Color management

Heads-up: this post is Mac-specific.

I was very happy with Snow Leopard and the following 10.6.2 update regarding color management under OS X.
Gamma was corrected to 2.2 (standard in other systems for a long time) and color-management was revamped, offering support for wide-gamut monitors like mine — the HP LP2475W.

The issue with wide-gamut panels is that, as implied by the name, it renders a wider gamut (~ range of colors) and applications must be instructed to how they render colors.

I got my monitor calibrated with a TFT Central’s ICC profile and I got to admit it’s pretty reliable considering the prints I’ve done.

The problem is not prints though, it’s soft-proofing and on-screen visualization.
Of course applications like Photoshop and Illustrator and color-managed and will render colors spot on, but some browsers will not.
Firefox, for instance, has fantastic and flexible color-management features; it allows you to choose whether to manage all page elements (images, CSS, etc.), manage only ICC-embedded images, don’t manage any of these and even allows you to specify you monitor color profile for more accurate results.

Color Management in Firefox

Safari (and Chrome) on the other hand has its color management broken, as it reverts any untagged content to the default RGB. This is a huge problem on wide gamut monitors as they’ll render over saturated colors, almost neon-like, since they have a much wider range of colors (particularly reds and blues). An easy fix for this would be to revert at least to sRGB.
Another “fix” would be that everyone correctly tags their files with some color profile — preferably sRGB. This is easily done while saving a JPEG in Photoshop, by ticking the option to embed a color profile (on by default in most cases anyway).

Embed Color Profile

Nevertheless, Apple should follow Mozilla’s steps and see what they did with Firefox 3.6. It manages all content (whether it’s images or CSS colors) and reverts everything to the ICC monitor profile you’ve set on your preferences.

If you don’t use a wide-gamut monitor you should be fine and can even ignore most of this post, but it’s always good to know how things work.

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