ICC Color Management Profile ignorance

Any decent, modern photo software uses ICC profiles for color management. Without color profiles, the interpreting software (say, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer) has to guess what color space your photo was rendered under (or, more likely, simply uses its default color space). Unless this happens to correspond with the correct values for your photos, your image may look flat, washed out, color-shifted, etc..

Clearly, then, photo sharing and professional photography sites must include ICC profiles with any user images that they provide. Right? Wrong!

Many photo sharing sites, including those marketed at professionals, are ignorant about color profiles. You may want to keep this in mind when selecting a photo service. Below is a list of sites that i have personally tested and verified as supporting or not supporting ICC profiles in resized photos.

Note that in order to include the ICC profile in the resized photo, the software must only copy the color profile from the original photo; technically (from a programming standpoint), the effort involved is minimal. The software need not interpret this data at all. The only reason that i can think of for a site to strip color profiles (at least, small profiles) when resizing images is ignorance.

Test data:

Key (+ or - each of the following; an absence of one of these flags indicates that the feature is untested for that site):

site date tested ICC support sample comments
flickr 2009.11.06 +r +t link They might not "get" human-interface/UI navigation concepts or high-resolution displays, but they "get" color management.
picasaweb 2009.11.06 -r -t link If you upload an image to be within picasaweb's restrictions (currently 1600x1600, and probably some maximum file size), the zoomed image doesn't get resized. Then, you can zoom in and out to view the difference between the version with and the version without the color profile. Shame on google.
expono 2009.11.06 -r -t link They mention something about color management in the "pro" features, but it's unclear what kind of color management they're referring to. I'd expect that, if they want people to upgrade to a "pro" account, they would include something as basic as ICC profiles in the resized photos regardless... so they're probably referring to something else.
smugmug 2009.11.06 -r -t link Images (but not thumbnails) uploaded using an sRGB profile appeared the same in my browser as they did in my photo viewing software. However, this was not because they include profile information: it's because they increased contrast/saturation/gamma accordingly (in all but the thumbnails). Hence the slogan, "You Look Better Here"?

The sample images will probably go away when my free account expires.
facebook 2009.11.06 -r -t link The sample photos were uploaded using the HTML uploader. The java uploader does some strange profile conversions, and appears to partially (yet only partially) apply the built-in profile. Perhaps it converts the final image to another profiled color space, but since facebook would then strip it anyway, i can't be sure (and it isn't important enough to me to decompile the application).

Want more sites included? Upload the above linked images to a (hopefully) permanent spot on the site, and send me a link for demonstration. I'll list it here. If you don't send me a demo, but simply suggest a site to me, i may or may not get around to testing it.

Last update: 2009.11.06

ari edelkind - [contact]