Wide gamut monitors that cover virtually all the Adobe RGB colour space used to be extremely expensive and purchased only by professionals or very capable amateur photographers. However, those days have changed and the price has and continues to drop to the point that they are coming in range of many more people. However, although they sound great on paper, their use is not as straight forward as a general purpose sRGB moniotr.
If like me, you have
just bought a high gamut aRGB monitor and are tearing your hair
out trying to get consistent colour throughout Photoshop and the
Internet then this article is for you. I hope you will stick with
me through the logic of what I have discovered, but if you are
desperate to sort out your woes and don't care about the explanation
then Part 5 is the equivalent of
a Quick Start guide. You will probably still need to refer back
to the other articles to see how to do the individual steps in
Adobe RGB vs standard RGB monitors, the pros and cons.
The topic of colour management is a horribly complex and technical
mess that to many photographers is a nightmare to be avoided.
Perhaps it is simplest to set everything (camera/monitor/editing
software/printer etc) to sRGB and forget it ?
I certainly included myself in that group. Until recently, I
would run for the hills at the mention of Adobe RGB 1998 as previous
experiences of colour management had ended in tears. If you just
do a lot of web design or upload images to the internet on Facebook,
Flikr or whatever, I honestly believe that it is much simpler
to forget the wide gamut colour spaces such as Adobe1988 or ProPhoto
RGB unless you are prepared to take the time to learn the theory
thoroughly. Otherwise you will get just the opposite of what you
are hoping for, ie you will get colour-inconsistencies popping
up unexpectedly when you could do without it.
The Internet is an standardised (sRGB) world and most of the
time images look fine using any old web browser, provided
that you have an sRGB monitor that is. This also
includes Ipads/tablettes laptops etc. You can certainly also save
yourself a lot of money by sticking to a decent general purpose
However, if you need accurate and
consistent as opposed to just nice
colour or work in a professional environment,
or like to print your images and have confidence that what you
see on the screen is what you will see in print, you will need
to get a colour-accurate monitor as part of a full colour-managed
* Tip: If you want to avoid the colour management issue,
and have a general-purpose, low gamut monitor and just want to
print the occasional image that still looks pretty darned good,
I would recommend working in the sRGB colour space throughout
and to ensure that you use a good printer such as an Epson or
Canon, with genuine inks and paper from the same supplier. Set
the printer to manage colours and you will then pretty much avoid
most of the issues. This is what I did for many years to great
Although prices have dropped, accurate monitors are not cheap, but I guess quality
never is. I recently purchased a superb Eizo mointor, a Coloredge
CX271 27" which I now love as the resolution and detail,
colours etc are just stellar, but I went through blood, sweat and
tears trying to come to terms with colour management theory and
overcoming unexpected web browser deficiencies until I was satisfied.
In this article I hope to help you if you are struggling with
your new sooper-dooper high-gamut monitor like I did.
I should qualify what I am writing with the following statement
I am still an absolute novice at colour management and I am certainly
no guru. I feel totally qualified writing thisidiots guide as I
was a self proclaimed idiot in this field myself. I thionk that the benefit
of this is that I now know what I kneed to know and more importantly
for you, what you need to know !
I have learned what
works through trial and error in overcoming the snags
that you will encounter if you purchase a high gamut monitor and
try doing things on the Internet with it. I also recognise
that this subject can quickly get very technical and complicated
so eyes start glazing over when you throw in all the jargon terms
like colour target, profiles, spaces, gamuts blah blah so I will
try and keep this to a minimum. (If only because I don't undersatand
them all either!) But trust me, what I am going to explain to
you works !
If you take your photography seriously and invest in a modern
monitor capable of displaying far more colours in a more consistent
fashion, such as an upper model from Eizo, Lacie, NEC etc, then
it is sacrilage not to work in aRGB . Many can display almost
100% of the aRGB colour space which is 20% larger than that of
an sRGB monitor.
You can see from the probably familiar diagram above how many
colours you are missing in sRGB. Prophoto RGB is an even larger
colour space but there are no monitors that can reproduce it or
printers that can print it. It can also introduce other problems
so I would avoid it for the time being. If you are interested,
as I know Lightroom uses this very wide gamut, I suggest you read
Vodnak's article as he explains this more fully.
Calibrating your monitor
I am going to assume that you have calibrated your monitor.
If you haven't then you will never achieve good and consistent colours and this is the place you must start.
I am not going to explain how to do thisin detail as there are lots of Youtube videos on this subject that do it very well. It is pretty simple and involves using a colorimeter
that you hang on your monitor while it automatically puts up
a series of colour swatches and measures the colours on your screen.
At the end of the process a profile is produced of your screen and all
the corrections that the computer operating system needs to make
to make it look correct with no colour casts and at the right
The profile is stored in a file on your computer.
I used a Datacolor Spyder 4 and this works very well and cost
about £100. So you need to factor this into your budget when purchasing most screens.