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Colorspace selection sRGB or Adobe RGB?
Old 10-20-2012   #1
froyd
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Colorspace selection sRGB or Adobe RGB?

I always edit my pictures for print in the Adobe RGB color space, and I don't work with RAW files, so I'm wondering if I should select Adobe RGB as the color space for my jpegs, or let the RX100 write them for sRGB and then covert later.
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Old 10-20-2012   #2
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Have your camera write them as AdobeRGB. If you start out with an sRGB file, converting it to Adobe RGB will not bring back the color gamut that was lost when the camera converted the RAW file to sRGB.

You really should seriously consider using RAW files, you will get FAR better image quality than using JPEGs, and the ability to do more editing and color correction without losing quality compared to a JPEG.
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Old 10-20-2012   #3
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What Chris said. In triplicate!
RAW files are for photos & printing. JPEGs are for the Web.

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Old 10-20-2012   #4
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I like photography simple. No RAW conversion steps for me until I graduate to a digital M.

I'm a film guy and digital is just for family snapshots (which I mostly print no more than 8x10). I use PS mainly as my printer driver, so I don't need my images to hold up to lots of digital manipulation. I've grown accostumed to being delicate with my jpegs because that primarily the format I receive when I send film out to be scanned.

Chris- If I set the color space to Adobe RGB, should I then resave the files as sRGB if they are mean to be viewed online? I recall reading that Adobe RGB images might look flat on browsers that only support sRGB.
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Old 10-20-2012   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
I like photography simple. No RAW conversion steps for me until I graduate to a digital M.

I'm a film guy and digital is just for family snapshots (which I mostly print no more than 8x10). I use PS mainly as my printer driver, so I don't need my images to hold up to lots of digital manipulation. I've grown accostumed to being delicate with my jpegs because that primarily the format I receive when I send film out to be scanned.

Chris- If I set the color space to Adobe RGB, should I then resave the files as sRGB if they are mean to be viewed online? I recall reading that Adobe RGB images might look flat on browsers that only support sRGB.
Yes, convert to srgb for online viewing.
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Old 10-20-2012   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
I like photography simple. No RAW conversion steps for me until I graduate to a digital M.
Shooting RAW is simple, because the photos can be made to a higher standard of quality much easier than trying to color correct a JPEG whose white balance is off. To me, messing with JPEGs is complex, a horrid pain. Life is so much simpler when you do it right without shortcuts. The idea of graduating to a digital M...silly. If you can afford it, buy one. If you can't afford it, you'll never have one anyway. I know I'll never have one, the money just isn't a possibility for a single father living on a small income. When I have money, I spend it on my son. I'm a better photographer than 99% of the M9 owners here, but I am not wealthy. There are a lot of other photographers on RFF just like me: professionals and really talented amateurs doing great work, but without the money to buy gear. You do not graduate to an expensive camera of any kind, you simply buy it if you have the $$.

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Chris- If I set the color space to Adobe RGB, should I then resave the files as sRGB if they are mean to be viewed online? I recall reading that Adobe RGB images might look flat on browsers that only support sRGB.
Yes. You would need to save another file to go online anyway, since the JPEGs out of the camera will be way too big for web use anyway. When you make a smaller file for the web, convert it to sRGB too.
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Old 10-20-2012   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
I always edit my pictures for print in the Adobe RGB color space, and I don't work with RAW files, so I'm wondering if I should select Adobe RGB as the color space for my jpegs, or let the RX100 write them for sRGB and then covert later.
As other have said if u save in srgb and convert later it does u no good. U have already lost the info...

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Old 10-20-2012   #8
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I usually scan in Adobe RGB and convert to sRGB if posting it online.

