500PX Announces New Wide Color Gamut and Google WebP Format For Images

500px is today modernizing the platform for displays that have been taking major steps forward in the past few years. In a blog post, the company announced that they’re going to be supporting Google’s WebP format–which the company recently introduced to shrink the size of images without sacrificing quality. A number of blog platforms, including Squarespace, have been doing it for a while. But in addition to that, 500px is also announcing that they’re going to be supporting other color gamuts.

Now, if you have an image uploaded already in a specific gamut, that isn’t going to change. But 500px hasn’t specifically supported that before. Most of what you see on the web is sRGB. And if you print, you’re probably more familiar with Adobe RGB as it helps with a wide number of things including skin tonality color gradation. Though there are other spaces too including ProPhotoRGB. 500px is today announcing that they’re going to be supporting all of them as modern displays and phones have finally caught up. Lots of displays support over 95% of the Adobe RGB spectrum and when you calibrate a display to be one or the other, the difference is pretty night and day. Of course, again you need to print to get the fullest capabilities from something rendered out to the Adobe RGB spectrum.

500px today announced support and searchability for wide-gamut imagery. This long exposure fireworks image highlights the colors that can’t be reproduced in a standard color space. The left side of the image shows the P3 color space in its full spectrum. The right side shows the colors that sRGB can represent as grayscale, while keeping the P3-only parts of the image as color. The deep blues and vibrant oranges are not available in sRGB.

Image: 4th Philippine International Pyromusical Competition (Fireworks) Photo credit: Sunny Merindo

For example, the above photo is from the P3 spectrum, and you can compare it to the sRGB photo on the right side. Of course, you’ll only see the fullest benefit of this on a screen that is calibrated and designed to cover a spectrum like this.

“For most people, it takes seeing the same image side-by-side on a good monitor for them to really get it.” said VP Kelly Thompson in an email to the Phoblographer when we asked if most people will really notice. “That being said, our photographers notice if anything is off in our rendering pipeline and they certainly noticed the bug in Chrome.” He continued to state that the displays on our phones (iPhone or Android) are incredibly accurate and have a wider gamut than even Adobe sRGB.

“Since 500px is about quality, we wanted to be delivering the best images we possibly can. Everyone is driving to the Rec. 2020 standard, so we are getting ready for that eventuality. More importantly, the sensors in our phones and cameras are capturing massive amounts of color data – we may as well be displaying it as best we can. Our screens are catching up.”


So why is any of this really important to you? Well, it means that there is a platform out there that is specifically trying to help you make the most of your photos in the color gamut that you’d want to showcase in. The way your image looks on your screen doesn’t look the way that you may intend it to on another display. But in addition to that, even if you’re calibrating your display it may not give off the intended colors as calibration depends on a whole variety of factors. Plus, your viewing also depends on a whole lot–whether you’re outside under a tree and all that green is coming in or in your office with a bookshelf next to you and light blocking curtains, you’re going to have a different viewing experience. However, again, you’ll still have a chance of some sort to make people see the photos the way that you intended them to be if you’re working with mobile devices. Most devices are calibrated the same. For example, Apple’s iPads and iPhones have similarly calibrated screens so the look will be the same there.

500px Supports Searchable Wide-Gamut Images and Google’s WebP Format

500px Improves Photography on the Web – Offers Searchable Color Profiles, Enhanced Compression, Higher Image Quality Consuming 25 Percent Less Bandwidth

TORONTO—August 22, 2017 – 500px, the world’s largest global photography community, today announced full support for wide-gamut imagery, searching by color profiles, and WebP format image delivery. With recent wide-gamut adoption growth in displays, smartphones, and laptops, 500px is now able to stay truer to the photographer’s original vision, delivering better-looking images and reducing bandwidth usage by up to 25 percent. Previously the company had converted non-sRGB images to sRGB for the broadest display compatibility – the industry norm – but now delivers images with wide-gamut profiles (such as Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, and Display P3) in their original forms. Users looking for wide-gamut images can filter by color profile during any image search on 500px’s website.

“Though sRGB has been standard in our industry for many years, with today’s broad adoption of iPhones and wide-gamut displays we can finally showcase each image in a more true-to-life way and allow searching by color profile,” said Kelly Thompson, Vice President of 500px. “Our flexible image resizing and delivery system renders WebP compressed files to browsers and apps that support the format, further enhancing the experience with smaller file sizes and quicker downloads. As more efficient file compression options arise, we’ll be leading the way delivering those formats to our members.”

sRGB was a good solution for image delivery in the past, but with widespread use of wide-gamut cameras and displays by the general population, the standard is showing its age.

Wide-gamut imagery offers deeper, richer colors across the spectrum, delivering colors not previously reproducible on standard sRGB displays.

The 500px image delivery system is flexible enough that as new technologies in color and file format are introduced and become mainstream, 500px will be on the forefront of adopting and integrating them.

Rolling Out WebP Support
For Chrome users, 500px has been rolling out WebP support for the past month. Preliminary tests show similar or better image quality combined with on average a strong 25 percent reduction in file sizes. WebP support has also been rolled out to the latest version of the 500px Android app, further enhancing the mobile experience.

Tips for 500px Photographers When Uploading
Wide-gamut image uploads are encouraged. For those using the 500px iPhone app, images uploaded from an iPhone 7or 7 Plus are already Display P3 profile images and will look great when delivered to the wider 500px audience.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.