Working in a photo lab, you run across all sorts of goof ups and mistakes that customers make.  I had one of my favorite photographers call me today and ask me to clarify one of the most persistent rumors that can cause bad color – color spaces.

I was told that a friend of my friend told her that she should be using AdobeRGB for her files and that sRGB was only for internet use.

talk about a half truth!

Here is the real scoop.  It is correct that you need to use sRGB if you are posting images on the internet (using AdobeRGB can cause cyan – dead looking – skin tones.)  However, you need to check with your photolab to see which color space they support.  The lab I work at will accept any color space and most departments will automatically change the color space to sRGB, but a few don’t and if your file slips by and gets printed in AdobeRGB, you will have muted colors and pale, sickly skintones.  Save yourself the trouble and find out which color space your lab (or even a particular division in the lab) uses.  As far as I know, most labs use sRGB.

What about AdobeRGB?  If you are printing on an inkjet or other printer at your studio or home, you might be better served using AdobeRGB since ink and dye based printers tend to have a wider color gamut (range of colors) than a silver halide based printer (which is used to print on photographic paper).