ICC Profiles Browsers show wrong colors

I’ve look at the way Firefox implements ICC Color profiles in the past, finding that Firefox wasn’t able to render color properly. This might not be a problem for some applications, but is a pain for others like photography or web-development, where for example a designer might want to fade a picture into a solid background color.

Some time has passed and I decided to go for another run and test the browsers for the correct implementation of ICC profiles. In this test I tried Safari 5.0.2, Firefox 3.6.12 and Google Chrome 9.0.572.1 dev. All of them have their strengths and many people are now moving from FF to chrome for speed reasons, or for safari for fashion reasons. I wanted to know which was the best browser if I wanted to edit photos in Lightroom and then publish them online.

I took 1 picture I made and exported from my Lightroom with 3 different ICC profiles: sRGB, Adobe RGB(1988) and ProPhoto RGB. These 3 are the butter and bread of ICC profiles in photo editing. Then I opened each file in a different tab of each browser and made screen captures so I could show you the differences. Than I selected the same are in all the 3 and created a 3×3 matrix of images with all results. And then I was heading for a big surprise:

Different Browsers, different colors...

The most surprising result was not that Safari 5.0.2 was the best. The most surprising was how bad Chrome is. I knew already that Firefox wouldn’t be supporting version 4 of ICC profiles until FF4.0, but I wasn’t expecting that Chrome would be equally bad. The only browser that supports v4 ICC profiles is Safari. That’s why all three pictures above look the same, and are color correct in relation to what I was seeing in Lightroom. Both in Chrome and Firefox, the profile that is interpreted the nearest to the correct color is sRGB. Adobe RGB is worse and the way Chrome and Firefox render the Pro Photo RGB is simply awful. The pink cast on the sky, the lack of vibrance of the colors… It’s terrible.

The conclusion is that there needs to be someone at this companies worrying about this quickly. We are not in a green phosphorescent screens anymore. The lack of support for the v4 ICC profiles in Chrome and Firefox makes those browsers completely useless and I can’t recommend them anymore. It’s like if we had a browser that couldn’t display all the letters of the alphabet. No one would dear defend that browser. For me, color works the same way. Not having good color fidelity can change the way the user perceives the photo. It ruins everything.