[Sorry to revive this old thread]
with the advent of DCI-P3 compliant monitors and Apple's Safari doing color
managing to the device, we're seeing some issues in this area.
- Currently, WebKit sets the profile of the canvas backing store to sRGB
regardless of the output device. Because of this, high gamut images are
always clipped to sRGB. 
It would be ideal if we can specify that the canvas backing store is in the
Alternatively, we could add an API to attach a color profile to the canvas.
- The spec currently states that toDataURL should not include a profile.
However, if the backing store is in device pixels, the generated image
should include the correct profile. Otherwise if you draw the bitmap in a
compliant browser (ie Safari), the colors will look too saturated.
If we agree that canvas is in the device space, I'd like to see the spec
 clarified to state that compositing on the canvas should match
compositing on the HTML surface.
must perform colour correction at only two points: when rendering images
with their own gamma correction and colour space information onto a bitmap,
to convert the image to the colour space used by the bitmaps (e.g. using
the 2D Context's drawImage()
with an HTMLOrSVGImageElement
and when rendering the actual canvas bitmap to the output device.
must perform colour correction at only one point: when rendering content
with its own gamma correction and colour space information onto a bitmap to
the colour space used by the bitmaps (e.g. using the 2D Context's
with an HTMLOrSVGImageElement
ToDataURL and ToBlob  should also be enhanced so they include the device
profile if it is different from sRGB.
It would also be great if the browser could let us know what profile (if
any) it was using.
On Thu, May 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM, Justin Novosad <ju...@google.com> wrote:
> tl;dr: The color space of canvas backing stores is undefined, which causes
> problems for many web devs, but also has non-negligible advantages. So be
> careful what you wish for.
> I saw some confusion and questions needing answers in the "WebGL and
> ImageBitmaps" thread regarding color management. I will attempt to clarify
> to the best of my abilities. Though I am knowledgeable on the subject, I am
> not an absolute authority, so others are welcome to correct me if I am
> wrong about anything.
> Color management... To make a long story short, there are two types of
> color profiles : input profiles and output profiles for characterizing
> input devices (cameras, scanners) and output devices (displays, printers)
> Image files will usually encode their color information in a standard
> color space or in a an input device dependent space. If colors are encoded
> in a color space that is different from the format's default, then a color
> profile or a color space identifier must be encoded into the image
> resource's metadata.
> To present color-managed image content on screen, the image needs to be
> converted from whatever color space the image was encoded into into a
> standard "connection space" using the color profile or color space metadata
> from the image resource. Then the colors need to be converted from the
> profile connection space to the output space, which is provided by the
> OS/display driver. Depending on the OS and hardware configuration, the
> output space may be a standard color space (like sRGB), or a
> device-specific color profile.
> Currently, many color-managed software applications rely on the codec to
> take care of the entire color-management process for image and video
> content, meaning that the decoded image data is in output-referred color
> space (i.e. the display's profile was applied). There are practical
> reasons for this, the most important ones being color fidelity and memory
> consumption. Let me explain. The profile connection space is typically CIE
> XYZ or CIE L*a*b. I wont get into the technical details of how these work
> except to say that they are device independent and allow for an accurate
> representation of the whole spectrum of human-visible colors. This makes it
> possible to map colors from a wide gamut camera to a wide gamut display
> with high color fidelity for all the colors that are located in the
> intersection of the color gamuts of both the input and output devices. If
> we were forced to convert the image to an intermediate sRGB representation,
> the colors in the image would be clamped to the sRGB gamut (which is
> narrower than the gamuts of many devices). Currently, most browsers avoid
> doing that for <img>, and therefore provide (more or less) optimal image
> and video color fidelity for users of wide gamut devices. Also, an
> intermediate representation in 8-bit sRGB means loss of precision due to
> rounding errors, as opposed to the profile connection space which uses
> higher precision registers for intermediate color values to avoid precision
> issues caused by rounding. To avoid perceptible precision issues in an
> intermediate sRGB representation, we'd have to increase the bit depth and
> therefore use more RAM for storing decoded image data.
> All of this is to say that there are good reasons for the current
> situation where we deal with decoded images that have the output device's
> color profile pre-applied: color fidelity and memory consumption.
> In the case of 2D canvas, the color space for the backing store is
> unspecified, and many implementations have chosen to use the output
> device's color space, which has many advantages:
> * images and videos are already decoded directly into that space
> * no color conversion is necessary when presenting the canvas on screen
> (good for performance)
> * there is no loss of precision due the use of a limited-precision
> intermediate color space.
> * the color gamut is not constrained by an intermediate color space (like
> And disadvantages:
> * Compositing operations produce incorrect results because most of them
> (including source-over) are affected by the color space.
> * direct pixel manipulation using put/getImageData exposes data in a color
> space that is undefined, making it extremely challenging to perform many
> types of image processing and image generation tasks in a
> device-independent way.
> * The device-dependent behavior of a drawImage/getImageData round trip is
> a known fingerprinting vector.
> Right now, I am hearing a lot of complaints regarding the lack of a
> standardized color space for canvases, and in particular the impact this
> has on applications that try to do cool things with put/getImageData, or
> generate images procedurally. I want to make sure everyone understands
> there is a trade-off to fixing this, so be careful what you wish for.
> I am especially concerned about the issue of color gamut clamping, which
> will increase in relevance as wide gamut devices become more widespread.
> If we were to decide that canvas backing stores had to be in sRGB, that
> would mean that a wide gamut image viewed on a wide gamut display would
> look best when displayed in an <img> and would be duller when drawn through
> a <canvas>, whether it be 2D or WebGL. Is that something we are willing to
> live with in the name of standardizing the color space of ImageData? I
> must admit I was in favor of moving canvases to sRGB until I reviewed some
> of Noel Gordon's recent work which brought the gamut and precision issues
> to my attention.
> Rik: to answer your question about your experiment: there is no issue with
> a put/getImageData round trip. You will get back the same color you put in
> (at least for opaque colors, but that is another story). The issue is with
> a drawImage/getImageData round trip. For the same source image,
> getImageData will return different values depending on the display profile
> of the system you are running on.
> Ken: You mentioned to me off thread that built-in support for sRGB render
> buffers in OpenGL ES 3 may make it easier to move rendering to sRGB on next
> gen devices. I tend to agree, and I think it will also mitigate the loss of
> precision issue, but it still implies clamping wide gammut media to the
> sRGB range.