Color Critical Applications and Projectors

Just a few years ago, there was no standard for interpreting colors on computers, monitors, printers, projectors, digital cameras and other peripherals. The lack of standardization created problems for professionals who rely on accurate color such as advertisers, photographers, biologists, architects, and more. So the stage was set to determine a standard ‘color space’ which would allow display devices and computers to see and display colors uniformly.

sRGB on and off

What is a color space?

A color space is a model for representing color numerically in terms of three or more coordinates. In order for color to be reproduced predictably from one device to another, each device (projector, printer, monitor, etc.) has to be responsible for accurately recreating color, and for matching the six parameters of color. The six different parameters which define every color are: luminance, hue, color saturation, and RGB (red, green, and blue) values. In order to define a standard color space for all devices, Microsoft worked with top manufacturers of the most commonly used devices. The standard color space they developed is known as sRGB.

What is sRGB?

SRGB was developed in October 1999 and defined with specifications compliant to the International Color Consortium’s – IEC 61966-2-1 – color standard. It is a system of color spaces that determines tone, saturation, and brightness. This enables computer operating systems to easily decode and translate color expression into actual color displays. Testing methods and evaluation criteria for compliance of projectors were partly developed by Mitsubishi Electric with full support and endorsement from Microsoft Corporation.

Potential Drawbacks of sRGB

The sRGB standard has received some criticism from those who have worked extensively in digital photography or graphic arts because the sRGB color space is smaller than another common standard, Adobe RGB 1998. Adobe RGB is a ‘larger’ color space that allows for a wider range of colors. This standard was created to allow users access to the entire spectrum of color possible when printing. The sRGB standard, on the other hand, was designed to provide the same level of flexibility on a monitor. In fact, according to Popular Photography magazine online (www.popphoto.com), sRGB is “…ideal for images destined to be viewed on a monitor or digital projector. We’ve also found it works better when sending images to digital minilabs or to online photo processors.”

Beyond sRGB

If you find the sRGB color space limiting, you might want to consider a projector that allows for a more ‘tweakable’ color experience. Mitsubishi projectors, for example, have a feature called “Natural Color Matrix” which is a color adjustment system that allows users to adjust a wider spectrum of color. Beyond the usual RGB (red, green, blue) to include a broader YMC (Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan) adjustment, Natural Color Matrix allows each of the six colors to be individually adjusted without affecting the hues of the other spectrum colors. For example, red can be increased to appear richer and more intense without altering yellow and magenta. Natural Color Matrix