When using digital most of my shots are RAW and the cameras settings are Adobe RGB..
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Old 10-20-2012   #9
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Camera manufacturers most commonly (Canon and Nikon) take advantage of the fact that srgb is a LUT profile by writing color correction curves into their cameras and raw convertors. This can be done with a LUT version of Adobe98 but usually isn't. srgb having a smaller gamut also makes it more accurate in general with colors that are closer to neutral (skin tones too). The best thing to do is ignore all the theory and trust your eyes, which do you like the look of better?
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Old 10-20-2012   #10
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If you don't have a properly calibrated wide-gamut monitor, or you don't make high-demanding large format prints, stick to sRGB.

Nothing wrong with AdobeRGB, it's all because Father Microsoft screwed things up hard here.
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Old 10-20-2012   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archlich View Post
If you don't have a properly calibrated wide-gamut monitor, or you don't make high-demanding large format prints, stick to sRGB.

Nothing wrong with AdobeRGB, it's all because Father Microsoft screwed things up hard here.
I convert to Adobe RGB because I believed that color space is closer to that of my printer. Is that wrong?
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Old 10-20-2012   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Shooting RAW is simple, because the photos can be made to a higher standard of quality much easier than trying to color correct a JPEG whose white balance is off. To me, messing with JPEGs is complex, a horrid pain. Life is so much simpler when you do it right without shortcuts. The idea of graduating to a digital M...silly. If you can afford it, buy one. If you can't afford it, you'll never have one anyway. I know I'll never have one, the money just isn't a possibility for a single father living on a small income. When I have money, I spend it on my son. I'm a better photographer than 99% of the M9 owners here, but I am not wealthy. There are a lot of other photographers on RFF just like me: professionals and really talented amateurs doing great work, but without the money to buy gear. You do not graduate to an expensive camera of any kind, you simply buy it if you have the $$.
Whoa, Chris. Not sure what I sad to trigger that response. I very much value your opinion and picked up quite a few tips from you when I started down the road of digital printing.

I understand RAW gives me more flexibility, but that flexibility is something I don't need for snapshots that I pretty much print straight out of camera for the family album. Until last week he family's digicam was an old Fuji that did not even offer RAW as an option. At some point I will install the Sony software that came with the camera just to experiment with RAW, but I hear it's not a great program and I'm not aware of free RAW converter programs for the RX100 -- let me know if you know of any.

And finally, sorry to be taking this personally, but your comment about the digital M being a silly idea in not fair. You don't know my financial position nor my financial priorities. I'm in no hurry, and one day I'll get there --or more accurately, I'll be forced there!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
Yes. You would need to save another file to go online anyway, since the JPEGs out of the camera will be way too big for web use anyway. When you make a smaller file for the web, convert it to sRGB too.
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Old 10-20-2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
Whoa, Chris. Not sure what I sad to trigger that response. I very much value your opinion and picked up quite a few tips from you when I started down the road of digital printing.

I understand RAW gives me more flexibility, but that flexibility is something I don't need for snapshots that I pretty much print straight out of camera for the family album. Until last week he family's digicam was an old Fuji that did not even offer RAW as an option. At some point I will install the Sony software that came with the camera just to experiment with RAW, but I hear it's not a great program and I'm not aware of free RAW converter programs for the RX100 -- let me know if you know of any.

And finally, sorry to be taking this personally, but your comment about the digital M being a silly idea in not fair. You don't know my financial position nor my financial priorities. I'm in no hurry, and one day I'll get there --or more accurately, I'll be forced there!
I didn't say getting a digital M is a silly idea. What I said was the idea of "graduating" to a digital M is silly. If you want one, and can afford it, buy it. Choosing to do inferior work (not shooting RAW) while you wait to buy one (when you'll start shooting RAW) is not good either.

I started out as a professional photographer using a Mamiya 645, when I was 18. It would have been cool to have a Hasselblad, but my father VERY generously bought me the 645 and a set of lenses for it. He could afford it, and he knew it was a very capable professional system, albeit not the "Very Best", as a Hasselblad is in the world of medium format (or the digital M is in the world of 35mm digital systems).

