Video – Lightroom, Photoshop, and Color Spaces

Hi folks! Getting ready for a long 4th of July weekend here and I thought I’d leave you with a video for the long weekend. There’s always lots of questions around color spaces and color profiles in Lightroom and how they relate to what we do in Photoshop. So I thought I’d cover some of the general best practices when moving your photos between Lightroom and Photoshop. Obviously, there’s a few choices – ProPhoto RGB, Adobe RGB (1998), or sRGB. Luckily, there’s pretty much 2 main options to choose and I’ll cover when to use each one in the video. Oh yeah, make sure you leave any comments if you know of any good articles or websites on the topic. Take care!

Click here to watch the video. (17MB)

Author: Matt Kloskowski

Matt is the full-time Director of Education for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He's the Editor-in-Chief of Lightroom Magazine, the lead instructor on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom LIVE Seminar Tour and author of several best-selling Photoshop books. Matt also hosts the world's top Lightroom blog, LightroomKillerTips.com, where he's built up a massive library of Lightroom videos, presets and tips. In addition to teaching Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world, he's an instructor at Photoshop World and one of the full-time staff writers for Photoshop User Magazine.

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26 Comments

  1. Matt, Thanks for the great video on color space! I still have one question. I’m using a service for my website and online printing (Smug Mug). In this article on sRGB vs. Adobe RGB (1998) (http://www.smugmug.com/help/srgb-versus-adobe-rgb-1998), SmugMug recommends that I shoot completely in sRGB from start to finish. With your encouraging to shoot in Adobe RGB (1998) I am slightly confused and wonder if you could help me out in this area. Also, in the SmugMug article, they say that if I shoot in Adobe 98 and then convert to sRGB for the web, then I will lose the benefits of both color spaces when I’m converting. I need HELP! Thanks.

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  2. Super Matt. I was hoping you’d do one about this. I’ve had to learn about color spaces the hard way. I got some good tips from this.

    I’m shooting Raw, and personally I always export in SRGB for my final JPEGS so I don’t have to mess with problem when loading to web etc. I don’t worry about it when opening to edit in PS.

    I know that Adobe’s profile are supposed to be better, and have a wider gaumet, but I just can’t seem much difference. My best comfort is knowing that I always have that RAW file to go back to.

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  3. Is the photo in the video an Italian street? It looks like (I am Italian so I’m curious).

    For the profiles, I unfortunately don’t agree with you; I shoot always in Raw, then I work the shots 90% in Lightroom. For the remaining shots that I want to retouch in Photoshop, I convert them in Tiff, 16bit, AdobeRGB. I have AdobeRGB in my color settings in PS.

    Yes, ProPhoto has a wider gamut, but there’s currently no device in the world able to completely represent it, so a conversion is always needed. The problem is that means you’re loosing something during that conversion. You could argue that “one day” there will could exist a device capable of rendering a ProPhoto profiled image, but for that day we all have the non-profiled Raws (Dngs actually).

    I’ve learned not to use ProPhoto from the colour expert Ray Maxwell interviewed by Luminous Landscape owner Michael Reichman on LLVJ 17 (did you see that? very enlightening!).

    Finally, I only use sRGB for the images I want to export for the web.

    Thanks for your work.

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  4. Matt, I see that you use ProPhoto in Lightroom but why don’t you use it in Photoshop. I do most of my work in Photoshop and us Adobe RGB 1998. Should I change to ProPhoto in Photoshop for all of the reasons that you give for using it in Lightroom?
    Thanks for all of your help!

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  5. Great tutorial, as usual. Thanks Matt. Another surprise was to see a picture of Bruges (Belgium), the place I’m currently living in !! Looks like Bruges is quite popular :)

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  6. Matt says “Adobe RGB – generally that is what photographers have Photoshop set up to be”. I’m not sure this is true, or at least I don’t believe it’s the best option in PS for all the reasons that Matt justifies using ProPhoto in Lightroom.

