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sRGB Saturation/Vibrance Issues - HELP!

Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Hi All,

 

Until today, I had assumed everything was smooth sailing until a lengthy discussion with a customer over a recently delivered job has made me start questioning myself.

 

A summary of the issue is below:

Images tagged with sRGB appear way over saturated in external applications and on at least 3 other systems outside of our design house. Applications include Photoshop, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari etc.

 

I will try to provide as much detail as possible below:

1. Our monitors are, and always have been calibrated with the Spyder4 Pro

2. Windows color management has the profile created via Spyder4 Pro applied as the monitor profile

3. Photoshops working RGB space is the sRGB space with profile embedding enabled

4. When editing images in photoshop, the colour I see is true to product/print. In saying this, if i hold the product to the screen (in the right lighting conditions of course), print the image - the colours are as I would expect.

5. The colour remains correct when viewing through the windows photo app, chrome, firefox, safari, and edge on our editing workstation.

6. If i view the problematic images via faststone image viewer, or MS Paint - i get the over saturated look and feel.

7. Similarly, if i soft proof in Photoshop to 'Monitor RGB' I also get the same over saturated look and feel

8. The wider problem here is - my client is seeing the same saturated look and feel across all devices and applications (including photoshop) They also appear over saturated on all browsers (but do not for me on my main design station).

9. I can further confirm this by transferring images to another design machine we have here (uncalibrated normal gamut screens)

10. If i kill the associated color profile on the monitor on this design machine, I see the same over saturated image

11. The problem I have is - these images are primarily for web, but also require printing. The images that look correct for printing for me, appear over saturated for the client and on other devices. If I kill the color profile of the screen and edit the over saturated image to make it appear correct for my client and other applications - then it is not color correct for print?

 

I've been pulling my hair out about this for hours and hours. It's taken up a good part of the last two days. I'm now questioning - are all of my clients seeing crazily over saturated images when i'm seeing color correct images on my monitor?!

 

If the majority of my work is for web - should i just kill the monitor profile?!

 

Any help is GREATLY appreciated. I will attach some screenshots/imagery of the image in question.

 

In image-test-A - Photoshop is set to use sRGB as the working space. Monitor color profile is set to our calibrated profile. On the left is the photoshop image and how it SHOULD appear, on the right is the image in FastStone Image Viewer with CMS turned ON but Auto-detect Monitor Profile turned off (this is how all clients machines, and our secondary design machines are seeing the image)

 

In image-test-B - Photoshop is set to soft proof using 'Monitor RGB' as the proofing color space. It matches FastStone and how the client and our other machines see the image.

 

Questions:

1. How does my iPhone and iPad display the image correctly as I see in Photoshop with my color profile added, but my clients iPhone show as the over saturated image that FastStone viewer shows?

 

2. For images destined for web-use - should i just abandon my color profile/monitor profile?!?!

 

Thank you all for your help and apologies in advance for the lengthy post.

 

Regards,

Blake

 

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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As follow up to my Question #2 below:

 

1. What's the point of the image appearing correct on our main design screen, if it isn't for all external parties? There's nothing like having an image you're fairly certain is colour correct, but having everyone telling you it's a completely different colour.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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You cannot control how others see your images, even with color management. Without, impossible. You can't control how they calibrate and profile their display which affects the previews, you can't ensure they are using color-managed applications. Using sRGB alone doesn't fix this issue. If everyone calibrated and profiled their displays (regularly for devices that drift), identically, used the same software at the same zoom ratio (ideally 1:1 or greater), then they would all match. 

See:

sRGB urban legend & myths Part 2

In this 17 minute video, I'll discuss some more sRGB misinformation and cover:

When to use sRGB and what to expect on the web and mobile devices

How sRGB doesn't insure a visual match without color management, how to check

The downsides of an all sRGB workflow

sRGB's color gamut vs. "professional" output devices

The future of sRGB and wide gamut display technology Photo print labs that demand sRGB for output

High resolution: http://digitaldog.net/files/sRGBMythsPart2.mp4

Low resolution on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyvVUL1gWVs

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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LEGEND ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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This sounds completely correct IF the monitor you are using is a wide gamut monitor. 

If you use a non-colour managed app (like Paint) on a wide gamut monitor, sRGB will be heavily saturated; this is how it is supposed to work. Wide gamut monitors are suitable ONLY for design work with colour managed apps, not as general monitors for other apps (unless you don't care about colour!)

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Thanks for your prompt reply - I completely understand the wide gamut point you've raised. What is curious to me is:

 

We can replicate the same result on normal gamut screens here in the studio. IE. If we take a sRGB tagged image that looks correct on our design monitor and move it to one of our older normal gamut 1080p screens, we get the over saturated look across all apps.

 

Similarly - if our client is using wide gamut monitors, I would still expect at least one of their apps they tested to show the image correctly? But even their photoshop is showing the over saturated image...

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Community Expert ,
Jan 15, 2022 Jan 15, 2022

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The iPhone OS is color managed, the displays (wide gamut) are all factory calibrated. 

Author “Color Management for Photographers" & "Photoshop CC Color Management/pluralsight"

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Community Expert ,
Jan 19, 2022 Jan 19, 2022

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Yep, that’s how its looking to me too, colour managed, display P3 colourspace. 

 


neil barstow, colourmanagement net :: adobe forum volunteer

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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quote

7. Similarly, if i soft proof in Photoshop to 'Monitor RGB' I also get the same over saturated look and feel


By @blakeimage

 

And that, right there, is the smoking gun.

 

Proof to Monitor RGB disables all color management in Photoshop. Anything that displays this way is not color managed. That's your fixed point that you can work from. If it looks like that, it's wrong.

 

I also suspect you may have untagged images (no color profile) in the mix here. Are you using Export / Save For Web? Then you must remember to check "embed color profile". It's unchecked by default! (don't get me started on the wisdom of that default).

 

In SFW you also need to set Preview to "Use Document Profile". The default is Monitor Color, which, that's right, disables color management.

 

Your color settings in Photoshop aren't really important, as long as you have policies set to "Preserve Embedded Profiles". That's the only critical setting here.  With this set, the embedded document profile will always override your working space. But there has to be a profile.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Thanks for the reply D Fosse, appreciate your help here.

 

Completely understand the fact that Monitor RGB disables color management. I guess what i'm trying to understand is - if I'm color correcting an image on our design workstation, but the client continues to argue the point that the colors are incorrect - what on earth are you supposed to do to please all systems?

 

The issue is apparent regardless of using Save As, Export As, Quick Export or SFW. It is also apparent regarless of converting to sRGB, embedding the color profile, or any combination of those.

 

If it was merely an issue of a client viewing a file in a program that has unmanaged color, then I would understand. The problem is - the over saturated images are appearing in;

 

1) Non wide gamut / normal gamut screens in both color managed software AND un managed software (in these cases, the image appears the same between both)

 

So I guess my original question is - if my sRGB images that i'm exporting (with embedded srgb ICC profiles) are not displaying correctly for my clients (on both normal and wide gamut screens, in both managed and non-color managed applications) - then what is the point of me having a monitor profile?! 

 

Maybe i've missed something here, but it's causing an unbelievable headache.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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One more on this, and one to scratch your head at.

I did try arguing the point that regarding color managed software vs unmanaged software. However, when the client compared their iPhone to my iPhone (which is the same model) and the saturated image appears on their phone but not mine. I was unable to provide any answer.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Let's not muddy the waters too much and keep phones out of it. That's a whole other can of worms.

 

Sticking to standard desktop systems, let's break it down. Here's a simple color management checklist. If you can tick off these three items, the image has to display correctly by definition. Then it doesn't matter what type of monitor you are using. The question is of course whether all the conditions are properly met:

  • the image has an embedded profile, and it's the correct one
  • you have a valid and accurate monitor profile set up at system level
  • you are viewing the image in a color managed application that correctly converts from one into the other

 

Normally, color management works very reliably out of the box. There isn't really much you need to do, except run monitor calibration/profiling. Bugs happen though, although rarely. One that has been particularly hard to untangle is that sometimes, the wrong monitor profile is used in a multi-display setup. This hits very few people and I have no idea if that applies here.

 

But for a start, go through the list. If it still doesn't work right, there's a bug somewhere. Mind you, that could well be in the Spyder software. Don't assume it's working flawlessly. Go over every setting.

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 15, 2022 Jan 15, 2022

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Thanks for your reply. I really appreciate the advice.

The fact that the images appear correct only on my screen and my iPhone is what is puzzling.

The same image viewed as an embedded JPG on different machines is the same over saturated look on BOTH coloured managed applications and non colour managed machines. I can’t help but think that photoshop is failing to embed the srgb profile correctly (even tho when I open in photoshop it is infact tagged with srgb) or - my monitor calibration is so far off the mark what I’m seeing is actually incorrect?

I have tried calibrating with windows, a generic profile through ttfcentral and with the spyder and the results are the same.

I would really love if someone could take a look at the problematic JPG and give me some peace of mind… really not sure where to go from here.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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"..........FastStone Image Viewer with CMS turned ON but Auto-detect Monitor Profile turned off......"

That will ignore the monitor profile and display oversaturated on a machine with a wide gamut monitor.

 

Three things I would check:

1. Are you sure that the images you are forwarding to the client have both been converted to sRGB and have the sRGB colour profile embedded?

 

2. If you are sure about 1, then is the clients machine viewing with a colour managed application, many viwers are not, and with a monitor profile that matches their actual monitor (that is especially important with a wide gamut monitor which is more and more common these days)

3. Are either of you using Windows 11 ( I suspect you are not but your client may be)? There is a known bug in Windows 11 which results in some applications (including Photoshop) being unable to pick up the correct monitor profile from the operating system. Microsoft are aware and a fix is in the Preview version but not yet in the wider release.

 

Dave

 

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Hi Dave,

 

Thanks for chiming in. I'll answer your questions below:

 

1) I have sent the client a mixture of images. Untagged RGB, sRGB assigned profiles and images that have been converted and have the sRGB profiles embedded. The issue is the same.

 

2) The client is viewing a mixture of managed and unmanaged applications. I have had them test on Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Photoshop and the standard MACOS imaging preview tool. The results are the same. They are NOT using a profile that matches their actual monitor. 

 

3) No Windows 11... yet for either.

 

The thing is - if i disable my monitor profile. My colours match exactly what they are seeing. This is further confirmed by soft proofing with Monitor RGB, So, theoretically, if i was to edit these images to make them appear as they should without any color management from a monitor profile - the customer would be happy BUT from a color accuracy perspective - they would be inaccurate. Is that hypothesis correct?

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Only send tagged images. Untagged is a recipe for inaccuracy.

 

Your theory would only be correct if the two monitors had the same inaccuracies. Untagged images might display close to yours  on their incorrect system but will look different again on a third system. Walk into a TV store and see the same TV show in many different colours. That is what colour management sets out to resolve. Without colour management though there is no guarantee that both your monitors will display the same inaccuracies. So one system might look blue another green ...etc They are also guaranteed to print incorrectly if sent to a printer.

It sounds like your client's colour management chain is broken - possibly through their use of an inaccurate monitor profile.

 

Dave

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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The frustrating part here Dave - is I can replicate the issue across 2 of our other design machines that do not have monitor calibration. One of which has a wide gamut display, the other that has a normal gamut display

 

The variation is more noticable with teals/greens/purples.

 

So at this point, I guess i'm scratching my head at the point of using a monitor profile to provide accurate colours, if my clients and other machines are seeing something completely different (ultimately making it look as though i'm delivering finished files with inaccurate colours which doesnt reflect well on our reputation).

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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The idea of using a correctly set up and profiled system is that it will look correct on any other another correctly set up and profiled system. Send it to me and it will look right. Send it to a print house it will print correctly (assuming they also use colour management.

If you send an image to someone who does not care enough about colour to use colour management it will look incorrect on their system as will every other image they open. Trying to match your image to their system is a fruitless excercise. When they change PCs the image will change again.

 

Dave

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LEGEND ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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There is one point not yet raised, I think... how does the file get from you to the client? And to the client's phone? And between computers? There is at least the potential that something in the process is changing the colour values, the profile, or both. For example, Whatsapp will recompress JPEG files and damages quality.

 

One simple test you can do is have the client send BACK a photo direct from their phone. See if it is the same colour, and exactly the same size (on disk).

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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We traditionally use Dropbox for file sharing however in this troubleshooting instance, we tried direct email via Outlook AND Gmail.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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"If the majority of my work is for web - should i just kill the monitor profile?!"

definitely NOT. There's something amiss here, therecvare various versions of sRGB, I wonder if you're using a corrupted one. 

Sending sRGB with ICC embedded is all you can do. 

The symptoms you're reporting on client screens is often the result of a non colour managed application [like Windows photos] being used on a wide gamut display.

Maybe have them test the colourmanagement in their web browsers using these tests

http://perberntsen.com/misc/technical/colorprofiles.php

https://cameratico.com/tools/web-browser-color-management-test/

 

I wonder, could your display calibration be wacked? Try open this test image, does it look natural? 

how about for your clients?

https://www.colourmanagement.net/downloads/CMnet_Pixl_AdobeRGB_testimage05

 

here's a DCI-P3 version for phone viewing: 

https://tinyurl.com/mobiletestimage-jpg

 

 

By the way, you can't realistically hold up the product to the screen for comparison, unless you have a light booth. IF the room lighting is strong enough for product viewing then its way too bright for viewing a screen.

 

I hope this helps
neil barstow, colourmanagement net :: adobe forum volunteer
google me "neil barstow colourmanagement" for lots of free articles on colour management
[please only use the blue reply button at the top of the page, this maintains the original thread title and chronological order of posts]

 

https://cameratico.com/tools/web-browser-color-management-test/

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Community Beginner ,
Jan 14, 2022 Jan 14, 2022

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Thanks for all of the replies.

 

I can't help but wonder if the problem is my monitor and/or associated profile. It seems to be the ugly duckling in the middle here as I don't have any other 'calibrated' screens to test against (other than my iPhone which I know isn't calibrated, but looks almost identical to what i'm seeing).

 

The over saturated image appears the same on normal gamut screens, wide gamut screens and applications that DO and DO NOT color manage color also show the same over saturated image.

 

Are there any settings in NVIDIA control panel that can be causing issues??

 

I've attached the file below - it would be so great if someone could take a look on their 'colour accurate screen' and somehow confirm for me what i'm seeing is or is not correct...

 

The file labelled -clientadjust is the one the client had their designer edit and send back to me claiming the colour is correct on their screen. The other file is the file we sent through that looks accurate on our screen.

 

If I open up the -clientadjust file in photoshop here, photoshop dulls down the colours. I need to use soft proofing to Monitor RGB to replicate the result the client is seeing.

 

 

  

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Community Expert ,
Jan 15, 2022 Jan 15, 2022

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Unfortunately, this thread is rapidly disintegrating into several separate nested sub-threads, so we lose the chronology and overview. That's not your fault, blakeimage, but us and the forum software. 😉

 

What makes this difficult to make sense of, is that Photoshop does it right. From all your descriptions, Photoshop is apparently using the monitor profile, and using it correctly.

 

So we're left to explain why other applications, and other systems, aren't. All we can say is that somewhere outside Photoshop, the color management chain is breaking. If this is a wide gamut monitor, "oversaturated" is wrong and "desaturated" is right.

 

One thing you can do is go over the Spyder settings. Make sure it's making matrix-based profiles, not LUT (table) based, and version 2, not version 4. Some color managed applications have problems with LUT and/or v4.

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Community Expert ,
Jan 15, 2022 Jan 15, 2022

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I do have an unequivocal solution for this uncertainty

Have you ever wondered how to KNOW whether your screen [or printer] is ACCURATE and not just 'pleasing'?
If so please check this out: http://www.colourmanagement.net/products/icc-profile-verification-kit

 

alternatively, meanwhile:

Try this: open this image on your iPhone in Safari 

https://tinyurl.com/mobiletestimage-jpg

open this image on your computer in Photoshop

https://www.colourmanagement.net/downloads/CMnet_Pixl_AdobeRGB_testimage05.zip

when I do that, I see good match

 

perhaps have your client do the same thing?

 

check the browsers for colour management compliance using this:

https://cameratico.com/tools/web-browser-color-management-test/

 

I hope this helps
neil barstow, colourmanagement net :: adobe forum volunteer
google me "neil barstow colourmanagement" for lots of free articles on colour management

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Community Expert ,
Jan 15, 2022 Jan 15, 2022

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"I've attached the file below - it would be so great if someone could take a look on their 'colour accurate screen' and somehow confirm for me what i'm seeing is or is not correct...

 

The file labelled -clientadjust is the one the client had their designer edit and send back to me claiming the colour is correct on their screen. The other file is the file we sent through that looks accurate on our screen.

 

If I open up the -clientadjust file in photoshop here, photoshop dulls down the colours. I need to use soft proofing to Monitor RGB to replicate the result the client is seeing."

sorry but I don't understand what you are asking us to do with those images, if you make a step by step instruction I'll try it. Problem is we don't know what you are expecting to see

 

I hope this helps
neil barstow, colourmanagement net :: adobe forum volunteer
google me "neil barstow colourmanagement" for lots of free articles on colour management

 

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Community Expert ,
Jan 15, 2022 Jan 15, 2022

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The two images you attached do not match your description at all.

Neither is labelled as "clientadjust" file and neither is in the sRGB colour space.

 

The one labelled fj-caps-edits-6701.jpg is tagged with the Adobe 1998 colour space not sRGB. It will display correctly on a colour managed system. On a non colour managed system/application it will apear undersaturated on a standard screen or close to normally saturated, but with different colour balance, on a wide gamut screen.

 

The second, labelled fj-caps-edit-6701-darker+teal.png  is not tagged with an embedded profile at all - so is an untagged image. Assigning the correct profile is down to pure guesswork. Assigning sRGB it looks duller than the other image , assigning Adobe RGB looks closer but still not the same. This just proves the issue with working with untagged images and from non colour managed systems. You just cannot rely on accurate colour.

 

Dave

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