My current workflow as regards color spaces is this:

  • Shoot in Adobe98 colorspace in RAW.
  • Process on a calibrated Mac monitor (I believe that the gamma is 2.2) using Lightroom
  • Produce jpgs in sRGB for web deployment.
  • Upload said images to a website where people can buy them.

My problem is this: the colors in lightroom don't match the colors of the images on the website, even when viewed on the same monitor. I assume that that's because of the change in color spaces. Should I maintain an adobe colorspace all the way, then? Is it safe to assume that browsers will be able to read and interpret color spaces other than sRGB? And how to deal with a potential customer who doesn't have a calibrated monitor, and therefore sees a different version of the image than the one I've made? That last can lead to them either not buying the image because they don't like the color, or them buying the image and getting frustrated that the colors don't match (aren't as vibrant, etc) as what they're expecting.

  • \$\begingroup\$ How can a RAW file contain a colorspace? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can select the colorspace in the camera. I'm not sure if it's choosing that colorspace just to render in lightroom, of not. There's no easy way for me to tell which colorspace is which, just that they are different. \$\endgroup\$
    – mmr
    Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Colorspaces on RAW have no effect at all, they affect only the JPEG produced in the camera. And often not very positively, since the same bits per pixel of the JPEG with Adobe98 CAN describe a greater number of colors, that the camera can fill only partially. Banding is easier to experience. On the other hand, if you use sRGB, those bits are used fully and not wasted, but some colors cannot be represented and end up being blown out (full saturation). \$\endgroup\$
    – FarO
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 14:20

4 Answers 4


You need to be embedding a color profile in you image, as also using a browser that supports color management.

Also, like Guffa said even with correct color management on your part, using color profiles and a calibrated monitor, you can't really control their computer.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ If you're embedding a colour profile it will be ignored by the majority of users' browsers (IE 7 & 8) which will assume that the image is using the sRGB colour space and display it as such. So unless you've converted your images to sRGB the colour will be off. Until IE9 replaces older versions you'll either need to suggest viewing them in Firefox or Safari to see the 'correct' colours or you'd be better off converting them all to sRGB since this is how IE (and Chrome) will display them anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – pelms
    Commented Aug 8, 2010 at 17:03

If you convert the image from one color space to another, the colors won't change (except the colors that fall outside what the color space can represent). The image data is converted so that it's interpreted with the new color space to the same color as previously.

If you replace the color space without converting the image, the image data will just be interpreted using the new color space and the colors will change.

Generally programs like browsers doesn't use the color space information in images, so they are displayed without conversion. So, you should convert the images to sRGB for a consistent look.

Dealing with customers that doesn't have a calibrated monitor is problematic, as you only have full control over your part of the process. You can only inform them about what this means and how the results may differ. One method that is used sometimes is to provide an image of a grayscale spectrum, so that they at least can check that their contrast and brightness settings aren't completely off.


In my experience, when the final production will be in sRGB, use that color profile from start to finish. In my 10 years, nobody has complained when I deliver sRGB profiled images, nor has anyone requested otherwise. It saves a lot of headache between editor and web.


If your only output is web, you can:

  • convert RAW directly to sRGB so you eliminate at least one difference between you and the customer
  • convert JPGs' from your source color space to sRGB, use conversion preview to see if you're losing anything there

There is no point to use anything except sRGB for web as you can't control the customers browser usage. You can't do anything about other peoples' monitors either.

PS: fully color preserving workflow should start with shooting a color reference card and calibrating your camera too :)


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