Color gamut and printing woes

Discussion in 'Color' started by winginkris, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. winginkris

    winginkris SC Veteran

    315
    Dec 15, 2011
    Been reading a lot about printing as I've been asked to do some work for a hotel that wants to use several of my prints to decorate their rooms and lobby. The prints will sent out to AdoramaPix as I've had good luck with them in the past. Here's my problem. It seems the more I read, the more I feel I've had my camera settings, monitor and Aperture print settings all wrong. Here's a list of things that I hope I can get some help with. All shooting will be done with an xPro1 and Fuji's lenses.(I might have access to an M9 just to give it a try). I hope I don't like it!!!$$$$$

    1. Camera settings. I've always used sRGB as that's "what's recommended". I've been reading that for prints I should either shoot raw or Adobe RGB as it has a wider color gamut. I'd like to keep shooting JPEG's as I feel the Xpro1 is excellent here. I'd also like to stay away from the extra post processing involved with shooting raw but if I need to I'll make the adjustment.

    2. Display. I'm using an older IMac and I've just started to calibrate(what a difference)! and have found that the color gamut doesn't even cover 70% of the sRGB color gamut. If I can't see beyond that would there be any point in shooting with a wider gamut that I can't see? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the whole color gamut thing. Also, I'll be replacing this monitor soon and hopefully getting one with a wider gamut than this old timer. Any suggestions here? (Been waiting for the new IMacs but so far there's no word on when and if they'll be available).

    3. Aperture. When importing from the sd card are there any setting that I should be paying special attention to?
    When I export I've always used "export as JPEG, original size". I've had some prints made this way with good results but for my own use or for family/friends. I just want to be sure I'm getting the best output I can without a lot of post processing.

    I found this from Apple.

    "Setting your colorspace in Aperture

    In contrast with Adobe Photoshop, you don't have to set your "workspace." Instead, Aperture will always work in a wide gamut, except for when you apply Onscreen Proofing, which shows you how your work should look in final output. When you know your project is bound primarily for one medium, such as RA-4, it's a good idea to leave Onscreen Proofing on all the time while editing, which would give you the equivalent effect of setting your workspace.

    After you're done editing your project, set the Export Presets to match the ColorSync profile that you use for Onscreen Proofing.
    Tip: In some cases, the profile lists don't match (an issue resolved in Aperture 1.1 or later). Adobe RGB, for example, is included as an Export Preset option but not as an Onscreen proofing option. Try using ColorMatch RGB or Wide Gamut RGB when proofing for Adobe 1998.

    To make your color settings, using RA-4 as the example output, you would do this:

    From the View menu, choose Proofing Profile > sRGB IEC61966-2.1.
    Look in the View menu again. Notice that there's now a checkmark next to Onscreen Proofing, which only appears after making your initial profile selection. From now on, you can turn it on/off by selecting this menu command or using the Shift-Option-P keyboard shortcut.
    From the Aperture menu, choose Presets > Image Export.
    In the Export Presets dialog, locate the ColorSync Profile pop-up menu, and choose sRGB IEC61966-2.1.
    Click OK."

    All of this is new to me. I've also read that I should export as a 16 bit tiff. More confusion.

    I'm just looking for the most efficient way to go from camera-display-output and getting the best possible prints in the end.
    If any of you can help it would greatly appreciated.
    Confused Kris
     
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  2. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    I have no idea how Aperture works, so I really cannot comment on that. As to the choice of a color space, the difference between sRGB and a wider gamut space such as Adobe RGB is in the number of different colors that may be reproduced. What this means is that colors that are out of gamut will be represented by a slightly different color that is within gamut. In theory, this impacts your image in two ways: colors may be less accurate with regard to the original scene, and transitions between colors (for example, sky blue going from lighter to darker) may be less smooth. How important this may be depends on the scene and its particular colors.

    The reason why sRGB is the "recommended" space is because that is what is used for the web. If use a wider gamut color space and neglect to convert to sRGB prior to posting on the web, the colors will look wrong. You are, in effect, sacrificing color accuracy for convenience. What you should do is use the wider gamut color space and convert to sRGB prior to posting on the web.

    One of the advantages of shooting in RAW mode is that you can choose your color space after the fact, during the RAW conversion process.

    The fact that your computer monitor may not be able to display the entire color gamut should not keep you from using a wider gamut. The reason is that the printer will definitely be able to print more of the color gamut so, even if you could not see it on screen, you will see it on paper. It's to one's advantage to capture and keep as much information as possible. Why cripples your files now when it is likely that your next monitor or output device will display more of the gamut.

    One last note: If you do try the M9, you must shoot RAW (DNG) as the JPEGs do not come close to showing the camera's potential.

