This article is for people who don't use Adobe Camera Raw:
- Jpeg shooters who open their files directly into Elements (ie not via ACR)
- Raw or Jpeg shooters who initially process their files in another raw program (eg Lightroom), then bring the pixel files into Elements
Color Settings are accessed via the Edit menu. When you open it, you're presented with four options:
Let's get something out of the way right at the start - NEVER use "No Color Management". It's awful. There's no place for it in any modern workflow.
So that leaves three genuine options to choose from:
- "Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens"
- "Always Optimize for Printing"
- "Allow Me to Choose"
(If you're still grappling with the whole colour space thing, I've written a few bits and pieces:
- Choosing the right colour space for your workflow
- An analogy about colour spaces
- A clarification about print labs
- Check your monitor's gamut
So, when do the Color Settings really matter? Only in two situations, and they're not very common.
The first situation is when you create a new blank image. The "Printing" setting automatically creates an Adobe RGB file; while the "Computer Screens" and "Allow Me" settings give you sRGB.
So, you need to consider - for what purpose will you be making new blank documents? Usually it's to make collages or storyboards, and usually you will be printing them. So does that mean you should choose the "Printing" setting? No, not necessarily. Despite Adobe's persistent myths in this regard, Adobe RGB definitely isn't the standard colour space for printing. The majority of labs print sRGB. You should check with your own lab about this, to make your decision.
If you're making storyboards or banners for your website, they'll need to be sRGB. If you use the "Printing" setting, which works in Adobe RGB, make sure you remember to convert the profile before saving, or save using the "Save for web" function which has an automatic sRGB conversion option. Or else, choose the "Computer Screens" option so you don't have to worry.
The second situation is when you open an image without a profile embedded. The "Computer Screens" option gives it the sRGB profile; the "Printing" option gives it the Adobe RGB profile; and the "Allow Me to Choose" option ... can you guess? ... allows you to choose.
(This is, in fact, the only circumstance I'm aware of when the "Allow Me to Choose" setting actually allows you to choose anything. What a beat-up!)
You might think that the ability to choose a profile for an untagged image would be handy, but in truth, it's utterly useless. For one thing, you don't get to see the image in order to make the choice, so it's complete guesswork. And secondly, on the increasingly rare occasion when you encounter an untagged image, I can give an almost iron-clad guarantee that it's meant to be sRGB. Pros and enthusiasts who work in other colour spaces never let their images become untagged.
Ok, so after all of that, what am I telling you? Well, "No Color Management" is evil and should be avoided. "Ask Me to Choose" is kind of silly, and can also be ignored.
It comes down to a choice between "Optimize Color for Computer Screens", which gives you an sRGB workflow suitable for web and most printing; or the misleadingly-named "Optimize for Printing", which gives you an Adobe RGB workflow suitable for only some printing.
So, my advice is to check with your lab, and base your decision on their requirements.
The next post will discuss Color Settings for those using Adobe Camera Raw in their workflow.