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Should You Set Your Camera to sRGB or Adobe RGB? What About ADL?

Published: 07/02/2017

Rhett in VA asks:

When shooting photos should I use Adobe RGB or sRGB?  I notice when I shoot in RAW, Lightroom automatically changes my settings I have in my camera but not in jpg. Sometimes my clients say there can be to much contrast in photos. Right now I have the camera set for sRGB and Active-D lighting on high.

First of all, since you should be delivering sRGB to your real estate clients, it works fine to set your camera to sRGB but as explained in this video and this article on the subject, if you set your camera to Adobe RGB, shoot RAW, and export sRGB from Lightroom, you can have slightly more control of color.

On Nikon Active D-Lighting (ADL), I'm not a Nikon shooter so I'm not familiar with ADL but a little research on the net indicates that ADL is not recommended when using Lightroom. My guess is that ADL is for JPG shooters that don't do any post-processing.

I think it is hard to beat setting your camera to Abobe RGB, shooting in RAW, editing in Lightroom and exporting to sRGB. That's what I do.

Larry Lohrman

6 comments on “Should You Set Your Camera to sRGB or Adobe RGB? What About ADL?”

  1. my local MLS association requires sRGB to load onto their system, in the past I didnt know this and loaded RGB and it not only distorted the images but turned them all sorts of funky colors.. i talked to their tech department and said in Light room to export sRGB and it solved the whole problem

  2. When shooting in RAW it's important to know which settings will actually impact your image and which won't. A lot of the settings only change the JPEG (or JPEG preview) and when using Lightroom (or similar) it won't matter what they were set to.

    Briefly: (1) take your three basic settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) and click the shutter > (2) camera captures RAW data > (3) RAW data is processed to produce an image.

    Most settings take place in step 3 which Lightroom ignores because it takes the data from step 2 and calculates step 3 on its own. Color profiles are applied in step 3. RAW data has no color profile.

  3. This discussion belongs in an entire color management discussion. Finishing in RGB and exporting in SRGB will not do everything you want - you will want to see how the SRGB looks before you export. The color space is different and you might not have everything you want if you don't review the images prior to export. Also, don't forget to custom white balance your camera if you are shooting RAW as well as using a color card to make sure you can adjust those tricky colors in Lightroom properly.

  4. RAW files don't have a color space, so the camera setting is not actually impacting anything (unless you're shooting JPGs, in which case color is the least of your worries).

  5. I always have my camera set for only raw, Auto color balance (this works great with my Sony 6000) and Adobe RGB(1998) only. When processing the raw files, I use PSCC 2017 only, no Lightroom. I have made actions in PS to process the images. I have never liked using LR, it's too complicated for me. The last action I use in PS is to downsize the image for RE and set the color to sRGB. Normally I can process an image from start to finish in two minutes or less, totaling about one hour for an average 25 to 30 images per house. This is less than 1/2 the time it would take without using the actions.

  6. Jerry, I think I might be totally opposite of you - I find Photoshop more clunky to use for processing RE images (with the exception of detail oriented pixel level manipulation.) I've found that I can go through an average home in 15 minutes using Lightroom Presets I've come up with for listing photos.

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