What’s the point of spending valuable time in the field, using great cameras and lenses, shooting RAW and processing in ProPhoto, only to print in sRGB? There is a good chance this is what you’re doing without even knowing it.
One tip off is if the lab requires you to submit the file in sRGB. That one is pretty self explanatory. The lab has just told you they are not printing everything in your file.
But there are sneakier ways that you can be limited to sRGB. Some ordering systems force everything into sRGB for consistencies sake. There is no easy way to tell this apart from asking the lab if their software is processing everything in sRGB.
Another way you can be limited is by what you are printing on. RA-4 chromogenic papers, the most common paper used by labs, have a gamut that really isn’t much larger than sRGB. RA-4 used to be state of the art, but you can more is possible. With the right inkjet process, you can get a much wider gamut and produce more vibrant prints.
There are very good business reasons labs work the way they do, but it’s not the way I work.
I want to produce the most vibrant print I can, something that is as close to your vision as possible. I’ve seen the difference that wide gamut printing can make, so I can’t even imaging converting it to sRGB as part of the workflow. If your file is in ProPhoto, I’ll print it in ProPhoto so you get the best print possible.
Everything about my process is designed to bring out the best in a photograph, even when it means working a little harder, because it makes a print with more impact. Once you’ve seen the difference, you won’t want to go back.