AdobeRGB & ISO profiles incompatibility?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jonathan_mcgraw, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. I've been reading about printing w/ a Canon Pixma Pro100 printer, (which I have) and & Lightroom (which I have). I have a Nikon D7000 several good AiS, Ds &1 E lenses (& I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on a D810 or D850. Can't decide if the 850 is worth a $1K more. And also to buy an X-Rite color calibration system)
    Of course as you know, Nikons shoots in sRGB or aRGB. From what I've read, I chose to shoot in aRGB & use Lightroom because it seems to me to be the closest to printing w/ Type C. (Which I was very good at) Everything I have read about X-Rite & color paper profiles says that they are calibrated in ISO profiles. I have a fairly new Windows 10 unit w/ fast main chip, a powerful video card, & oodles of memory, so the added size of aRGB is not a problem. My understanding is that ISO profiles are not compatible w/ aRGB. Is my shooting w/ aRGB in vain? I have a great deal of ignorance about digital shooting, although I was a skilled Film photographer both B&W & Type C all the way to final print. I know no one can clear up all my ignorance by posting in this thread alone. I have several Scott Kelby books, but when I read them so many of the terms make no sense. I feel like I'm lost in a maze. So I'm asking to point me in a direction. Please help me. Where to start & a path to follow, although I am asking for a direct answer about my concern about AdobeRGB & ISO profiles.
    Thank you very much, Jonathan
  2. Hi, understanding (as opposed to simply using) this color management stuff is a tough hill to climb without some certain fundamental knowledge. I really don't know what sources to steer you to. But if you'd like, I can explain a bit such that your current books will make some sense. Maybe. But I'll give it a try if you wanted to name a few of your points of confusion.

    Regarding ISO, I had no idea that color profiles were in ISO standards. But I cannot imagine that the ISO would make standards that would be incompatible with the current industry standards, which use ICC color profiles. So I would start out by presuming "ISO profiles" are perfectly compatibility with the standard photographic color profiles. My guess is that the ISO saw a need, perhaps for some regulatory situation, to lock down a specification for some version of ICC profiles. But they're probably careful not to cause an incompatibility.

    I've made hundreds and hundreds of printer profiles, used in high-volume pro setups, most made with an Xrite pro package. Never any compatibility issues with any standard color management systems. Nor with any factory-supplied printer profiles.

    Have you made any prints with your Pro100 printer yet? I would imagine that it came with high quality ICC profiles for their standard ink/paper sets, so you probably don't have a real need to make profiles for that. The standard printing routine is that you have an ICC "input profile" assigned to your image. (If you shot in either sRGB or AdobeRGB then these are probably "tagged" automatically, and you may not even know it is happening.) When the printer is selected for printing, you want to make sure that you have selected the right ICC profile. There can be some fine details related to this, but fundamentally you should be able to make high quality prints like this.

    The only thing that you're probably missing is a good monitor profile, and this is pretty the main thing that you want to make. But a lot of people seem to get by without making one; if you don't like the print you can always make adjustments to the image file then print again. I would say, though, if you do this professionally then you probably don't want to waste the time fooling around.
  3. RAW (NEF) files have a native colour space of their own, which is (hopefully) larger than either sRGB or AdobeRGB. They're converted to sRGB or AdobeRGB only when they're opened for display or processing. The profile chosen in camera is used by default, since it's attached to the RAW file as a tag. However RAW files can be rendered as either profile without loss, unlike JPEGs. So if you shoot in RAW, and there's no reason not too, the issue of which colour space to choose is entirely moot.

    The advantage of AdobeRGB is probably exaggerated for most everyday scenes anyway. The major difference is that the green primary of ARGB is shifted and slightly more saturated. The red and blue primaries are the same for both spaces. AdobeRGB uses a true gamma of 2.2, whereas sRGB has a, frankly weird, linear region in the toe for purely mathematical reasons that make no practical sense. I'm not entirely convinced that NikonRGB rigidly follows the needless wobbly gamma set out in the sRGB standard.

    Anyhow. In brief, if you shoot RAW you can always change your mind about the colour space if it causes printing issues.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  4. The color space assigned to the file, including sRGB and AdobeRGB (not aRGB), defines which RGB tones each byte in the file represents. AdobeRGB defines a wider range of colors than sRGB, but does not increase the file size, only what it means. Color-managed software recognizes the embedded color space and displays and prints the image appropriately. Furthermore, others with color-managed systems will see and print your images the same as you.

    Profiles are essentially multi-dimensional correction factors so that the file will be displayed or printed accurately. They are applied by software between the file and the output device. In other words, color space, monitor profiles and print profiles are independent variables.

    Martin Evening has written several books regarding Photoshop and Lightroom which explain color management in detail. The process of calibration is probably better explained by the companies making that equipment.
    bgelfand likes this.
  5. @digitaldog will likely chime in, as he's an expert on the matter. I also have a PRO-100 printer and use Red River paper. They provide pretty decent profiles for the paper. The way I go about this is probably crude, but it works for me. First, using the right profile for the printer and paper, online reference/test images should print perfectly. If they don't, something is wrong that needs to be fixed. Profile, inks, paper or whatever. For me, the printer has to be the reference. After that I just tweak the monitor so it represents the print, more or less. I've never found a monitor is visually equal to a print, being two different mechanisms, nor can I control the illumination around the monitor like you're supposed to. sRGB isn't nearly as flawed as some think, and most of my images fit in that color space just fine. You might investigate pRGB, being smaller than Prophoto, but matching the capabilities of inkjets quite well. Nothing wrong with Adobe either.
  6. When printing with a print profile from Photoshop or Lightroom (for example), you must make sure color correction in print driver itself is turned off, and that the host program is responsible for color, with the correct profile selected. Each printer model and paper brand and and grade should have a unique profile. The best profiles are provided by the paper manufacturer, a program like ImagePrint, or custom profiles either purchased or created with profiling tools.

    I agree that final images in sRGB can make excellent prints. Images also look better on non-managed computers than a wider space, which often looks rather flat and lifeless. There are demonstrable exceptions when using printers with a color space larger than sRGB, but only at extremes of the range. You should also start a master using a wider color space like ProFoto or AdobeRGB before grading the image for presentation.
  7. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    I don't know where to start after the others but there's a lot of confusion in your questions.
    First, your camera(s) produce raw data and you can render (process) and encode (convert) into any color space the raw processor supports.
    The profiles have nothing to do with ISO.
    The camera can produce a rendered JPEG from the raw in (usually) one of two RGB working spaces: Adobe RGB (1998) or sRGB. The differences are the size of the color gamut (range of colors). IF you shoot raw, the settings play no role in how the raw is produced. The settings only affect the Histogram which doesn't represent the raw data, and the clipping overlays which again have no representation of the raw data. Only Exposure and ISO affect the raw (and ISO isn't exposure but an attribute to set an exposure).
    I can't agree with the recommendations you look over CambridgeInColour, there's a lot of misinformation there on a technical level.
    One of the color geeks over on Luminous Landscape's color management forum had a comment about the above and after reading it, I was on the floor laughing:
    What exactly does 'Simulate paper white' do?
    I wonder how many people reading that link realize the image they incorrectly tout as the "Profile Connection Space" is actually the human gamut CIEuv chromaticity graph? Might as well have a cat picture.
    Martin's Evenings books are excellent!
    You're presumably making prints. You want to have all the color (and tone) available from a capture to make that print. As such, neither sRGB nor Adobe RGB (1998) are ideal candidates for some captures for output to print. Stick with raw, render into the largest gamut color space you can, in high bit for output to print. Explained here:

    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:
    Low Resolution (YouTube):
  8. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    NOT when the display is wide gamut of which now, there are LOTS. Adobe RGB (1998) looks much better and sRGB looks awful on a wide gamut display without color management. The lesson for the OP (if not others): IF you care about color appearance, you work with color managed applications. No matter the the gamut of a display. No matter the color space of the image. Non-color managed "computers" (you actually mean applications) have absolutely no idea what sRGB is (or any other RGB color space) and have no idea how to properly preview images. If you care about color appearance, you calibrate and profile your display and work with color managed applications on a computer that only understands 1s and zero's. Color management is number management to affect proper color appearance. Then any color space that is defined will preview 'correctly'.
  9. Thank you Nick

    Well there ya go-I am ignorant like I said. Actually that question crossed my mind after I posted.
  10. I used "computers" in a generic sense. Of course it is software, but such a wide gamut of software from browsers to editing software to calibration, that it's pointless to try to list everything. Perhaps a "Color Managed System" would be more accurate and inclusive.
  11. Actually there is an ISO standard on this, which I was a bit surprised to find. I had already looked at it when I made my comments above.

    from - ISO 15076-1:2010

    The ISO standard is said to have been prepared by the ICC in cooperation with a pair of ISO tech committees per an earlier cooperative agreement. As I suggested above, my guess is that the ISO had their reasons for locking in some version of ICC profiling as a standard.
  12. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    No reason to complicate this: software is either color managed or it isn't.
  13. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    ICC profiles greatly predate anything above by a decade or more: Photoshop introduced ICC color in 1997.
  14. That's irrelevant to what I posted. It is correct to say that one uses color profiles, etc., which are compliant with (current) ISO standard such and such.