I used that 645 for nearly all of my work for 15 years. I was able to get a Hasselblad several years ago. It took me that long before I could afford one (helped greatly by the drop in prices of them after most pros went digital). I still use my 645 though. Its a great camera, and it has made many of by best images.

You not shooting RAW until you get a digital Leica would be like me shooting everything with my Mamiya 645 in autoexposure mode and getting all my film developed at Walmart because I had not 'graduated' to a Hasselblad. If I had done that, my work would have sucked, I'd never have developed the technical skills needed to earn a living, and would never have produced the work I have made over the last 19 years!

I'm not trying to be rude, I'm trying to open your eyes. If you refuse to do the best work you can do, refuse to even try because it would be 'complicated', until you have a top of the line camera....then you might as well not bother. I realize it is probably a hobby for you, not something you are trying to make a living at, but even in my hobbies I always strived to do the best I could.

Even when I was a kid, I constantly worked to learn more about photography and improve my work. I spent a summer mowing yards when I was 15 to save up money to buy a Minolta Autometer IIIf, a handheld meter, because I knew it would make getting consistent exposures easier than relying on the built in averaging meter in my camera. I still have that meter, and I still use it, even though I later bought the more 'professional' Flash Meter VI. I'm 37 yrs old, that was a long time ago!
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Old 10-20-2012   #14
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Graphic design and digital postproduction is part of my job...

You're on the right track - but as already pointed out, there's no gain in going from Adobe RGB to sRGB. If your camera can save images in Adobe RGB, then do so if printing.
.
Think of colour spaces as containers of different sizes and shapes - like boxes and buckets. A crude but adequate analogy. The larger the container, the more colours; and if you have a box (Adobe RGB) and bucket (sRGB) roughly the same size so the colours are similar, the box will still have the better range because colours extend into its corners. You have to imagine that specific colours in the containers are always in the same locations - as if frozen into blocks of ice.

When you convert from Adobe RGB to sRGB, you throw away colours at the edges of the colour space. You're throwing out information that once gone can never be regained. Going back to our containers, you've gone from a box to a bucket of about two-thirds its volume. What happens when you do the reverse is that the reduced range of colours simply fills the larger space - the colours touching the sides of the bucket now touch the sides of the box (you do gain extra colours, needed to "fill the gaps" as the colour space expands, so you will get smoother colour ranges and transitions, in theory, but this is just a mathematical best guess).

Computers, other hardware and software are in the main designed to work in the sRGB colour space, and don't understand profiles and colour spaces, so colour in Adobe RGB images displays incorrectly - the extra unexpected colours making the image appear oversaturated (notably reds and greens). It's only specialised software aimed at those working with colour - so-called colour aware" programs - that can understand colour spaces and profiles. So, Photoshop and inkjet printers can use Adobe RGB, but not Microsoft Word or most monitors. Which is why it's usual to use sRGB for images destined to live solely on a computer. (As an aside, most digital images don't have embedded colour profiles, but hardware and software assumes sRGB.)

That's the theory in a nutshell. How about in practice? Doesn't make that much difference using Adobe RGB compared with sRGB. In most instances, you won't see any difference, especially in prints. And in those cases where there is a difference, it'll be minor. The differences will occur with colours at the edges of the Adobe RGB colour space, and tend to be areas of flat unnatural colour such as a fluorescent orange jacket. Also, these differences can be less than those resulting from using a different camera or printer (or Raw converter - which doesn't apply to you, I know).

A lot of digital users can get somewhat anal about theory - you must use a large colour space or the sky will fall! But it's not that crucial in the real world - that said, most cameras have an Adobe RGB option, and if you print digital photos, there's no point throwing away colour for the trade off of a slightly more complex work flow (i.e. having to remember to convert to sRGB for the web, non-photographer friends and the like).

