as sRGB Color Space format. I edit with GIMP which does save my Adobe Color Space setting on edited photos.

Here’s a 7.5 minute video with David Bergman of explaining the finer details of the choice between sRGB and Adobe.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *