Monitor Color Space Support


Today’s Question: For printing is it better to use a monitor that supports Adobe RGB versus sRGB?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, in general it is best to use a monitor that supports the Adobe RGB color space rather than just the sRGB color space. In other words, when it comes to printing photos, it is best to optimize those photos using a display with the widest color gamut possible.

More Detail: In many cases you can choose which color space you want to work in when optimizing a photo. For example, in Photoshop you might choose to use sRGB, Adobe RGB, or ProPhoto RGB as the working color space.

Just because you are working in a wide-gamut color space, however, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to see all of the possible colors on your monitor display. Many monitor displays only support the sRGB color space, which is the narrowest of the three color spaces noted above.

If you will only be sharing your photos online or through other digital output, then of course it is perfectly fine to work in the sRGB color space. And, in fact, with many commercial print workflows the sRGB color space is preferred. So it is a good idea to check with your printer if you’ll be using a commercial print service, to make sure which color space is recommended.

If you’ll be printing your photos yourself, or using a commercial printer who recommends the Adobe RGB color space, it is generally best to edit the photos in the Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB color space. In that case it can be helpful to ensure your monitor display is capable of supporting the widest color gamut possible.

The top monitor displays today are capable of supporting the full Adobe RGB color space, and that will generally be reflected in the specifications for those monitors. I do recommend considering this as a “must have” feature if you are focused on printing your photos and want the best preview of the image while working to optimize a photo before printing.