    I suggest using ProPhoto in Photoshop as well as Lightroom because (as Matt says) it gives you more choices in the future and a bigger gamut to work with in the present.

    The considered experts like Jeff Schewe, Martin Evening and Bruce Fraser think you should be working in ProPhoto (and that includes Photoshop) – see http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/prophoto-rgb.shtml

    Ian Lyons from http://www.computer-darkroom.com also uses Prophoto. He says “ProPhoto RGB has been my preferred working space for a few years now. It’s actually a very wide color space that encompasses the entire range of colors that your likely to encounter. For this reason it’s now generally regarded as the optimum color space when your output is destined for dye-sub, inkjet photo printers or Hi-fi color.”

    So Ronnie (above) – I think the answer is yes.

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  7. Hey everyone,
    Gavin – I totally agree. Thank god for raw.
    Jan – It was beautiful there. You could walk around for days and still find new things to photograph.
    Ronnie and Martin – OK, here’s the deal. I didn’t say that Adobe RGB is what you “should” have Photoshop set at, I said it’s what the majority of photographers do have it set to and I absolutely believe that to be true. I teach a lot of folks throughout the year and I rarely find anyone using Prophoto RGB in Photoshop. Think about it this way. The number of photographers that use Lighroom is a small percentage of the number of photographers out there. And the number of Lightroom users that even know what Prophoto RGB is, is even smaller. Traditionally, it’s been recommended that folks use Adobe RGB as the working color space in Photoshop and that is what I’d guess the majority of Photoshop users have it set to. For me, I leave it set to Adobe RGB because I’m still working with lots of non-lightroom/raw images as well. I’m ok with Photoshop staying in Adobe RGB for those and have it preserve the embedded ProPhoto RGB profile for my Lightroom work.

    Thanks for the comments! Have a great 4th!

    Matt K

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  8. Matt… Next time you visit Bruges, you have two photographers to visit: Jan and me!…Would be an honour to meet you in person! :)

    Best wishes (from Bruges, Flanders)…

    Patrick DS

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  9. I would be really interested to see a follow up video on colour profiles for printing or use of images on the web. Thanks so much for this site – I have learnt so much from the information you provide.

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  10. Matt……unfortunately there is no closed/open caption option nor a script that accompany with your video clip. Myself, being deaf…not able to understand anything. Am sure the same thing goes for other deaf readers of yours. I have several of your outstanding books….if you can also post written script of what is being stated in your video clip. That would be of much help or at least add the option of captioning your video clips. Same thing goes for all of Kelby Training video clips too.

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  11. Nice tutorial again Matt. Good you cleared up the idea on ProPhoto.
    One somewhat unrelated question though… do you use ScreenFlow for recording your tutorials?

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  12. Thank you Matt this has been a great help. I wonder could you perhaps expand on this and cover saving images for the web. I know the color profiles for this application can be quite confusing (and still cause me problems from time to time).

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  13. Matt,

    Thanks for another great vide. I’m sure it shed some light on what is undoubtedly a confusing topic for many. After seeing the video I came straight here to comment on it but found that I would only be echoing the thought of Martin and others. I found this video very timely after having just heard a provocative interview with JP Caponigro and Vincent Versace on IDP Rado Podcasts. I thought perhaps those who might want a more indepth discussion on the topic might find that episode valuable. I interested, it can be found here: http://www.insidedigitalphoto.com/2008/07/

    Thanks again for all the great work you do here and elsewhere. The amount of quality information that you disseminate for free is astounding and speaks volumes about your character.

