Tech Blog: Colorspace, File Formats and Untagged Files

Have questions about digital printing? How to get images to us? What type of file to send? We have tried to start simply and move onto the more complex questions. If you have questions regarding any of this or just want to review the process with us, please call or email us! First things first… You can upload us files here and you will see this screen from Hightail. You can drag and drop your images for upload to us.

Do I send Jpg, tif or psd? Raw?

You can send us any of the above. We have provided some details below about the difference between each type of file.

Raw are the proprietary file from the camera manufacture. Some examples are: Canon (.crw, cr2), Nikon (.nef, .nrw), Sony (.arw, .srf, .sr2), Pentax (.pef, .ptx).  Raw files hold the most data from your digital camera and are the easiest file to adjust exposure, contrast, white balance and other fine tuning. We can edit your Raw files however this requires an editing charge.

JPG is best for web use, but still can be printed from if it has high enough resolution and was saved at a high enough quality. (80+ in Lightroom, 10+ in Photoshop).

PSD is an Adobe Photoshop proprietary format. It can handle all of Photoshop’s features, but has some compatibility issues with non-Adobe products and Lightroom. PSD has a 2gb files size limitation.  Due to the compatibility and size issues, PSD has been (or should be) replaced by TIF by most photographers.  We prefer TIF.

TIF is one of the most universally accepted formats. It can be opened by most image editing and page layout software. TIF supports all the same things as PSD and has a larger file size limitation (4gb).

Ultimately, just send us what you have and we’ll figure it out. Got layers, send us those too. We can always provide assistance with your files or if you want to sit with one of our Digital Technicians and review files in person.

OK, so a tif  file, 16bit or 8bit?

Either one is fine. Whatever works for you.

What color space should I sent it in? AdobeRGB98, sRGB, ProPhotoRGB

You can send us files in any of these color spaces. You should be working in either AdobeRGB98 or ProPhotoRGB to begin with. sRGB is meant as a web colorspace, anything you upload to your website or facebook should be in sRGB.

As far as AdobeRGB98 or ProPhotoRGB goes, it could go either way. ProPhotoRGB is much bigger than AdobeRGB98 and can produce more colors. However, you must work in 16bit with ProPhotoRGB otherwise you can end up with posterization effects (banding). The other down side to ProPhoto is it includes imaginary colors. Yes, I said imaginary colors. They (Kodak) made the ProPhotoRGB color space so big that 13% of the colors included do not exist in the real world and are not visible colors. This can lead to color issues when printing. Some colors will become over-saturated or will be estimated to its nearest in gamut color and can cause banding. Even the best printers in the world can’t print imaginary colors.

AdobeRGB98 is larger than sRGB, is easily printable by commercially available printers and includes no imaginary numbers. Its not perfect, nothing is, but it is the standard most of the photographic world uses.

If you have a gray scale file, that is fine as well. Gray Gamma 2.2 will do just fine.

What about CMYK?

Leave that to the offset printers. If you send us a file with a CMYK colorspace we will convert it to AdobeRGB98.

What about an untagged file?

If you send us a file with an untagged colorspace you will get a call from an angry elf… just ask Ron Cowie. Again, you can just send us what you have and we’ll figure it out. Following our recommendations makes it easier, but we are happy to help in whatever stage you are in!