Paper Choice

When I decided to concentrate of digital printing I thought it a good idea to try a range of papers since I assumed, wrongly as it transpired, that there was a huge difference between makes and types just as there was with darkroom printing papers. I therefore brought as many sheets of different A4 inkjet sample papers as I could find, different weights and finishes, gloss, satin and matt. Having downloaded and installed the recommended printer profiles for each paper I printed two A5 images on each sheet. One colour and a second a desaturated monochrome version of the same colour image that I downloaded from colour-science.com. In fact these two;

Test-Image-A5-colourTest-Image-A5-mono

I have since found a better monochrome test image on Keith Cooper’s Northlight Images site available for download.

After allowing each print to dry for 24 hours I first compared the colour prints under a viewing light balanced to 6500K. The obvious difference was in paper finish, the higher gloss papers providing the greatest detail, colour contrast and vibrancy, the matt the least. So no difference to the darkroom papers in that respect. Comparing colour fidelity showed subtle differences that I felt could possibly be put down to inaccuracies in the use of downloaded generic colour profiles.

Turning my attention to the monochrome prints I found a similar story modified only by the warmth or otherwise of the paper coating. This tinting of the image was much more noticeable with the desaturated images than it was with the colour versions.

I felt that colour print quality was best served by the gloss papers, the inkjet equivalent of the darkroom resin coated gloss papers, unless one was producing larger exhibition prints, in which case the choice would be based on ones preference of paper finish.

Separating the printed images by surface finish was easy but using quality as the benchmark it was not quite so easy. With hindsight I guess I was looking to replicate my darkroom prints so favoured the subtle unglazed air-dried gloss finish of a quality Baryta finish paper.

The outcome of this tale is the now certain knowledge that price is not a good guide to quality. I found that I liked the results printed on Canson Baryta Photographic paper, which was one of the lowest priced papers tested and one that I have since adopted as my default paper. It is has a slightly warm colouration although this is only evident by direct comparison to a bright white source.

ObliskI am currently testing the latest incarnation of Swiss manufactured Ilford Galerie Prestige Gold Mono Silk which has recently been reintroduced to the UK market by Tetenal. It shows promise and may yet find a permanent place in my papersafe.

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I’ve had an A3+ box of Canson Edition Etching Rag in a draw for some months; at this point I must confess to ordering it in error! Good, got that out of the way. Anyway having expended a good deal of energy on it over the intervening months hefting it in and out of said draw to get at my other goodies, I decided to give it a try. Now I must point out that I have never been a fan of matt, actually Velvet Fine Art but matt to you and me.

Selecting a file in Lightroom that I had recently printed on my favorite semi-gloss paper I went to work or rather I didn’t. Although the R3000 produces magnificent prints their Mac software interface is not the best design that I have ever come across, in fact I can safely say that it is the worst. Its Windows cousin is almost user friendly in comparison. I think the Mac version has a lot in common with the Hampton Court Maze; it’s easy to get into but annoyingly difficult to get out of – I’ve heard all that nonsense about only turning left and believe me it doesn’t work.

Anyway back to the Rag. The machinations of setting up of the printer to suit this paper was obviously designed by the same person who planned the masonic initiation ceremony and you know I can’t tell you about that. Suffice to say I did eventually manage, after several hours, to entice a print out of the machine and I must say that I feel it was well worth the effort. Apart from the obvious lack of sheen the range of tones are remarkably similar to the print I made on Canson Baryta Photographique and even I can’t ask for more than that.

So, if you need a quality matt paper I can recommend Canson Infinity 310g Rag Photographique, a fine paper.Flower

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Having now made a number of prints on the Ilford Galerie Prestige Gold Mono Silk paper I mentioned above I can report that it is capable of excellent results and that I’m very happy to recommend it, in fact so much so that I’ve just taken delivery of another four boxes.

I’ve recently tried Pinnacle Cotton Rag fine art paper available from Paper Spectrum and am extremely pleased with the results, the colour fidelity and detail obtained is first rate. It is the equal of Canson’s Infinity Rag Photographique.


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