When i am done processing my image in Photoshop i will want to save it as a .JPG file.

When the save dialog opens it has a checkmark next to "ICC profile: sRGB IEC61966-2.1".

I understand that this embeds the sRGB colorspace header withing the image. So here is my question:

If i embed the sRGB profile then why does the image look faded in the browser? I understand that sRGB should be the default for browsers/web? Therefore my image with an embedded sRGB profile should display properly.

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    What browser? Not all browsers actually read the ICC profile embedded in the metadata. – Michael C Jan 7 '16 at 8:38
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    Hmm, browsers should default to sRGB, and whether the sRGB profile is embedded or not should not matter? If the browser uses the profile, it gets sRGB, if not, then it defaults to sRGB. What am i missing here - why do images with embedded sRGB profile look different in browsers? – ele lont Jan 7 '16 at 11:38
  • What is the gamut of the monitor you are using, and do you have it color profiled? – mattdm Jan 7 '16 at 12:13
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    @elelont Not all browsers default to sRGB. Just because they should doesn't mean they all do. – Michael C Jan 7 '16 at 14:48
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    @MichaelClark Yeah, exactly. I think, in fact, most default to sending unmodified values right along. – mattdm Jan 7 '16 at 15:17

Here's my guess. You note in a comment that "If the browser uses the profile, it gets sRGB, if not, then it defaults to sRGB." But, that's not necessarily the case. The browser may say "If there's a profile, I'll treat the photo as color managed" and "If there's no profile, show it in the monitor's native colors". That native space may be sRGB, and for a long time, that was a fine approximation of reality, but isn't necessarily true especially if you have a fancy new monitor.

There's a page here: http://www.gballard.net/psd/go_live_page_profile/embeddedJPEGprofiles.html which goes into detail. The top demo lets you mouse over to see the difference between Adobe RGB and sRGB in taggged and untagged versions; scroll down to see different color spaces compared to the same color space untagged. On my laptop (with a terrible yet color-profiled screen) and Firefox, Adobe RGB shows a more visible jump, but untagged sRGB is definitely also different from tagged. (While tagged Adobe RGB and sRGB both appear indistinguishable.)

I also notice that on my system, the untagged sRGB image shows up slightly darker and with more contrast. That sounds like it might be what you describe when you say the one with the embedded profile is "faded". So, I think bottom line is that the version with the ICC profile is probably actually correct; if you want it to be "punchier", adjust your processing accordingly.

  • Thanks for the thorough reply. The untagged sRGB image shows up slightly darker and with more contrast for me as well. But what does it mean if the browser says: "If there's a profile, I'll treat the photo as color managed". Does it have like a second layer of color profile on top of the embedded sRGB profile? I don't quite understand how the image produced by the browser on top of the same sRGB space is different than the one i see in IrfanView, Photoshop etc? Why doesn't the browser render the image like the rest of the programs (IrfanView, Photoshop)? – ele lont Jan 7 '16 at 16:24
  • I expect that those other programs are actually treating images without a profile as sRGB, and those might look different in the browser (which treats them as monitor-native, and we hope it's close enough to sRGB). If you're saying that the tagged image looks different in the browser and the other viewers, there's a different problem, and something is messed up with (probably the browers') interpretation of the profile. – mattdm Jan 7 '16 at 16:42
  • Okay, i investigated this a bit more, i open the raw file in PS (photoshop): 1) Save the file as jpg WITHOUT ICC profile BROWSER != PS | IRFANVIEW == BROWSER | 2) Save the file as jpg WITH ICC profile BROWSER == PS | PS != IRFANVIEW | Therefore i assume that IrfanView (and Paint and Photos etc) do not read the ICC profile - is that correct? Strange thing is that PS displays JPG with ICC and without EXACTLY the same. How is that possible? upload.ee/image/5461652/Different.jpg – ele lont Jan 7 '16 at 19:05
  • Yeah, I think what's going on is that A) PS and Browser are color-management aware, B) PS defaults to sRGB for untagged, C) Browser defaults to non-color-managed for untagged, and D) Irfanview (and etc) are just plain not aware. Can you confirm that the ICC and not versions both look the same in Irfanview? – mattdm Jan 7 '16 at 19:13
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    PS with and without profile looks the same: PS has a setting where you specify what happens if you open an image without profile. One option is alert, another silent assigning of a profile like sRGB. Look at your setting, it should give you the explanation you are looking for. – MirekE Jun 5 '16 at 17:33

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