Does anybody know how Lightroom Mobile handles color space?

Discussion in 'Image Processing' started by GarethB, Sep 26, 2016.

  1. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2016
    Hey guys,

    I'm a Lightroom Mobile only user for my personal stuff, and I'm just wondering if anybody knows what colorspace the app uses both in editing and on export?

  2. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I'm not certain but I use LR CC on the desktop and you're supposed to be able to use LR Mobile in conjunction with LR on the desktop so I would imagine that the way LR Mobile treats colour space is going to be the same as it does in the desktop version. If it didn't do that, you wouldn't able to be able to import your LR Mobile editing data into LR desktop versions and continue working on the image without making adjustments to colour space when you import to the desktop.

    RAW files don't have a colour space but OOC image files such as JPEGs do have a colour space. On the desktop LR uses the colour space of the image file if you are editing an image file like an OOC JPEG because the colour space has been set in those files. LR has to use a colour space for display of RAW files on the screen while you are editing but all of the editing processes are conducted on the actual colour data in the RAW file and that data does not have a defined colour space. When you export an image to file or a printer you define the colour space such as sRGB or Adobe RGB for the export and the image is then converted to your chosen image format (JPEG, TIFF, whatever) in your chosen colour space. You also have the option of soft proofing on the desktop and I don't know whether that option is available in LR Mobile but you can choose your final colour space in the soft proofing window and see which areas of the image are out of gamut for your display and also for your chosen export colour space and you can then use that information to adjust your editing to minimise out of gamut issues if you wish. In soft proofing you can also choose whether to use perceptual or relative intent and those options determine the way the conversion to your selected final colour space treats out of gamut colours.

    The reason for working that way is that decisions you make on things like white balance, saturation, and aspects affecting luminance not only alter the range of colours that are going to be in the final image on export but also affect bit depth which alters the size of the steps in gradation in colour. Working in the widest colour space available up until export ensures that you've got the most colour information available at the time you lock the colour space in at export. Making your colour space decision before you start editing limits the range of colours available to you while you edit and can result in problems like banding in the final image. That's one of the reasons why it's better to work with a RAW file rather than an OOC JPEG—JPEGs use an 8 bit format which makes banding more likely to occur as a result of editing while RAW files use 14 bit or more for colour data. The possibility of introducing such problems is minimised by leaving the decisions about colour space and image format until the image is converted to an image file format on export.

    LR Mobile wouldn't be a particularly useful tool for photographers working with RAW files if it used a specific colour space in the editing process. The result of doing that could make some of your editing decisions inappropriate when you synchronised your work back to the desktop application and could also create problems if you then chose to export the image to a file or printer in a different colour space to the one in which the editing decisions had been made.
  3. rsovitzky

    rsovitzky Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 27, 2014
    Elm Grove WI
    I have my EM1 set to adobergb color space. When I open an ORF in LRM on my iPad Pro 9.7, it is wonderful. The wider color gamut is very noticeable.
  4. GarethB

    GarethB Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2016
    You've got the nice new screen! My 12" iPad Pro isn't as swish, I'm not really sure if it will be as noticeable for me.
  5. Bruce McL

    Bruce McL Mu-43 Veteran

    I don’t think this is true. On the Mac and PC in Develop mode, Lightroom uses a working profile on all photos, RAW and JPEG included. The working profile is ProPhoto RGB. Some info at

    How to manage color in Lightroom

    Common questions asked about Color in Lightroom CC

    Note that changes made in develop mode are saved as notations in a text file, not as actual changes to the original RAW or JPEG file. Also, you never really see the image in ProPhoto RGB. What you see on screen is determined by the color profile for your display.

    I believe that iPhones and iPads running iOS 10 have color management and they have a color profile for their display. I think iOS 10 handles color as well as OS X does, and in the same way. They just hide it from the user in iOS. I don’t see any reason why Adobe would change the workspace on iOS from ProPhoto RGB to something else.
  6. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    The colour space settings on the camera are only applied to JPEG output, not to RAW files. Try putting your camera on a tripod so you can keep identical framing and take 2 shots using RAW output, one with the colour space set to sRGB and the other with it set to Adobe RGB. Then open the files in your processing software. The results should be identical.
  7. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia

    I'll stand by my comment which was: " LR has to use a colour space for display of RAW files on the screen while you are editing but all of the editing processes are conducted on the actual colour data in the RAW file and that data does not have a defined colour space."

    To quote from one of your links (the other says the same thing) : "In the Develop module, by default Lightroom displays previews using the ProPhoto RGB color space. ProPhoto RGB contains all of the colors that digital cameras can capture, making it an excellent choice for editing images."

    Note that that statement says that LR uses ProPhoto RGB for preview displays and I did say that LR uses a colour space for display of files on screen during editing. Note also that Adobe says that ProPhoto RGB contains all of the colours that digital cameras can capture which means that the editing can be conducted on the actual RAW file data since that data does not have to be modified to fit within the ProPhoto RGB colour space. My understanding is that ProPhoto RGB is used for display purposes but has no effect on the actual editing processes.

