Musings on Photography

Color managed web viewing with Firefox 3

Posted in web issues by Paul Butzi on June 24, 2008

Much has been made about how the new release of Firefox can be coerced into behaving correctly with respect to color profiles. It isn’t the default. No, the default is to do the wrong thing.

I am unimpressed, for two reasons: 1) having your web browser correctly deal with embedded profiles in images will not solve your problems if your monitor is not correctly calibrated, and very few people actually use profiling hardware and software to calibrate their displays, and 2) I’ve been using Safari, which correctly handles embedded profiles, for quite a while now. And with Safari, of course, the default behavior is correct.

An added note is that people are warning against turning on the ‘behave correctly’ behavior of Firefox, because it will decrease performance by 10-15%.

Because, I’m sure, it’s far more important to get the wrong answer in x seconds than it is to get the right answer in 1.15x seconds. There was a time when software was all about getting the right answer quickly. Apparently things have changed. I do not view this as an improvement.

11 Responses

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  1. Mike O'Donoghue said, on June 26, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Dunno — using Firefox 2 and compare with Safari and see no difference in image in “persistance of vision” entry. Using Sony monitor. Perhaps version 3 ain’t all you expected. Go back to two!

  2. Justin said, on June 26, 2008 at 9:21 am

    What about Safari for windows? how do you feel about the color and the performance?

  3. Paul Butzi said, on June 26, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Dunno — using Firefox 2 and compare with Safari and see no difference in image in “persistance of vision” entry.

    Right. I convert images for web display to sRGB, which is the default color space for most machines. That way, even if the browser doesn’t do anything the image ends up more or less right.

    What about Safari for windows? how do you feel about the color and the performance?

    Beats me. I no longer have a Windows machine in daily use, so I’d have to go out of my way to check. And, to be honest, I’m entirely undermotivated to do that. That particular issue falls squarely in the “somebody else’s problem” category.

  4. Justin said, on June 26, 2008 at 11:31 am

    “somebody else’s problem” … true but unfortunately somewhere close to 75% of the www population still use IE as their browser and it would be great if Safari for windows provided theses users an easy way to get the onto the same color platform as Mac’s Safari.

    It would be great to know that fans to your blog can view all your wonderful photos they way you intended them to.

  5. Riki Horay said, on June 26, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I use Firefox because IE 7 have more crash with JAVA Sun applications. Firefox work allways good!Rgds

  6. Jeff said, on June 26, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Unfortunately Firefox 3 doesn’t get it completely right, at least not on the PC.

    Firefox 3 correctly recognizes embedded profiles, and correctly converts them to your monitor profile for display. Unfortunately it treats all other color data (ie everything in a web page except for photos) as if it were already in monitor RGB when it should be treated as sRGB and then converted to monitor RGB. This won’t be noticeable on most displays, but if you have a wide-gamut display it is noticeable.

    Last I heard Safar’s color management was also half-baked on the PC, it recognizes embedded image profiles but completely ignores your monitor profile and converts everything to sRGB.

    Hopefully IE8 will have color management support that actually works.

  7. Andrew said, on June 26, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t think that the default behaviour is incorrect. Firefox is designed to be reasonable fast from the start. Seeing as how 99% of the population doesn’t care about color managment, they would rather have a faster browser. Computer users are a very impatient bunch, and if the computer is spending cycles doing something that they in the end they don’t care about, then it’s not doing its job correctly.

    It might be worthwhile for Firefox developers to make it an easier option to change, but as it stands going through about:config isn’t that difficult with step by step instructions. Idealy a generic question during install about preference of preformance vs. rendering quality would be best.

  8. Mike O'Donoghue said, on June 26, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Any reason to change from FF2 to FF3?

  9. Markus said, on June 27, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    > Any reason to change from FF2 to FF3?

    The have resolved a lot of security issues, so that was enough reason to change for me, even on linux.

  10. wesjo said, on June 28, 2008 at 9:31 am

    “Any reason to change from FF2 to FF3?”

    For one, it runs faster (!!). Amazing thing considering that most software runs slower with the latest version.

    2nd thing, the auto-complete field shows the title of the web page. It also auto-completes based on letters/words in title of the page + web address.

  11. Mike said, on July 1, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Did the upgrade and FF3 runs colors just right as is. I see no difference.


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