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Print to file JPEG looks washed out

Dec 20, 2009 10:28 PM



I recently exported a JPEG from the print module for the first time so I could get it printed at a photo lab. I was surprised to see that the file looked rather washed out/less saturated than the original did in Lightroom. I have a lot of experience exporting to the web and I'm aware about color spaces and how sRGB is often better for the web and photo lab printing. As far as I can tell my print to file settings are accurate.


My best guess is that the rendering intent option changes the color of the jpeg somewhat? I left the option set to Perceptual. Can the rendering intent option cause colors to look less saturated in a print to file JPEG? If that is the case, then I assume that the photo lab should compensate for this when I go to get it printed?

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 22, 2009 12:38 PM   in reply to jw80

    There is no perceptual intent in sRGB, so whatever you select the output will be the same.


    If your export looks different from the original in Lightroom, either or both of the following is a problem: 1. You are not correctly calibrating your screen. The screen needs to be calibrated using calibration hardware. And/or 2:You are looking at the exported image in a non-color managed apps. Only color managed applications can show you the correct color.

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    Dec 22, 2009 3:58 PM   in reply to jw80

    Ah. This appears to be another manifestation of the rather weird print module export bug. Quite a few people have now seen this on the forum and you should submit a bug report. It is only present on windows versions of Lightroom AFAICT. What appears to happen is that Lightroom renders the image in the display profile and then assigns the sRGB (or other) profile on export. Your observation that it is more or less correct when you use adobeRGB makes me think you probably have a wide-gamut display. You can check whether you have the bug by assigning the display profile in Photoshop to an export. There should be no involvement of the display profile whatsoever in the export from the print module, but somehow it happens. Clearly a bad bug. Luckily I never encountered it but it would bum me out majorly as it is a showstopper. The only workaround I have heard of is to temporarily assign sRGB to the display, do your export and then set it back to your calibrated monitor profile.


    Are you using LR 2.6?

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    Dec 23, 2009 5:24 AM   in reply to jw80

    OK, so that precisely tells it's the same bug as reported here :


    I made another test with LR3b, and the bug is still there.

    Not that difficult to bypass... if you got an application allowing the management of profiles (CS4 here, assign the display profile, then convert in sRGB so that changes are visible in any application), and that doesn't smoothen the workflow either. We're both good for a bug report jw80 and I.

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    Dec 24, 2009 4:25 AM   in reply to jw80

    The ProPhoto space is just the default working space (and only if you choose so of course), converting an image just sets it in another color space, trying to keep the color as close as possible to the same. File/Convert to.

    If you use the file ONLY in color management-sensible apps, the "convert to" step is not needed.

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    Jan 2, 2010 9:56 AM   in reply to jw80

    1. the profile choosen in LR's print module seems irrelevant, it's simply not used as far as I can see.


    2. assigning is a lossless operation, but converting is not strictly lossless in a 8bit space ; however, the loss going from your wide-gamut-display profile to AdobeRGB should be really minimal, and I'd say very probably undetectable.

    The loss due to converting to sRGB (apart from the hues lost going in a smaller space, but this loss is unavoidable if your printer takes only sRGB files) shouldn't be objectionable either.


    Bottom line : I wouldn't say that the bug really degrades quality, however it surely degrades workflow.

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