    I also don't think it's quite right to say that we never see the image in ProPhoto RGB. it's always displayed using the display's own profile as you say but if you open a file which uses the sRGB space or Adobe RGB space those files will also be displayed using the same display profile and if your display is capable of reproducing a wider colour gamut than sRGB you should be able to see a difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB. If your display can display more than Adobe RGB (are there any such displays?) you may also be able to see a difference between the ProPhoto RGB preview and an Adobe RGB rendering. I also think that I'm getting close to making a semantic point here but the fact that an image in a particular colour space is rendered using a display profile doesn't mean that we aren't seeing an image in a particular colour space. It does mean that how accurately the image colour space is rendered is going to be determined by the display profile.

    Ultimately I don't think the difference in our comments about the colour space LR uses for editing amount to a actual difference in what's going on when the numbers get crunched. They would if the ProPhoto RGB colour space could not contain all of the colours that the camera can capture but it doesn't, at least as present. Until then I don't think there's a practical difference arising from our slightly different statements. Should the day come, and it probably will, where cameras can capture more colours than ProPhoto RGB can contain we will certainly be entitled to concerns about whether the editing operations, as well as the display of previews, are conducted in ProPhoto RGB or using the unmodified Raw file data but that day hasn't come yet.
  8. rsovitzky

    rsovitzky Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 27, 2014
    Elm Grove WI
    But the observation is opening the same file on two devices, one wide-gamut, one 'normal', is noticeably 'better color'. Remember, the software is 'generating a JPG so to speak, for the display.
  9. Bruce McL

    Bruce McL Mu-43 Veteran

    I disagree. The work of Lightroom is done in ProPhoto RGB. Once the Camera Profile is read and applied, the image is effectively in the ProPhoto RGB color space. Changes made to a file are made in the ProPhoto RGB color space. All of the text info about changes that Lightroom keeps assume a ProPhoto RGB workspace for those changes to occur in. Using ProPhoto RGB as a working profile assures that the develop controls work the same way on images from different cameras, which is why Adobe does it that way.

    What we see on the screen is what the display, along with the display profile, allows us to see. It can be less than that, but it cannot be more.

    “Viewing a ProPhoto RGB image on a P3 display” is not the same thing as, “seeing the image in ProPhoto RGB.” There are no displays that allow us to see the entire ProPhoto color gamut. There never will be, because some of the gamut is outside the range of human vision.
  10. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia

    I think we're trying to say the same thing, just in different ways. You're absolutely right to say that "What we see on the screen is what the display, along with the display profile, allows us to see." and I said that the image was always displayed using the display's profile and that profile does not change if the colour space of the image data changes. BUT, and the point I was making which you did not address, is that there are differences in the colours for which data is contained in the file if you compare files for the same image which have been created in different colour spaces, and those differences at the data level can be rendered differently by the display. There are colour space differences which can be seen on screen even though the display can only show us what the display and its profile allow us to see.

    We may never see the colours in the colour space exactly because we can only see what the display and profile allow us to see but that does not mean that we can't see differences which are due to the colour space choice. If we could not do so we would not see any differences between an image with sRGB data and an image with Adobe RGB data on a monitor which can render more than the sRGB colour space.

    But this debate is not what the thread was about. The thread was about what colour space LR Mobile uses for editing and for export. The simple answer to that is that it uses a much wider space for editing than it does on export. You don't get to choose the colour space for editing, you do get to choose the colour space for export. The colour space used for editing is more than sufficiently larger than the colour spaces we export files in to ensure that the colour space used for editing allows the full range of colours of the colour space we choose for export can be used to best effect.
  11. m4/3boy

    m4/3boy Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 21, 2013
    The color space of Lightroom is definitely ProPhoto RGB so BruceMcL is absolutely correct.
  12. dweller

    dweller Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 14, 2012
    London, UK
    I'll add a reply to this thread just to show my experience with lightroom and the mobile app.

    I usually take jpegs in adobeRGB space set in the camera.
    If I upload them directly to the web, the colour will look all wrong.
    So I generally import them to Lightroom and export as sRGB.
    The rich colour of the adobeRGB is mostly retained and emulated in the sRGB outputted from LR.

    Now yesterday I decided to export some photos on the move using image app.
    I uploaded them to flickr.
    Here is an example.
    30191756030_fe1301a77f_z.jpg Roses in Waterloo Park. Transferred to my phone via Panasonic image app. by M King, on Flickr

    Now I know that this looks wrong on the internet so I thought how can I convert the color space on my phone?
    I downloaded the lightroom app.
    As soon as I imported the photo into the mobile app it showed the full correct colour.
    All I had to do was export that photo and I had a properly corrected jpeg to export to the web.
    See the example here.
    Exact same photo as above but simply imported and exported from lightroom mobile.
    30460393836_db7566d6b5_z.jpg adobe rgb converted to srgb by M King, on Flickr

    the strange thing is I kind of prefer the first one in this case as it looks closer to how the flower looked.
    You can't win sometimes ;-)

    I should have done a full test using the in camera sRGB setting to compare.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
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