Should I use "sRGB mode" on my computer screen?

  • I recently acquired the ASUS PA248Q screen for photo processing (and everyday use and gaming: I have just that one display). This display offers a "sRGB" mode.

    Right now the screen is configured to use the "standard mode", should I use the "sRGB mode" instead?

    I see that the colors are not exactly the same between the 2 modes, but which one is the best? If that's sRGB, why isn't it enabled by default?

    Am I supposed to use it only for specific situations?

    sRGB is the standard for the web — if you are creating content for web display, then sRGB is best, until you get a hardware calibrator.

  • Itai

    Itai Correct answer

    9 years ago

    Normally you would use sRGB mode. It is the most common denominator. Keep in mind that this mode is not calibrated, so your sRGB colors will be different from other sRGB colors. They should be closer.

    Once in sRGB mode your monitor may not be able to show colors which are outside of sRGB color-space which is why sRGB is not the default mode. The truly odd thing is that those particular colors are kind of random until you calibrate your display!

    If you do calibrate your display, you can revert back to the default mode (called Native on some monitors) and then all color-management-aware application will be able to:

    1. Show colors outside of sRGB with good accuracy.
    2. Show sRGB colors with good accuracy.

    However, non color-managed applications will still show colors wrong and they will be MORE wrong in default mode than in sRGB mode. So which one to use in the end will depend on what non color-managed applications you use to look at images. This may include your web-browser depending on which one and version you use.

    I can only add that non-color-managed applications include those that *are* (party) color-managed, but manage color incorrectly, or do not take things like 3D LUTprofiles, or certain ICC profile versions like 4.x into account

    Isn't the last statement incorrect about non colour-managed applications showing the wrong colours? I think the operating system considers non-colour managed applications to be plain sRGB, no? So like with the example of a non colour managed web-browser (which don't exist anymore BTW): everything it shows (including the user interface) will be sRGB. Any graphics will show correctly, except for pictures that have a colour profile the browser does not support.

    @Ralph - That may have changed or depend on the OS. At the time, non color-managed were not assumed to be in any color space and so were used as untranslated color values. So if the monitor is not in sRGB mode while the files were intended to, they will look quite wrong. A good test would be to open a file in AdobeRGB color-space that most digital cameras and produce and open it in a non-color-managed application.

    I'm not entirely sure it works the way I say as I have no display profile installed and no wide gamut monitor, but you're right of course that if an applications' output is not translated it will look very wrong on a wide gamut monitor. The thing is there are two factors in play if the task is to display an image file. One is application support for displaying ("output") colours according to the installed system (ICC) profile. The second is whether an application supports reading (ICC) profiles from a file ("input") and interpreting them correctly.

    The former application can never correctly display/output images correctly when it doesn't display according to the system profile, whether or not it interprets the data it has correctly. And vice versa, it cannot correctly output pictures on the screen from a file if it cannot interpret them correctly based on the profile in the first place. Kindly let me know if I understood it wrong!

    I looked a bit further into how the OS handles non-colour managed applications (on Windows 10 at least). It appears that indeed non-colour managed applications just output the colours as though they are in the native colour space of the monitor on which they are displayed. (I had the opportunity to use a wide gamut monitor to test this. Colours are way over-saturated in non-colour managed applications.) This means your answer is spot on!

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM