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What you NEED to Know About Color Space …

Thankfully the answer is: very little!

Color Space gamut map
Gamut map of various color spaces

Just the other week, a client bought a new camera and came to us with a question about color space. They had read a few articles on the internet about the difference between ProPhoto, AdobeRGB and sRGB. Thinking more was better, they set their camera for ProPhoto. But, got confused when it came to changing settings on their computer.

This simple answer is, if you’re shooting raw, it doesn’t matter what the color space setting is on your camera. Color space only comes into play when you’re ready to export your images on your computer.

When setting color space on a camera body, what’s not obvious is that this refers only to JPG images. If you’re shooting raw images, the camera body doesn’t do any work to process the image. When a camera body is shooting JPG, the camera will crunch the raw data, apply any artistic styles (sometimes called scenes or picture control or styles) as well as setting the color space. If you do happen to shoot JPG then your best bet will be to set for sRGB.

Exporting a Color Space in Lightroom

On the software side, Lightroom (and most other top end programs), manage color space internally. So, you don’t have to worry about anything. Only when it comes to exporting images out of Lightroom does it matter which color space to choose.

Export dialog box in Lightroom Classic
Choose sRGB as the default export Color Space in Lightroom

For exporting, the default choice should always be sRGB. This is the most widely used and safest choice, especially if the photos are going to be only used digitally (web pages, social media etc.).

Only if you are printing photos with a high end printing service OR working with some other professional organization will you need to worry about your choice. More than likely it will be AdobeRGB for printing.  Rarely would you ever use ProPhotoRGB.

For a more detailed discussions about color space, here are a few other sites with good information:

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