As a colour professional, what do I do? I use Adobe RGB as my default colour space, converting to sRGB when required. I don't bother with even larger colour spaces, such as Prophoto RGB - the minor theoretical gain is not worth the hassle of moving away from what's still a standard colour space in widespread use (and so-called "wide-gamut" monitors can only display colours similar to Adobe RGB - Prophoto is too wide, so can only be simulated). Sometimes I mistakenly end up with a JPG or TIF that's sRGB - but because the Adobe RGB file wouldn't be much different, I'm not bothered.

One tip. Make a habit of using one colour space as your default, to make your life easier: JPGs out of the camera to always be Adobe RGB or sRGB. Applies to files from your scanner too...
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Old 10-20-2012   #15
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What Rich said...

I almost always should in raw. But if I do shoot in jpeg I always shoot in Adobe RGB for the reasons Rich eloquently stated.

Some labs want Adobe RGB for prints. On line viewing works best with sRGB. From Lightroom I export Adobe RGB or sRGB depending upon how the rendered images will be used.
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Old 10-20-2012   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
I like photography simple. No RAW conversion steps for me until I graduate to a digital M.
Your answer is right there. So stick to sRGB, because although AdobeRGB gives you a wider gamut than sRGB, you'd have to convert from AdobeRGB to sRGB in order for the colors to display properly in an sRGB-centric consumer computing world. Converting means reprocessing your JPEGs, which are already compressed, and conversion will recompress and introduce artifacts depending on the "quality" level of your JPEGs.

So, if you like it simple, stick to sRGB and don't think about anything else. When you are ready to care about retaining colors within the source color gamut, not introducing compression artifacts, process in 16 bit vs. 8 bit, etc., then you switch to RAW (and deal with other colorspaces other than sRGB prior to online publishing)
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Old 10-20-2012   #17
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One final point - to do with JPGs not colour. As I'm sure you're aware, JPGs are "lossy" - their small size is a result of "unimportant" pixels not being stored as data but instead their position being calculated through guesswork. The lower the JPG quality setting, the more pixels being guessed. As Gabriel says, resaving JPGs results in more and more of the image being rebuilt through guesswork, and hence digital artefacts like haloes around objects appear.

Hard disk space is cheap and plentiful, so if not using Raw files, do set your JPG quality setting to maximum in the camera, and when saving from software like Photoshop. At maximum quality, JPGs are pretty robust, and you can edit and save several dozens of times without visible artefacts appearing.

Do remember to save as (not save!) at lower quality if you need files for the web or to email.

If you don't want the hassle of Raw files, your camera might produce TIF files (sadly uncommon in today's cameras; or you could convert fresh from the camera JPGs, using Photoshop). TIFs are "lossless" - data for every pixel is stored, no degradation in quality regardless of how many times a file is saved, but the file size is about 10 times that of a maximum quality JPG.

If I were you, I'd use TIFs if your camera produces them. If not, use maximum quality JPGs.
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Old 10-21-2012   #18
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Thanks, Rich, that's a plan. I'll revert to Adobe RGB, which is what I use for printing anyway and keep things constant.
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Old 10-21-2012   #19
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One could also edit in ProPhoto color space which has the largest color gamut, and then convert down to Adobe or sRGB for printing and posting on the web.
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Old 10-21-2012   #20
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One could also edit in ProPhoto color space which has the largest color gamut, and then convert down to Adobe or sRGB for printing and posting on the web.
Not so fast... Let me expand on why I said it's not worth it - especially in froyd's case.

Arbitrarily using a colour space just because it "has the largest colour gamut" is not sensible without careful consideration of the reasons for doing so and possible ramifications. Not thinking things through can at best make postprocessing pointlessly more complicated and at worst degrade your photos.

• Adobe RGB (and sRGB, to a lesser extent) cope very well with most colours found in everyday scenes - most colours you encounter will be within the Adobe RGB space, and those very few outside are handled very gracefully (the people who design profiles and colour spaces DO know what they're doing!). So, what do you photograph? If it's everyday scenes in normal lighting, ProPhoto images vs Adobe RGB will look identical in most instances - so, using ProPhoto is pointless.

• Very occasionally, exceptionally saturated or unusual colours may suffer a slight colour shift. Do you need to reproduce all colours as accurately as possible? Does this slight colour shift matter - especially as the shift will be masked by differences between camera models, printers, papers, ambient lighting (i.e. colour balance)? If this shift is unimportant or masked by equipment, then there's no point in using ProPhoto.

• Are you prepared to adapt to a more complex workflow with wide-gamut colour spaces such as ProPhoto RGB? These have so many colours that the usual 8-bit (millions of colours) image files need to be created as 16-bit (trillions of files): the spaces are so big that even the millions of colours in an 8-bit file can sometimes not be enough, and "stretching" of a colour range to fill, say, the ProPhoto "bucket" may lead to banding and other unwanted artefacts. This means using Raw files to produce 16-bit output, and the need for software that can handle 16-bit files (like Photoshop or Lightroom). And your entire system will need to be carefully colour managed, including colour calibrating your monitor and using accurate printer profiles.

From the above, it is obvious that with the JPG output for the types of photographs froyd takes, ProPhoto RGB and its workflow is complete overkill.

As I mentioned, I work with colour professionally, and the small (often unnoticeable) benefits to using ProPhoto RGB make it simply not worth the effort in the REAL WORLD. I'm also doing a master's degree in photography, studying with a Magnum photographer, and neither he nor anyone else I know on the course bother with faffing with colour spaces (OK, excepting the technical staff!). I'd stake my life that if I mentioned "ProPhoto", they'd go "Wot?"!
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Old 10-21-2012   #21
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Rich thank you for taking the time to explain colour management in such a clear and concise manner. I hope you don't mind if I could trouble you with a related problem of my own.
I've done a few advertising campaigns that run as full and double page spreads in national glossy wedding magazines. I supply the client with three versions of the files, 16bit Adobe tiffs, 16bit CMYK tiffs, and 8bit sRGB jpegs. They then give these files to their graphic designer who designs the layout, then provides this to the magazines as a PDF with the image inserted in the PDF.
When I convert the Adobe RGB file to CMYK, I make an adjustment to the black point as they will often lose contrast in the conversion.
The problem is the mixed results we get in the published advert, generally Condé Nast titles will be fine, but other publishers can look like they've lost the black point adjustment so they'll sometimes look flat and dull.
We have tried having the CMYK files as test prints and they look great, only for the printed adverts to still be patchy.
I know Condé Nast were very particular about what type of CMYK file they wanted as it seems there are a few different standards, and I'm wondering if the graphic designer is supplying the magazines with the Adobe file and leaving the publisher to make the conversion to CMYK, some making a better job than others.
Any ideas of where I'm going wrong would be greatfully received. Thanks....Robert
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Old 10-21-2012   #22
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Old 10-21-2012   #23
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I've done a few advertising campaigns that run as full and double page spreads in national glossy wedding magazines. I supply the client with three versions of the files, 16bit Adobe tiffs, 16bit CMYK tiffs, and 8bit sRGB jpegs. They then give these files to their graphic designer who designs the layout, then provides this to the magazines as a PDF with the image inserted in the PDF.

When I convert the Adobe RGB file to CMYK, I make an adjustment to the black point as they will often lose contrast in the conversion.
The problem is the mixed results we get in the published advert, generally Condé Nast titles will be fine, but other publishers can look like they've lost the black point adjustment so they'll sometimes look flat and dull.

We have tried having the CMYK files as test prints and they look great, only for the printed adverts to still be patchy.
If you supply a client with a photo that's been optimised to how you and the client want it to appear - and (a) you've done this on colour-calibrated screen so you're in full control of the colour (which from your description I expect you do), (b) you've embedded a colour profile and (c) there's a covering note to the designer pointing out not to change the photo (don't mess with the colour or curves!) and that there's a profile embedded, then the photo should print similarly to how you expect.

