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I just read an article by a photographer who explained that he always works in AdobeRGB because it has a larger gamut. This is fair enough if his monitor can display it, but he illustrated this by in turn assigning AdobeRGB and sRGB profiles to an example image. This confused me as he did no conversion between them.

Then he went on to say he always prints from AdobeRGB because it has a wider range of colours.

Maybe I'm wrong, but surely it isn't possible to get a 'better' print by starting out with a larger gamut and squeezing that more to fit the paper range? If parts of sRGB images are out of gamut for print, why would it be preferable to print from AdobeRGB?

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The workflow: You develop your image from raw into large gamut color space (even larger than AdobeRGB) and this is your source. The photo editor then handles automatically and behind the scenes conversions for your display or your printer. Or you can export sRGB for web.

I just read an article by a photographer who explained that he always works in AdobeRGB because it has a larger gamut. This is fair enough if his monitor can display it...

It does not matter what gamut the monitor has. That's different data path and you don't even do anything about it. It is handled by the color management system for you automatically and only that data floating to your monitor are reduced in gamut. Nothing else. Your original stays in large gamut. Even if your monitor is sRGB, you can print larger than AdobeRGB, because you print from the original data that is large gamut.

...but surely it isn't possible to get a 'better' print by starting out with a larger gamut and squeezing that more to fit the paper range? If parts of sRGB images are out of gamut for print, why would it be preferable to print from AdobeRGB?

The gamut shape of printer/paper/ink combination has different shape than the synthetic sRGB or AdobeRGB profiles. In some areas it is smaller, in some areas it is larger. My oldish Epson 3800 can print colors that are outside AdobeRGB gamut. If I reduced the image to sRGB before printing, I would lose some nice blues and greens. There are areas that the printer can't print, but this is routinely solved by profile conversion or if the automated process is not good enough for you, you can use soft proofing and correct individual out of gamut colors manually.

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As the graph presented in this article shows, using AdobeRGB might allow you better make use of some greens which are inside the gamut of the print but outside the gamut of sRGB. Of course, the monitor should have a large enough gamut to allow you to actually see the difference.

I use might as not all paper/ink combinations deliver the same gamut. That is why printers are profiled and Photoshop provides color proofing

The situation you describe in which one simple assigns different profiles to an image sounds like the usual mistake one makes when not understanding color management. Interpreting any RGB value as AdobeRGB will make it look more saturated than interpreting it as sRGB (x% of A is always greater than x% of B if A > B) but it doesn't directly mean that the image you now see (as interpreted in AdobeRGB) is outside the gamut of sRGB. If he just wanted to demonstrate that AdobeRGB's gamut is larger than sRGB's one, he could just have used a chromacity diagram.

  • Nice, thanks. That helps. It is difficult sometimes to filter out the wrong assumptions from the facts when people publish online regarding colour management. I will try to do some test prints using AdobeRGB vs sRGB. – oblomov Jul 16 '16 at 18:59
  • If some of the colors in an image are outside the gamut of sRGB and the printer is also capable of printing those out of range colors then they will also be contained in the printer profile. The sRGB monitor will still not be able to render the out of sRGB gamut colors when soft-proofing, though, and those colors will still be rendered differently on the sRGB limited monitor than they will be rendered in an actual print. – Michael C Jul 17 '16 at 2:00

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