Firefox Colour Management

Firefox Colour Management

Yesterday, I finally uploaded some pictures to my gallery again. After quite some time (the jf Smugmug plugin is not that fast when talking about uploading; at least compared to the Smugmug native upload via the web browser as it seems to be single-threaded), I browsed through the gallery in order to check the quality. I really was shocked with what I saw: bleeding colours and far too extreme colour contrasts, the saturation of some pictures seemingly was far too high.

As I have a (more or less) quite typical monitor configuration (i.e. a laptop and a bigger screen for working with pictures and other colour-sensitive stuff), I dragged the browser window to the laptop’s screen to check the colours on another screen. And guess what: the colours looked great again. Ok, admittedly “great” should read “better” here as the laptop’s screen’s quality is far from great (Lenovo X200s). When looking back, I remember some strange redraw behaviour when displaying the pictures in Firefox, exactly for the areas in the image where colours went crazy. That was a hint I silently ignored.

What could be the reason? Linux’ colour management? No, all right in that respect. Windows’s (running in a VM) colour managent? No, also no problem. I also could have wiped the ICC information from my pictures but that would not have been a solution but a tweak. To make a long story short: this is when I firs discovered Firefox’ colour management capabilities [mozillazine, gballard]. After disabling all that stuff, my pictures’ colours returned to normal again. Also not the best solution but the only one that works. Other browsers (such as Chromium) do not have colour management built-in anyway.

To disable the colour management in Firefox, simply go to about:config and set:

gfx.color_management.mode=0

Maybe it doesn’t behave sane because of my monitor configuration? Don’t really known. Maybe I’ll invest some more time to dig into that phenomenon. Regardless of that, I really should colour calibrate my monitors :)

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