    Cheers,

    Antonio
     
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  3. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I'll be following this topic closely. I understand that the Adobe RGB has a wider gamut with more colors and think I'll probably switch over to that, but I'm also primarily a JPEG shooter (unless it's a scene with a really wide dynamic range or difficult mixed lighting that I may want to tweak).

    I'd be interested to read what other Fuji X-pro1 shooters would say here since the RAWs are notoriously difficult to work with. In the OPs case would it make any sense to continue to shoot JPEG, but switch it over to the Adobe RGB? I mean, you'd still be getting the benefits of the wider color gamut and so long as you change the colorspace before sending to the web, you'd have a better representation of the actual colors.....correct?
     
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  4. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    One thing I rarely see in discussions of colour space, is the effect on the gradation of colours within the different colour spaces. For a given bit depth, a smaller colour gamut will lead to a more gradual change in colours whereas a larger gamut will have coarser "steps". So a smaller colour gamut would be better for images where nuanced differences in colour are important* (I could imagine skin tones being an example**) whereas a larger colour gamut has benefits for shots with rich, intense colours.
    See Working Space Comparison: sRGB vs. Adobe RGB 1998 for more info, if you hadn't read that already.

    *as long as the required colours fall within the small gamut
    **in the colours that skin tones usually consist of, yellow-orange-red/pink, the sRGB and the Adobe RGB colour spaces don't differ very strongly so the difference between these two colour spaces for skin tones should be limited. I can't immediately think of a common situation where cyans or greens require very smooth gradations, but for these colours, the difference will probably be larger.
     
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  5. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    For the best output shoot RAW (even on the XP1 it makes a difference, although dealing with XP1 RAW files is still difficult for some apps - experiment with JPG vs RAW), use Adobe RGB (or something even better if possible) and calibrate your monitor (as you've discovered this makes a big difference). In terms of AdoramaPix, I've found that my own prints are always better than such services because I can choose the paper and control and adjust the output. I don't use Aperture.

    If you are selling your artwork it makes sense to invest in a good printer. I use the Epson 3880.

    Even though I've made progress with printing and I'm generally happy with my results it is still a black box to me and it's one area where I'd like to get a real education.
     
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  6. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Antonio
    Just out of curiosity, what is it that makes the X-pro1 RAW files difficult to work with? I believe I had read this elsewhere but do not know the reason. You still get the benefits of the wider color space even if you shoot JPEG, so IMO it would make sense to switch to Adobe RGB. However, you can convert RAW files to 16 bit TIFFs, so there is yet another advantage in terms of dynamic range and color gradation. Again, whether these things are actually visible depends on the scene and the file. But, more information is almost always better than less information.

    Antonio
     
  7. snkenai

    snkenai SC All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    This is completely out of my comfort zone. So I will be following this also. At least until I feel, that I am drowning. :smile:
     
  8. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    It's been hard for third party apps to decompose the sensor configuration (and Fuji has not helped them). Something about demosaicing...
     
  9. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    I'll let you know in a couple days :biggrin: , but it's the different RGB pixel layout of the X-trans sensor and the 3rd party software makers dealing with the learning curve without much (or any) help from Fuji is my crude understanding of the issue.
     
  10. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
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  11. winginkris

    winginkris SC Veteran

    315
    Dec 15, 2011
    Thanks Andrew. I'd like to shoot raw, but #1 there's are few programs that support it and #2 I have very little experience with raw processing. As far as printing, I wouldn't mind doing it myself, but there are times when I print somewhat large and I'm not sure if a printer such as the one you mentioned will print large. (Of course I could always send the larger one's out).
     
  12. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    After the last discussion on colour management I ended up almost finishing a short paper on the basics. I should get it done in the next decade or so. But in summary.

    1. There's nothing wrong with either sRGB or shooting jpegs *IF* you're getting the results you want. Yes, there are more available colours (mostly to do with saturation of colours) in a larger gamut, but sometimes that just doesn't matter. If you're happy, you're happy. The advantage of working in sRGB is that you have a simplified workflow. Images will look pretty much the same on any medium as the colours don't need to be remapped and you can send the same file to any lab because they can all handle the sRGB space easily. Almost every printer made today has a device space larger than the sRGB working space. Arguably, some subjects may be better shot in a smaller colour space. If the colour range of a subject fits comfortable within a smaller gamut (a studio portrait, for example) a smaller gamut may give you better transitions in tones. Landscapes, especially ones with the intense tones of dawn or dusk, are probably best shot in a larger colour space and bit depth than jpegs allow.

    2. If you're using Aperture for your jpegs, you already know how to process raw files. The program has basically the same controls. You'll just have a larger colour space and bit depth to work in.

    3. Bit depth and gamut work together to determine the smoothness of transitions from one shade to another. Andrew is correct in that a smaller gamut will have smoother transitions than a larger one if the bit depth is the same for both. Just because you have a huge gamut doesn't mean that you have access to every point in that gamut. If you're working in 8 bit you'll have 16.7 million desecrate points to work with, regardless of the gamut. Increase that to 12 bits and you have 68 billion discrete colour points to work with. Which leads to point 4.

