Photo Paper Reviews

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Jon Canfield  |  Jul 01, 2009  |  0 comments

It’s kind of difficult to believe that there could be much innovation in a material that’s been used for thousands of years, but I’m always surprised at the number of new printing papers that come out each year. Of course, the traditional surface photo papers in gloss and luster finishes continue to be the most popular choices, but there is an ever-widening variety of fine art...

George Schaub  |  Oct 01, 2013  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2013  |  0 comments

Way back in 2006, Innova Art brought out their FibaPrint White Gloss 300 gsm, and while not what I’d call a big brand name here in the US, digital printmaking aficionados who had come from the fiber-paper darkroom tradition took note. Here was an inkjet paper that emulated, and some say matched, the look and feel of traditional bromide silver printing paper. Other surfaces have since been introduced in this line, including the new FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss 335gsm that’s the subject of this report. Of course, this is not the only paper that claims the “fine art” pedigree, but due to its weight, its ability to reproduce a wide range of tones with clarity, and its acid- and lignin-free constitution it has all the required specs.

George Schaub  |  Apr 20, 2012  |  1 comments

What qualifies a digital inkjet printing paper as “fine art?” To begin, it should be able to reproduce a wide range of tonal values and colors that satisfy the photographer. It should be “archival”, meaning that there should be no contaminants or even optical brighteners that could affect the print stability long term. And perhaps most important is that it should have that “look,” sometimes described as emulating a well-made darkroom print.

George Schaub  |  Jun 02, 2015  |  0 comments

Moab’s Juniper Baryta Rag 305 is a double-weight, 100% cotton inkjet paper with a “true baryta base,” which refers build-wise to the inclusion of barium sulfate in the mix but aesthetics-wise to having the look and feel of traditional silver-based darkroom printing papers. While that descriptive reference might be more poetic than experiential for many folks these days, it is a good thing. Its weight, richness and tonal depth separate it from many RC-type inkjet papers, plus it has one more laudable characteristic: lack of OBAs (optical brightening agents), those brighteners used in many papers that help give them a stark, cold white base coat.

George Schaub  |  Oct 27, 2011  |  First Published: Sep 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Let’s face it—some images just look better on a glossy surface. Yet, some folks spurn gloss for its “commercial” cachet and snapshot aesthetic. For those who prefer a “crisp” look to their prints but eschew gloss for practical and aesthetic reasons, a paper like the new Lasal Exhibition Luster could do the trick. Replacing Moab’s former Lasal Photo Luster (a 270 gsm paper vs. this one’s 300 gsm), this Resin-Coated (RC) paper has a bright white base, is flexible yet strong, and touts a new coating technology that the company claims yields improved scratch resistance and enhanced “opacity.” The paper is affordable for its class, with letter-size paper well below $1 per sheet (in 50-sheet packs), 13x19” at slightly under $2 a sheet, and a 17”x100’ roll at $143, all quoted from the company’s website.

 

Being an RC paper, the company says you can print using either dye or pigment-ink printers, although it says pigment is preferred. Lacking a dye printer our print runs were done using an Epson 3800 (pigment) printer using Epson (Premium Luster) and Moab ICC profiles, and both Photoshop and Epson printer controls. Color and black-and-white images of landscapes, people, and graphics were chosen for the tests. Prints were left overnight to cure, although we note that prints were instant dry and the paper showed no signs of ink “wetness” sometimes seen with fiber-based papers right off the press, and there was no dry down effect perceived. Prints were made with Photo Black ink settings.

George Schaub  |  Jul 07, 2011  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2011  |  0 comments

Inkjet printmakers have nothing to complain about when it comes to paper choices. There are glossy, semigloss, and matte surface papers galore, each with their own charm and cachet. Regarding the latter aspect, Somerset is no slouch, having established a reputation in both inkjet and other art papers many years back.

Their latest entry into the inkjet market is Somerset Museum Rag, distributed by Moab. This 100 percent cotton, 300 gsm paper displays a smooth matte surface, a considerable, but not yellowish warm tone, and while strong and fairly thick, is actually quite supple. The paper is single-sided, which means the tooth is on one side only, and telling the printable from the backing side is not something that will be immediately apparent. For that reason the packaging comes with a stick-on label that says “printable THIS SIDE.” You would do well to keep the original cellophane packaging until you get a good feel for the surfaces. I found that if you rub your thumb along the surface the differences become clear, with the printable surface evoking somewhat of a higher pitch.