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  14. Anybody tell me why (and I have asked around but nobody knows what must be a simple answer) I cannot open in Photoshop. I run Lightroom 1.4 and and CS3 on the same hard drive (in the same Adobe folder) and I cannot “export” and have Photoshop appear as an option to open “after Export”. Likewise if I choose Photo > Edit in Photoshop is grayed out as not being an option. Lightroom does not “see” CS3 on my XP machine.
    Sorry, I know there are forums for this but it was part of this topic and nobody in forums can give me the answer.
    Thanks

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  15. Hi Matt.
    I see great comments here.
    I am a Photographer in Fort Lauderdale – Miami area, and I noticed that The color of my pictures in LightRoom are different than the color of them on my Photoshop.
    Unfortunately, I couldn’t opend your video (I don’t know the reason)
    Thanks
    Paulo

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  16. Matt,

    What a wonderful site. I just had a friend send me this link and am starting to explore all the wonderful info.Of course I started w/ this tut. I noticed you exported in 8 bit instead of 16 bit and I am wondering why. My understanding is that you are then loosing some with the photo conversion.

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  17. Hi there!
    I have a question that has nothing to do with color spaces but I really didn’t know here else to ask this question…
    Basically I’m interested in the DNG format, after seeing you talk about it in Photoshop User TV I converted my RAW pictures to DNG but did not erase the originals and after comparing file sizes I saw that some of the DNG files are half the size (in Mb) compared to the originals! (I converted using the option compressed (lossless) option from Lightroom)

    Does this size decrease mean that I’m losing image quality? or control over the recovery of shadows and/or highlights? I need to know if there is any compromise between the quality and the file sizes.

    Thank you for your time

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  18. Patrick – Thanks. I will!

    Amit – Nope. Don’t use Screenflow yet. I’ve been happy with ishowu

    Saundra – I only export to 16-bit if I have a large exposure or color correction I need to make where that extra loss of info actually makes a difference. Otherwise, for simple retouching all 16 bit does for me is give me twice the file size and a slower Photoshop.

    Daniel – Nope. No loss of quality happening.

    Thanks all.
    Matt K

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  19. Great stuff as usual. How about a preset for “That 70’s Look”? One which mimcs old 70’s film look. That would be great!

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  20. Matt. Like some commenters here, I have had a few issues with Adobe RGB 1998 vs sRGB. Especially with the way certain browsers handle the images exported with those. I use Flickr and once I got hooked with Lightroom I started exporting my RAW images to JPEG for web using Adobe RGB 1998. All was well until I started to heavily use Safari for web browsing, and noticed my images would lose saturation once exported and uploaded to Flickr. At first I thought it was a Flickr processing byproduct by further investigation and some forum questioning led to the answer and the cause being the profile in use for exporting to JPG. Once I started using sRGB my images looked just as colorful on any browser as they did inside Lightroom. I know different profiles will be used for different purposes, but to keep the most compatibility on the web, across the main browsers at least, sRGB offered the best results.

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  21. Hi Matt, thanks for this enlightening piece. It seems color spaces are complex enough to allow for some controversy!

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  22. Hi Matt-
    Thanks for the info. I love your site!
    Question: if I am shooting in RAW and doing the majority of my post-process in Lightroom, which color profile should my camera be set to? I assume the same profile should also be assigned at the time of export from Lightoom? I need to optimize my JPEG files for print (I shoot mostly portraits), but also need my images to look good on my website. I keep hearing mixed reviews between AdobeRGB and sRGB. Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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  23. Great video on color spaces I just think it could have used a few minutes more to discuss what color space to use when outputting the finished file. Adobe1998 or prophoto are best used on high end ink jet printers. However, when outputting to the web or to a traditional photo lab which will be printing on light based printers, such like the fuji frontier, which is what most online print houses use, it is best to output the finished file to sRGB. Otherwise, you either get a significant color shift or you must submit your photo, and all the work you put into it, to the will of the lab tech. This is why mpex, whcc, and any other number of online print houses tell you to submit sRGB files.

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  24. Hi Matt,

    You mention that you and others could see some “quality” differences in, I assume< prints between the two color spaces. But you do not define at all what those “quality” differences were. What are you and others seeing?

    Thanks,

    Scott

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  25. Ok, marco,
    but what space do you use when export for PRINTING? You didn’t talk about that. I’ve seen that professional printers operators ask people to ship photos in sRGB. So the question is: does it worth using a larger color space?

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