    As a long-time IS&T member (formerly SPSE) who attended some of their early Color Conferences, I have some familiarity with the history of ICC color management.
  15. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    It's relevant in that what you reported has nothing to do with ICC color management in Adobe products that massively predates that PDF. As a long time member of the ICC and a beta for Adobe since 1994 I have some familiarity as well.
    Standard, ISO 15076-1, was introduced in 2005 and revised in 2010. Way after ICC profiles were in common use in many applications. IOW, meaningless.
  16. You are correct in that what I reported had nothing to do with Adobe's history in massively predating the current ISO standard.

    In my view, your bringing up this history is irrelevant to what I pointed out, that there is a current ISO standard for for ICC profiles and their usage.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  17. Jonathan,

    The responses above include a lot of what you need to know, but given that you are new to this, I will wager that you find this discussion more confusing than helpful. So, let me try to pare things down, at the risk of repeating in a different form a few things already mentioned.

    1. If you want to preserve as much color detail and editing flexibility as possible, shoot in raw. That will give you a wider gamut (a wider range of colors) than either Adobe RGB or sRGB.

    2. Good printers (and in terms of gamut, the Pro 100 is a very good printer) can print colors that are outside of the sRBG gamut and some that are outside of Adobe RGB.

    3. If you take JPEGs, then the colors outside of whichever gamut you pick are simply gone. If you shoot raw, it makes absolutely no difference whether you set the camera to Adobe RGB or sRGB.The data outside those gamuts is still present, and Lightroom will ignore the setting you choose.

    4. Lightroom's internal working color space is "Melissa," a variant of the Prophoto color space, which is larger than the other two. Unfortunately, if you shoot JPEG, this doesn't help you much, other than giving you a little more flexibility in editing. If you shoot raw, it preserves more of the color data.

    5. If you want your display to look similar to the final print, you have to calibrate the monitor.

    6. The gamut produced by the printer is a function not only of the printer, but also of the paper you use. That's what you need ICC profiles for. All of the major paper vendors I have used provide ICC profiles for the Pro 100. they also provide instructions about the paper setting you should use.

    7. LR allows you to soft proof, that is, to see approximately what a print will look like with that printer and a given paper, if you have loaded the ICC into Windows. I don't think it is terribly accurate, but it can help.

    8. If you are printing in color from Lightroom, you have to tell the software that it should control color, not the printer. This requires two steps with your printer. First, in the lightroom print module, down at the lower right, you will see "color Management." The first entry in that box is "profile". Change this from "managed by printer" top the profile for your paper. (Note: when you load the ICC into windows, it will show up here, but you have to check a tick box to tell LR to consider this an active profile.) Then, when you to to the page setup (left bottom) or print (right bottom) dialog, go to properties. This is where you set the paper type, the paper size, etc. Go to the second tab and you will find a section labeled "color matching". Set this to "none." This tells the printers firmware that it is not supposed to manage color.

    It's worth the time getting familiar with all of this. That printer is capable of stunning results. Since it uses dye-based inks, the prints aren't archival, but they are very good. I have printed quite a bit with one of them, and the results are very hard to distinguish from the prints I produce with a $1300 printer.
  18. The issue I have with ISO standards is that you have to pay an extortionate 40 Swiss Francs or so to actually read the darn things!
    This schoolboy 'no copying it's mine' attitude is entirely misplaced in an organisation that should exist for the free dissemination of standards information. Not as a source of revenue.

    It seems to me that the ISO muscling in on ICC territory is simply so that they can charge another 40CHF for every scrap of scant information.

    Rant over.

    I entirely agree that your monitor and its calibration are key to getting good print quality. While it's not possible to entirely simulate the CMYK gamut on an affordable RGB display, the closer you can get, the better. You can't edit what you can't see!
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
    michael_levy|3 likes this.
  19. Look at the kinds of images you shoot before agonizing over the size of the color space you choose. I live in an often-dreary place and rarely do my shots have bright saturated colors. I do a lot of product photography and most of those objects have little color. Thus, sRGB covers almost everything I do. Heck, the benefits of RAW files are even dubious for what I do. It took me a while to accept that, in spite of everybody talking about a maximum performance workflow, my needs are more modest. Now, that said, if your shots can take advantage of a larger space, definitely use it. I also suspect that if you go with a large color space, it's highly desirable to stay with 16-bit data for as long as you can- Windows printer drivers are, I believe, 8-bit. (Somebody tell me if that isn't true!)

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