Color Management Confusion

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    I am fairly new to this game and getting more and more confused about color management. Hopefully some of you can clear some things up for me.

    I am using DisplayCAL for Windows10 with an i1Display Pro on a Dell U2720Q monitor. The profiling is towards an ICC v2 profile with 6500K temp, 120 cd/m2 and 2.2 gamma. The profile is XYZ LUT + matrix. The monitor is an 8bit + frc IPS monitor. I have put my RTX2070 Super videocard on 10 bit and set Photoshop on 30 bit in Performance – Advanced graphic card settings. Tried with 8/24 bit settings as well.

    The main confusion is this: when I have profiled my monitor, should images not look the same in every piece of software that uses color management?

    The reason why I am asking this is that when I open an image with sRGB profile in Photoshop and export that image to a PNG and set it as a background image, the colors come out more saturated on the desktop than they look inside Photoshop. Does not matter if I embed the profile or set conversion to sRGB (which the image already is, so that would be useless anyway I guess). I either have to turn down saturation down 20 points in Photoshop or as a better solution convert it to my monitor profile and export it without sRGB conversion or embedded profile to get the same colors on my desktop as within Photoshop. Using proofing in Photoshop with the calibrated monitor profile helps a lot as well.

    Now, before anyone tells me “but the Windows desktop is not color managed”. If that is true, then I do not understand why the desktop colors change when I select another profile in Windows Color Management. Does that not mean it takes note of the profile I use and manages the colors accordingly? Like I said, I am pretty new to this, so I am probably confusing some core concepts and am lacking some knowledge about this, but I cannot find any source which can explain what I am missing here in relatively simple terms. So any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks šŸ™‚

    • This topic was modified 7 months ago by Plekuz.

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    Windows desktop is kind of “partial color managed”.

    In a color profile thereĀ“s embedded vcgt (video card gamma table) information, which is loaded into the GPU.

    This is representing your greyscale, so that all steps of grey are neutral (not tinted) for every intensity.

    This works globally, so it influences everything that you see on your monitor, so e.g. desktop background image, internet browser, games,…

    Then thereĀ“s another part of the color profile describing and dealing with your monitorĀ“s gamut (your maximal color values like how strong is your reddest red).

    This part will be used by full color managed software like Photoshop but NOT by Windows desktop.

    So when comparing images using different full color manged software on your display, they all should look the same, but they will differ from Windows desktop (they only will not, if your monitor would have natural sRGB color space, but this isnĀ“t the case).

    You have to live with this, because Windows isnĀ“t fully color managed and you canĀ“t work around that.


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    Ahhhh, so there is the “gotcha” I did not get before.

    Windows desktop: gamma yes, gamut no. Never thought of it that way. Good to know.

    Thank you very much!


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    edit:Ā  shoot someone types faster than me

    The change you see on the desktop when the profile is loaded is the vclut being loaded.Ā  That can change the white point, gamma, brightness based on the settings you chose when creating the profile and they get applied globally even for applications that aren’t color manged .

    What color manged applications do is read the ICC profile that describes the how the monitor behaves and converts from the color space (gamut) that an image has to the color space of the monitor.Ā  This is what will correct the saturation and gamma if the image gamma is different from the display gamma.

    The Windows desktop isn’t color managed so while you will see some change when the profile is loaded due to the vclut it still isn’t going to show accurate colors unless the display color space is very close to the image color space.

    read this for maybe a better explanation


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    Despite someone typing faster, I really appreciate your answer as well Patrick1978. Thank you for the additional info šŸ™‚

    • This reply was modified 7 months ago by Plekuz.
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