What is the difference between a LUT and a (ICC) Colour Profile?

LUTs (Lookup Tables) and ICC (International Color Consortium) colour profiles are used in colour management to achieve accurate, consistent or stylised colour reproduction in digital media. However, there are some key differences between them:

1. Purpose: LUTs are used for colour grading, which involves adjusting the overall colour and tone of your footage to achieve a specific look or mood. On the other hand, ICC colour profiles are used to ensure consistent colour reproduction across different devices such as monitors, printers, and cameras.

2. Function: LUTs are designed to transform one colour space to another, while ICC colour profiles define how colours are interpreted and displayed on a specific device. LUTs are used in post-production to transform the colours of your footage to achieve a desired look, while ICC profiles are used to ensure that the colours you see on your screen match the colours that are printed or displayed on other devices.

3. Application: LUTs are typically used in video editing software or colour grading tools, while ICC profiles are used in video editing, they are also used in image processing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, and in the settings of devices such as printers or cameras.

In summary, LUTs are used for colour grading to achieve a specific look, while ICC color profiles are used to ensure consistent and accurate color reproduction across different devices. While they serve different purposes, both are important tools for achieving high-quality colour in digital media.

Layman Explanation:

Colour profiles are standardised, convertible, colour space (or settings) where as a LUT is the grading of those colour spaces.

In depth Technical Explanation:

Quora post about LUTS and Colour profiles


If you are reading this post from the United states – I know colour is spelt wrong, but where I’m from it’s correct. In a sense, it’s a bit like a colour space – we both know what the word (colour/color) relates to and it is easily convertible between our minds :)