If you’ve ever exported an image and the colors looked off after uploading it to your website, this tutorial can help! A basic understanding of how color space works in Photoshop can save you some serious time and headache. In this tutorial, we break down the differences between LAB, Adobe RGB 1998, ProPhoto RGB, and sRGB while offering general tips on how to choose what color space to work in and what color space to use when exporting your final photos.
LAB color represents every possible color that the human eye can see. Think of this color space as a reference by which all other color spaces will be measured. Due to technological constraints, working in LAB generally isn’t very practical. Instead, we need to choose a color space that will cover enough of a range to accurately represent the images that we’re working with while still being compatible with as many devices as possible.
Adobe RGB 1998
Adobe was one of the first to develop a color space that had a wide gamut while also being technologically feasible to use on modern devices. Even now, many photographers and editors will use this as the standard since it covers such a practical range and is almost universally accepted by many different software and displays.
The new kid on the block, ProPhoto RGB has a much wider gamut than than the older Adobe RGB. Many contemporary photographers prefer this color space because this is where most modern DSLRs and mirrorless cameras capture. While Adobe RGB can still work, editing in ProPhoto RGB with images from a modern camera will give you the absolute most flexibility to work with in post-production.
No matter what space you choose to edit in, almost all of your exports for the web and social media should be converted to sRGB. This color space was designed with compatibility in mind. Whether you’re looking at a photo on your brand new iPhone or on Grandma’s 20 year old desktop that smells like cigarettes, the color in your images will appear consistent across any device.