    4. The biggest limitation of jpegs is not the gamut they work in. It's the bit depth. You literally have 1/4096 of the available colour points to work with compared to 12 bit. Even if you continue to use sRGB as a working space you'll see a big difference if you can shoot at a higher bit depth (your camera can see either 10 or 12 bit depending on the processors and 16 bit for some MF cameras). But jpegs HAVE to be 8 bit. So it becomes VASTY more important to get it right in camera if you're a jpeg shooter as there's less information in the file and they tend to fall apart more easily when pushed and prodded in post processing (even ignoring the damage that compressing and uncompressing the file has when you open and save it). In most cases I would recommend that you worry less about gamut and more about bit depth. Bit depth will make a bigger difference, especially in larger prints.

    5. Here's a screen shot of the gamut plot for my MacBook Pro screen (the current iMac, despite its IPS panel, isn't much better than this because it has a cheap controller card and awful bit depth)

    Screen_Shot_2012-07-26_at_9_46_13_AM.

    As you can see the gamut of the screen is very close to the sRGB working space. But they're not equal. Even my screen shows some colours outside even aRGB. Your monitor profile will try to map all colours into the space covered by BOTH the device profile (monitor) and working space (sRGB in your case). If you're happy with what you see on screen at this point the you can save to sRGB (your current screen) with confidence. If you can't get the colour saturation you want then you need to be working in a bigger colour space. You may be able to visualise what those extra colours will look like. Some people say they can. But after 15 years of fiddling with profiles and colours I still can't. My other screen displays 100% of the Adobe RGB colour space (aRGB). In 90% of my images it makes very little difference (portraits, studio lighting shots).

    Monitor calibration is the most important step in the process, which you have done. You're now working to an industry standard. If your lab is decent you should be able to download the printer profiles for their printers and soft proof the end results on your system. Then you'll actually be able to see if their printer can capture all the information you send them faithfully or whether it will be remapped. If they don't have profiles available you're better off in sRGB anyway as at least you'll know what you're getting. You will be somewhat limited by the 8 bit depth of the files, especially if you print big, but they will look better than an aRGB file in 8 bits. People won't miss the colours they can't see, but they'll sure notice the banding if it occurs.

    Gordon
     
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  13. bartjeej

    bartjeej SC Hall of Famer

    Nov 12, 2010
    bart
    thanks for your very clear and informative post, Gordon!
     
  14. winginkris

    winginkris SC Veteran

    315
    Dec 15, 2011
    Wow Gordon, thanks for the detailed reply! I'm starting to get a better understanding of this. When I calibrated my monitor, the graph showed that my current monitor was only showing less than 70% of sRGB! Maybe I did something wrong, but it seemed pretty straightforward. This is why I'm looking for a better monitor.(any suggestions here)? In order to get a better bit depth, I need to shoot raw and export as a 16 bit file? Unfortunately, the xpro1 has little in the way of raw processing software available and I've also read that the raw files are hard to get right. I'll probably start shooting both JPEG and raw and see if I can work with both to see if it's worth the extra effort for me to shoot in raw and then process. More to learn! I like your idea of downloading the printer profiles from the lab that's doing the actual printing and soft proofing for correct end results. Great suggestion! You've made a very difficult thing for me to understand quite a bit easier. Thanks again for such a helpful reply, it's a huge help! Kris
     
  15. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    • Like Like x 3
  16. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    double post. sorry.
     
  17. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    No. You did nothing wrong. 70% is the historical norm for Apple. It's only in the last 18 months they've made screens with more than 80% of sRGB. Even the IPS screen iMacs have quite small gamuts and low bit depth. There's more to a screen than just the panel itself. Although they've always been touted as the OS for designers and artists this has been because they've had a good policy in implementing colour management, not because they've made great screens. I'm no longer surprised by the Mac fanatics (I use Mac, so....) who think that Mac systems come calibrated from the factory or that they have the best screens money can buy. They don't.

    As for a screen. Dell are good but cheap"er". NEC are great. Eizo are the pinnacle but pricey. There may be others but they're the ones I've owned.

    Gordon
     
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  18. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    You're a Novocastrian??? *waves*

    and really thanks for your very helpful colour education! But I cant het the link to work on my ipad in chrome... Ill see what happens if i access via the app
     
  19. flash

    flash SC Veteran

    372
    May 6, 2011
    Gordon
    Nope. The Central Coast. But I shoot about a dozen weddings a year in Newcastle and a dozen in the Hunter. It's only an hour*ish* driving. *waves back* ;-)

    Gordon
     
  20. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Lol, yeah saw that when I got to the end of your colour tute - which was most appreciated by this colour managemennt n00b :)