sRGB vs Adobe RGB


You get yourself a brand camera and start setting it up. You go page by page through the menu making changes all along the way, but the one setting most people seem to ignore is Color Space. Most cameras will let you choose between sRGB and Adobe RGB, but what does that even mean? First understand that choosing a color space only applies to JPG images. With RAW images, you will choose a color space later when editing your photos. Let me start by explaining what a Color Space is.

Every pixel in every photo you have ever taken is made up of red, green, and blue color values. A camera's color space is what determines what those color values really mean. When you think of a color space, think about a container that holds all values of red, green, and blue. The size of that container is what makes color spaces different from one another. However, no matter the size of the container, every color can only have 255 color values. In other words, the larger the color space the more red, green, and blue colors available, but the further apart each color is from one other. So even though you have more colors available, it doesn't necessarily mean your colors will look better. On the other hand, a smaller color space means certain color values will be clipped since they may not be part of the smaller container.


Why does any of this matter? Every device you own from your phone to your monitor to your printer have a color space. If those color spaces don't match, neither will your colors.

To make it simple, sRGB is a smaller container than Adobe RGB, but sRGB is what most phones, monitors, and printers use out of the box. So which one is the right choice? I highly recommend shooting in Adobe RGB and changing the settings on your devices to match. Adobe RGB gives you a much greater range of colors that are more vibrant and saturated when compared to sRGB color values. 

So you should use Adobe RGB, right? Yes and no. Think about it this way. Adobe RGB is the better option, but if all computers use sRGB color values by default, what do you think will happen when you send your client a photo that you took in Adobe RGB? If the color values don't look as vibrant in sRGB and that's what your client or random online users see, it may come off badly. What I'd recommend doing is shooting in Adobe RGB since you'll have more color values available to you and converting it in Photoshop to sRGB when sending to a client or posting online.