I've calibrated my monitor, and either need photos to give to my customers on a photo cd, or sometimes I need prints. I've downloaded my lab's profiles.
...and that's where things get weird...
My monitor never matches what the lab prints.
I shoot in RAW, run my images through Phase One's 'Capture One' Pro 3.79. In there, there are some color management choices.
1) Camera Product, which I've set to Nikon D200
2) Camera Profile, which I've also set to Nikon D200
3) Output destination, which I've set to sRGB (I have no need to use RGB)
4) Web destination, set to sRGB
5) Proof destination, which I've set to my lab's profiles that I've downloaded
6) Monitor profile. It is this one, that most concerns me. I can set this for sRGB, which is where it is now, or I can manually tell it to use the ICC profile that I set with my calibrator. This is a trick question, because I figured it'd be a slam-dunk to set it to the ICC profile. But I called X-rite calibrators, and he said not necessarily, and in fact, you probably want to leave that choice simply set to sRGB. He said to check with Capture One to see what they say, because with Photoshop you don't choose what monitor profile to use as it detects your ICC profile automatically. I will ask Capture One later, but wanted to hear from all of you as well (the guy from Capture One might give the wrong answer, so I'm hedging my bets).
Then within Photoshop CS4, there are also several choices.
1) Under Convert to Profile, since my image will be printed, I currently have the lab's profile selected.
2) Color Settings, is set to sRGB
3) Under Assign Profile, I currently have the lab's profile selected. Other choices, would be sRGB, the ICC profile, Capture One's settings, etc.
So overall, there are 9 settings x 5 choices or more choices most of the time = 45 options, if not more.
What d'yall think about what things ought to be set to? Again, sRGB is the color space I'm using.
Monitor profile should be set to the actual monitor profile (measured if you can) - otherwise what you see may not be what you have.
sRGB would only be appropriate if your display really, really matched sRGB (and it probably doesn't).
Convert to Profile is a command, not a setting.
Assign profile is a command, not a setting (and one that you shouldn't be using at all in this workflow).
There are many settings in ColorSettings, and you only listed one.
Under color settings, there are some with limited choices and it seems as some of those ought not to be messed with.
RGB is set to sRGB
CMYK is set to US Web coated SWOP v. 2
Dot gain 20%
RGB, CMYK, and Grey, are all set to Preserve Embedded profile
Note that the profile you associate with your monitor is done at the operating system level. The OS provides the ability to set it, then the applications (like Photoshop) read that profile setting and actually do the color-management.
What operating system are you running?
The next question will be what do you see for the Color Management setting now, but I can't quite tell you where to look without the answer to the above question.
OK, do this then:
For Photoshop to be able to properly determine your monitor profile, and thus do accurate color management, the profile that describes your monitor's color characteristics accurately - e.g., the one you made with the profiler - should be set as the default in the Devices tab.
"I've calibrated my monitor, and either need photos to give to my customers on a photo cd, or sometimes I need prints. I've downloaded my lab's profiles.
...and that's where things get weird... My monitor never matches what the lab prints."
If it's your prints not matching your screen that you're worried about, there are a few places to look, but first, how are they not matching - color, contrast, overall luminance or brightness, or something more specific? How did you calibrate your screen, which which device, and are you sure it was done right? What target values for color temp and luminance? What is your ambient light like in your editing space? How are you viewing the prints that don't match your screen - what light source for viewing?
There's a good chance that the lab's profiles are not great as well, and do you know how well calibrated they are and how stable their chemical processes are as well.
"I shoot in RAW, run my images through Phase One's 'Capture One' Pro 3.79. In there, there are some color management choices."
That's a very very old version of CaptureOne, and while it was always color managed, I can't recommend strongly enough that you upgrade to the latest version. Better processing. Better features. Much faster. Just much better all 'round. I'm up to v6 now and it's one of the most productive tools I own, particularly for working with large shoots.
Capture One 5 or 6, are a joke, by comparison to 3.79. I can actually "get my work done" in 3.79, something nearly illegal to do
in v. 5 or 6; they're just way too complicated to use, and the biggest drawback, is that you have to use your arrow key to go from photo to photo! How painful is that??? With 3.79, I zip through them at warp speed, simply by scrolling my mouse wheel.
As to your questions, it's off "a lot", so all the questions about ambient light at the time I was calibrating, viewing, etc., though yes, they would make slight changes, I'm off like 2 stops too dark when the lab prints them out. Waaaaay off. If I got even the brightness up to snuff, then I could say the color saturation or whatever is also off, but long and short of it... it's way off right now.
Currently, I'm using a Huey Pro. Laugh as you may, but they're "accurate enough". They're not 2 stops off. I also have an X-rite i Display2 that I will be using in a few days once I get over these initial hurdles.