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Archive 2013 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

So I just discovered how to use the soft proofing feature in Lightroom 4. I have two monitors I use, the MacBook Air 2012 Samsung monitor, and an ASUS PA248Q.

I've heard that editing photos with wide gamuts can look funny when viewed on a device with a smaller gamut, but I have noticed something odd;

My Samsung display says that the picture's color gamut is too wide for the monitor to display. My ASUS display does not show this. The photo's color space is sRGB. For argument's sake, if I edit photos that can't even display properly on my screen, then what is the point?

Also, if my camera is set to take pictures in the sRGB format, then why is Lightroom reporting that my .CR2 is out-of-gamut? Lightroom even reports the AdobeRGB proof to be out-of-gamut, even though that it is larger than sRGB, and my camera is also capable of taking photos in that color space.


The screenshots are labeled so that you can identify the monitor and the gamut warnings.

Jul 18, 2013 at 02:19 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

Quite interesting, cause my workflow consists of editing pics which are in wideRGB gamut. Never noticed anything "funny".

Otherwise that softproofing should just compare gamut of pic you are using and gamut of color profile for your monitor. If it matches its within gamut, if it dont, its not.

Manufacturers sometimes use own "sRGB" specs, which may not fit within sRGB inside Adobe software. Thats might be one reason why you see "out of gamut" with your right from camera pic.

But camera usually takes photo in full gamut it can do and then its just either converted or simply assigned sRGB to that RAW file. Which means original gamut is still there, it just has assigned sRGB. Camera itself doesnt shoot in any gamut, it simply captures everything it can.

If you make sRGB .TIF from that RAW file and run it throught PS or LightRoom, it shouldnt show gamut warning. Thats if you LCD can display full sRGB (not always the case, but Macs should).

Jul 18, 2013 at 02:34 AM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

If you are shooting raw, then the sRGB setting doesn’t do much of anything. The sRGB and AdobeRGB settings are only used for creating in-camera jpegs. Your camera’s gamut is far wider than either of these two small color spaces, and the raw image data will reflect that.

The point is to retain as much color information as possible until you need to convert to a smaller space for web/monitor display, printer, or projector.

If you were to edit in a small gamut working space, colors could be clipped during some editing operations, and you would never get them back. Working in a larger color space allows for the possibility of colors moving out and in what would have been a smaller space. Lr uses a very large working space: ProPhotoRGB, but with a linear gamma.

My monitors cover about 98% of AdobeRGB, but some of that other 2% is also out of the sRGB gamut. My printers can reproduce colors outside of sRGB (and AdobeRGB), but there are still colors in sRGB that are out of the printers’ gamuts.


Brian A

Jul 18, 2013 at 03:36 AM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

The MBA monitor is slightly smaller than sRGB. Unless you have a hard reference right next to the screen, this is totally irrelevant (as long as the gamut isn't miniscule - which it isn't).

Your eyes adapt to the area you're looking at, the important thing is that everything WITHIN that area is well balanced. So even if the gamut of your screen is slightly smaller than sRGB, you can edit sRGB images quite perfectly on them. The main thing is color balance, that the gray curve is ok, and that the gamma curve is ok.

To give a physical example:
If you work on your MBA only, in a room with fairly low ambient light, you'll see (experience, interpret) the more saturated colors on the MBA screen as very saturated after just a short while.
Then, if you light three LED lights with extremely saturated red, green and blue primaries and put them next to the MBA screen, everything on screen will look washed out and non-descript.

The same will happen if you take a full Adobe RGB screen and run it at full tilt (no profiling) fed with the same data as the MBA screen right next to it. The MBA screen will look pretty washed out, even though it looked just fine a few seconds ago...

The balance and the brightness curves are the important things for "normal" straight-up editing.
It's only when you do soft-proofing with a physical reference next to the screen that (smaller) deviations become a problem.

Jul 18, 2013 at 11:35 PM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

Well, if that's the case, then another question that this has brought up is, "when I'm done editing a picture to how I like it to look, and some of the colors are out of gamut, what am I looking at?" And what is wrong with the image I like even when it is out of gamut on my screen but looks good?

Jul 19, 2013 at 05:14 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · If your monitor doesn't support the gamut, what's the point?

That depends on your settings, actually...

If you're working on an RGB image that's going to print, or to a smaller target space than the one you're working in - then you might have quite a bit of color that are OOG. They will still be viewable on screen, though you get blinkies from them when soft-proofing.
What the color-management system is doing then is to warn you about problems further ahead.

But if you're IN the target space already (working in sRGB, going to export in sRGB) then one of the channels have [almost] clipped to either 0 or 255. At least one channel has a flat-spot, where no detail information can be carried through. If the CMM and your editing has worked correctly, this does not necessarily mean disaster, unless you're going to process the image in further steps past this.

Carrying detail in all three color channels can be close to impossible if you have flowers, synthetic materials or other very strong colors in the scene, and you export to (or work in) sRGB. But since the green channel is the main "luminance detail" carrying channel you can clip small "tips" and "valleys" of the red and blue without much visual/perceptual damage being done.

If you overdo it (crank saturation) though, you can often see large flat areas that are pinned to a certain maximum saturation color. Within this area you have close to zero fine detail information, stuff like surface structures and so on often disappear completely.

Some people don't mind this, I think it looks awful (but then I'm an old-school pre-press guy...)

Jul 19, 2013 at 09:19 AM

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