CMYK always looks a bit flat compared with RGB - as I'm sure you're well aware when you convert! Offset printing makes the photo look even crapper!

Anyway, if you and the designer are happy with the appearance of the photo, then I don't think you are doing anything wrong: it sounds like the printers are not doing a good job, especially if the press proofs look fine.

You can do a few things to optimise the CMYK conversion:
  • Tweak the colour after conversion: bright greens and oranges tend to dullness, and dark blues can end up mauve.
  • Adjust the contrast to compensate for the reduced colour gamut. Do keep an eye out for blown highlights and blocked shadows - especially if they involve the above colours.
  • Compensate for dot gain - ink spread during the offset printing process that makes halftones print less contrasty and saturated than expected: 15% is a good figure for modern presses.*
  • Embed the correct profile. The modern European standard is FOGR39*
* Ideally, someone should talk to the printer (you, the client or the designer) to find out what they require in an optimised CMYK image - they will have their own preferences for dot gain (which will vary with paper type) and colour profile (though many clients are too inept to sort this out or give you permission to liaise with the printer, so you may find yourself using the above "defaults"!). It's uncommon today to supply photos as separate files to a printer, but a very few may still prefer this so they can process the images themselves - extremely unlikely to happen with ads - typically, the designer will sling a PDF of the entire mag including the ads at the printer.

Also, talk to the designer to see what they want: chances are they'll be perfectly happy with a single TIF file - that converted to CMYK. Providing unnecessary files simply causes confusion.

Only 8-bit files are needed in books/magazine production, so you forget about 16-bit (overkill - I can guarantee that the designer converts your 16-bit files to 8 bit as soon as they get them!). Also, unless the client specifically wants Adobe RGB TIFs, I'd provide sRGB instead (Adobe RGB is pretty much ignored in publishing) - this RGB file may still be wanted in addition the CMYK file, as the ad may be repurposed (e.g. website, online PDF, email), and it's better to use the RGB file than to reconvert the CMYK file back to RGB. The JPG is also possibly still useful, simply because of its much smaller file size and ability to be viewed in pretty much anything (so, useful for the client - not so much for the designer). Talk to the client, and see which file(s) they need, and only send those which are actually going to be used.

If it's really important to get the contrast and colours right, then the client should confirm with the printer that the printed copy will match the press proof. Note that the press proof won't be a "pull" from the press itself but is likely to a laser proof using the designer's PDF that's been fed into the printer's RIP. That said, if a printer supplies a proof, the least they can do is ensure that it is an accurate reflection of their offset press - so, if the published ad differs, I think it's reasonable for the client to moan at the printer!

As a last resort,you can always supply the client a physical print of the photo, the sent to the printer so they can match the appearance.
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Old 10-21-2012   #24
fotomeow
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lots of great in-depth info here: thanks guys.

I just wanted to offer perhaps a simpler explanation for people like myself who are not a a pro in the field.
I was taught to use Adobe rather than sRGB, for the above reasons, with the simple
reminder that sRGB stands for "sh*tty" RGB.
But remember you can, with many modern digitals, tell the camera to save RAW and JPEGs simultaneously.
you may not be ready to convert RAWs right now, but may want
to have RAWs for future conversion, when I/we/you have proper RAW converters on your computer,
to convert in the future.

E.g: if you are taking some meaningful pics (family, friends, wedding, travel) shoot the RAW & JPEG.
the jpegs are for quick prints for the web and giving to others. keep the RAWs for when you are ready
to go back and fine tune the pic for blow ups, submission to magazines, contests, etc.
Its not much different than shooting film negatives, where you can get the quick 4x6" prints for immediate use,
and still have the negative as your "RAW", high-quality template.
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Old 10-21-2012   #25
bobbyrab
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Thanks again Rich, that's much appreciated....R
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