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I’ve read several articles that recommend converting all photo color profiles from ProPhoto RGB to sRGB for the web, but these articles are several years old.

Now that JPG, PNG, and WebP formats all support embedding an ICC Profile with ProPhoto RGB, is downgrading to sRGB for web applications still recommended?

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3 Answers 3

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I'm just going for the hand-wavy simplification here…

When they start shipping browsers with profile support actually switched on by default, then it might start to become useful. All you have to contend with then is the 95% of users without a calibrated system.
Until then, it's safer to stick to sRGB for anything but high-definition artwork meant to be viewed by users with a calibrated display & knowledge of accurate profiling.
See https://www.benq.com/en-us/knowledge-center/knowledge/web-browsers-color-management.html or for more detail, https://gregbenzphotography.com/photography-tips/how-to-setup-proper-color-management-in-a-web-browser/

No-one can see full ProPhoto, P3 is about the best you'll get.

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    Good to know. It sounds like default color profile support in browsers is still years off.
    – Rip
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:08
  • Safari is fine, if your display is actually correctly calibrated to start with [which has got harder with P3 displays, but the factory profiles are not actually all that bad on new Macs & iPhones.] The big 3rd party browsers just don't seem to have got the message at all yet & ship with the most atrocious defaults, meaning clueless users with factory default over-contrasty laptops will get completely random results if a profile is not an embedded sRGB. Windows has always struggled with profiling two different displays, Macs are OK if profiled. Might as well do your work in b/w, some days;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:11
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sRGB is still the standard for the web in 2023. It's the safest way of making sure most viewers will see something resembling the original image.

Most ordinary computer users do not know about colour profiles, they don't know how to enable advanced colour management, they don't have calibrated screens, they may not even be using up-to-date browsers that support colour management, and which may not even be enabled even if the browser is up-to-date and capable of it. All of this is out of your control. These are user intiated settings. You can't force or expect others to use them. This means that if you put images with other profiles on a web page, the risk is that many (if not most) users will see them with the colours dulled.

My advice is do not do this. Output images for the web in sRGB. Don't overwrite your original - keep that with the profile you used, then you lose nothing.

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  • Thanks. I wonder if a wider gamut implementation of sRGB might happen before browsers enable color profile support by default.
    – Rip
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:12
  • If they ever changed sRGB, it wouldn't be sRGB any more, and even more people would be drowning in poor imagery. Look at the grief in video spec caused by the switch from Rec709 to Rec2020, and then Microsoft's adoption of the almost random cr*p that they call HDR.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 23, 2023 at 18:17
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Lets give a bit different answer. So the others are right profiles dont work right out of the box in browsers.

But even if they did you do not want to release pictures in ProPhoto specifically. Why? Because its so big in gamut. So by converting it to a standard 8 bit per channel image your really taking a lot of data away from the image because it is stretched so wide. 256 steps of gray is barely sufficient when its in the monitors own space. So if your going to have ProPhoto RGB then you better also have 10-16 bits of color depth per channel. The calculation can be bit different depending on your conversion intent.

ProPhoto is for originals, for far future hardware (both monitors and cameras), not for distribution. Since JPG, PNG, and WebP do not support higher bit depths it unsuitable for these for foreseeable future.

Expect situation to be the same until we get at least 2-3 generations of radically new monitor technology so update this info maybe in 10-20 years. So no new thing in horizon since the specification was made. Nothing in foreseeable future changes this.

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