George Schaub  |  Jul 31, 2012  |  First Published: Jun 01, 2012  |  0 comments

Having worked with numerous types and brands of “metallic” surface papers I have some expectations as to what they can deliver. Metallic is a bit of a misnomer as these papers have a glossy surface on a paper (here acid-free) base with an opalescent sheen diffused throughout the emulsion coating. This gives a spark and edge to a print that glossy shares, but there is an extra kick in the paper surface that works quite well with some images, and not so well with others. It is a particular choice, one that should be part of your printing arsenal but hardly dominated by it.

 

I generally feel it is best to ignore marketing copy, but sometimes it’s fun to see how folks spin their yarn. Moab’s has always been somewhat transcendent, here telling us that the surface is “reminiscent of the ultra-smooth and slick sandstone surface of the famous bike trail that loops through the desert plains of Moab…” Well, never having done the loop that may well be so, but if so the bike’s tires better have crampons, since this surface is quite slick. What is more to the point is that the copy makes a more straightforward claim that “black-and-white images shine on this new paper producing deep blacks and ultra-bright highlights.” That, and other matters, was the subject of my printing tests.

George Schaub  |  Aug 29, 2017  |  0 comments

Inkjet printmakers now have a range of printing paper options that go well beyond the wildest dreams of darkroom printers in terms of size, surface, and print “look.” While covering all the offerings would fill all the pages of this issue, and then some, what follows is a sampling of paper options that I have recently tested with some suggestions about how they might best be put to use in your creative endeavors. 

Frances E. Schultz  |  Sep 01, 2003  |  0 comments

It's always fun to try out a new photographic printing paper, especially when it turns out to be as versatile as the new Paterson Acugrade Warmtone. It is a medium weight, Variable Contrast (VC), Resin-Coated (RC) paper with a semimatte, pearl...

Jack Neubart  |  Mar 01, 2002  |  0 comments

Everyone involved in digital printing cannot stress strongly enough the importance of using good-quality inks and media, especially when it comes to printing pictures of true photographic quality. In the case of ink jet printers, we begin, where a choice for our printer indeed exists, by choosing the...

Joe Farace  |  Jul 31, 2015  |  0 comments

Everybody makes prints from their digital image files—everybody. It may just be cranking out a few photo prints from a birthday party on a kiosk at Walgreens, or wedding photographers having full albums printed at commercial labs, but contrary to some pundits who claim digital has destroyed the need for a physical print, they are still being made and enjoyed. As Mark Twain once said, “Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.”

George Schaub  |  Sep 01, 2008  |  0 comments

Like most everything else these days the cost of "art" inkjet printing paper seems to be going through the roof, so printmakers are seeking alternatives without sacrificing quality. The perceived issue with some so-called "third-party" papers (those that do not carry the printer maker's brand, thus lack a profile installed with the original start up...

George Schaub  |  Dec 15, 2015  |  0 comments

Print surface decisions are usually conditional, that is, they depend on the look you want for each image and how you might intend to display the print later. There is a general wisdom that states that glossy surfaces make prints look “sharper” and matte makes them look “softer”, although that softness is more in overall tone and mood (and ink dispersion) than edge definition.

George Schaub  |  Dec 12, 2012  |  0 comments

While weight is just one measure of a paper’s resilience and usefulness for fine art printing, it can also have an effect on how that paper is handled, depending on the printer. In the case of Red River’s Polar Matte Magna, which is a 96 lb (320 gsm) stock, it means working with individual sheet feeding rather than with a stack loader in almost every printer you might have. This feed-through also limits the printers that can make use of this nice surface—those without a single feed option need not apply, as well as, according to Red River’s notes, HP printers with front feed paper trays (which have also proven problematic with other heavyweight surfaces).

George Schaub  |  Dec 19, 2011  |  First Published: Nov 01, 2011  |  0 comments

There’s no question that glossy and satin or pearl-type surfaces give an image more “pop,” but on the other hand you might want to use a matte surface to enhance the look and feel of certain images that rely less on pop than a quieter mood. It could be boiled down to a simple rule of thumb: for rich, high-saturation images you might use a glossy or semigloss; for more subtle colors it might be better to use a matte or satin. In the black-and-white realm it’s more of a toss-up but I think the same general rule applies. For example, for architectural images of adobe or stucco wall buildings I use matte; for glass and steel skyscrapers I choose glossy. Notice that I always modify the recommendations with “might”: if you really get into papers for printing you’ll make your own judgments. But there’s no denying that surface decisions play a role in overall effectiveness of the image.

 

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