I have been asked this question on many occasions and realized that color space and color management are two difficult subjects to get your head around. So I will try to answer many of those hot questions in a Q&A-style format. We will focus mainly on color spaces in this blog post.
The following assumes that you know what a color space is therefore so we will dive right into it:
Q: Which color space should I use?
A: If you are serious about your photography, convert your files into either AdobeRGB or even better ProPhoto RGB (it is the widest color space available. I religiously convert my raw files into ProPhoto RGB. No exceptions.
Q: Which color space should my camera be set to?
A: If you have a high end model, there are two choices: sRGB or Adobe RGB. The simple answer is: If you shoot RAW, it does not matter.
Set it to either one, a RAW file receives its color space after it has been exported and been converted into the destination file format (tif, psd,…). In case you shoot jpg (which I hope you don’t – more on this another time) please choose Adobe RGB. It is the wider color space of the two.
Q: Which color space does LR or Bridge use?
A: None. LR and BR are RAW converters, they assign color spaces upon exporting the RAW files, therefore they don’t work in a particular color space themselves.
Q: Which color space do I need to use for the web?
A: Many people do not know that; you need to convert into sRGB for web presentation. If you work in photoshop you do not need to convert to sRGB right before you save the file, if you use “save for web”, it converts the photo to sRGB for you automatically.
Q: Which color space should I set up in photoshop?
A: Check which colour space you currently work in PS under Edit > Colour Settings and assign the one you decide to work in from now on and save it.
Say for print you want to use one of the ICC profiles of the printer/paper combination that you chose as your output color space.
Or if you export it into photoshop you set your color space in the export section of LR. Make sure your color space in photoshop is set to the same color space that you assign to the photo, so that you do not get mismatches. It makes things unnecessarily more complicated.
Q: Which color space do I use for printing?
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A: The colour space you will work in is wider than what your printer can print. You assign an ICC profile (downloadable on the respective website of the paper manufacturer) when you softproof (that term will have to be content of a future blog post) your image straight before you print and on the print screen of your printer dialog box. You will also have to choose between relative and perceptual (forget the other two) rendering intend. Relative and Perceptual redering intent are two different ways to compress the wider colour space of your monitor (the one that you assigned in photoshop for example) into the smaller colour space of your printer, just see which one you like better – it is depending on the photo, so you need to make this choice on a per print basis, just try both and see which one makes you more happy.
So now you know that the colour space that you print in is sort of out of your hands, it depends on the paper and should be selected in regards to which paper you use. No other one. You select the ICC profile in the printer dialog.
The mismatch only happens when you have setup PS with a different colour space than the file that you are trying to import.