Tokyo Metropolitan Building on Vibrance Metallic

Review of New Breathing Color Media (Podcast 380)

I recently took delivery of two new types of paper and a new canvas from Breathing Color, and having profiled and worked with them over the last few weeks, today I'm going to discuss some of the attributes of these new media types and how I'm going to be introducing...

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • t.linn
    Posted at 04:33h, 23 July Reply

    OK, this podcast bummed me out a little, Martin. I have $500 of Crystalline Gloss canvas sitting in my office. I just assumed it was archival. Doh! Still, 55 years isn’t too bad assuming that the estimate is accurate. The fine print says it will be 55 years before it begins to deteriorate (whatever that means).

    All kidding aside, another good podcast. I’ll definitely be trying the metallic paper. And, BTW, you guys were hysterical on TWIP last week. : )

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:24h, 23 July Reply

      Sorry about that Tim. I was kind of bummed too, but it is still worth using for the ease of use, and as you say, it’s 55 years before it “starts” to degrade, which isn’t bad at all considering.

      Thanks for listening to TWiP. I keep chuckling to myself about that 2.5″ episode towards the end. I knew that wasn’t going to go well as I started talking about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • t.linn
        Posted at 10:34h, 23 July Reply

        Don’t worry about the 2.5″ comment, Martin. All things considered, it’s just a pee…er, pea in the ocean. : )

  • Ian Mylam
    Posted at 08:23h, 23 July Reply

    Martin, I have also been very impressed with Vibrance Metallic, and have tended to prefer it for urban scenes, such as this one of Manhattan at dusk, which I felt looked great printed large on this paper:
    Thanks for a great review.
    Best wishes

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:27h, 23 July Reply

      Oh yes! I can see that would be a great shot on Vibrance Metallic. As I was saying, dark areas and large swaths of color. It matches perfectly. Great shot too of course.

      It’s also nice to hear from someone that is already using VM. I love my matte paper (Pura Smooth now) but this is definitely going to be one of my chief consideration now as I consider what roll to feed into the printer.

  • Chris
    Posted at 12:15h, 25 July Reply

    Hi Martin,

    RE: Breathing Color Vibrance Metallic

    I see in the photo that the paper has a sheen, is the media surface a plastic or is it a coating on alphacellulose or cotton?

    Also, can you comment on OBA nature of Breathing Color Vibrance Metallic and if there are any print permanence claims or figures surrounding this paper.

    I do not see anything on BC’s site about the above items.

    Thank you.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:59h, 26 July Reply

      Hi again Chris,

      I was just on the phone with Breathing Color, and asked about this. Apparently Vibrance Metallic is a coating on an RC based paper. It’s not alpha-cellulose or cotton based.

  • Martin Bailey
    Posted at 13:58h, 25 July Reply

    Hi Chris,

    On your first question, I haven’t a clue. You’d need to ask Breathing Color about this.

    Vibrance Metallic does contain a small amount of OBAs, but when I shine an ultraviolet “black” light onto it, it reflects very little bit. I haven’t seen any claims about the performance except the marketing you see on BCs Web site, but I can assure you that everything they say about this paper is an understatement. It’s better than anything that you can describe in words.

    Again though, if you want more information than what I’ve provided here, please contact Breathing Color yourself. They are usually very good at answering questions, unless the information is proprietary or confidential for some reason.


  • Chris
    Posted at 14:21h, 25 July Reply

    Thank you Martin for your quick reply.

    What caught my interest is the statement about equivalency to slide film. I really miss the lightbox colors and impact.

    That is interesting that they are attaining such apparent luminous quality without the use of a large quantity OBA.

    Incidently, have you tried Epson’s Exhibition Fiber, I think you are on Canon so you might not have, but the color rendition from that paper is rather vivid and bright, however it does employ OBAs, I have seen a good tradeoff with Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta which has no OBA but is still very vibrant. If you have tried either of these would interested to hear your opinion vs. Vibrance Metallic.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 15:15h, 25 July Reply

      You’re welcome Chris.

      Metallic really does look like your looking at a slide on a lightbox. The paper feels like plastic, and squeaks when you rub your finger against it, but I don’t know what it’s actually made of.

      I haven’t tried Epson’s Exhibition Fiber, though I used to use Hahnemuhle’s Photo Rag Baryta. I now use Breathing Color’s Vibrance Rag in place of that. It isn’t OBA free, but it’s archival certified, and a beautiful paper to print on. They still just white gloss papers though. Metallic is different again. The depth and luminosity has to be seen to really appreciate.

  • Chris
    Posted at 05:24h, 26 July Reply

    Hi Martin,

    I was able to contact BC about the paper, they indicate a standard print life of about 50 years, which they say is consistent with other RC papers.

    Thank you for the further information.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 10:05h, 26 July Reply

      Aah, I see you also contacted them. I was talking with their Sale VP just this morning (evening in the US) and got the same answer. Good stuff.

  • David G
    Posted at 08:31h, 15 August Reply

    Has anyone order from Breathing Color and shipped internationally? This so far has been a laborious venture. Their sales cart wants to charge me triple for the paper & there is no email updates on the order. Not a great start.

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:29h, 15 August Reply

      Yes, Breathing Color have a ways to go on International ordering. They at least now take international addresses. That has only just been added. I actually just mail my orders in to them. They’re worth a little extra work, believe me.

  • Mark Overgaard
    Posted at 13:57h, 11 January Reply


    Thanks for this blog overall and for all your other writing, videos and podcasts. (So far, I’ve only read the podcast transcripts!). I have both your eBooks, as well. I’ve not done much printing, but based on comments from you and others, I’m going to dig into Breathing Color media. I have a couple trial rolls now, plus an EasyWrappe starter kit, and have just done my first few BC prints today. My question has to do with glossy papers, such as the Vibrance Metallic reviewed here, and how you deliver/display them. I’m very impressed by the first couple prints I’ve done on this paper, but I’m mindful of your concerns about putting glossy prints behind glass, yielding a second layer of reflectivity. The Silverada canvas, which is also metallic, and which I’ve also just used for the first time today, doesn’t have this issue, since it will be displayed as is (assuming that I don’t laminate it). It definitely looks great, as well. So, given your evident enthusiasm for Vibrance Metallic, can you share with us more background on how you intend to display/deliver prints done on that paper? I thank you in advance!


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 14:27h, 11 January Reply

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for picking up the ebooks and for stopping by!

      Great timing on your comment about Silverada, as I’ve just started to look at that this week too. I’ve only printed the profiling patch sets so far, but that’s enough to show me that this is another incredible new media from Breathing Color. I’ll be providing a review here over the next few weeks.

      As for how I deliver my Vibrance Metallic prints, I actually pretty much always ship them rolled, as the majority of my prints are shipped abroad, so it’s not practical to ship them framed. My suggestion though is to source some anti-reflective plexiglass or similar glass frames. For the few framed prints that I have sold domestically here in Japan, although not Vibrance Metallic, I have used anti-reflective plexiglass.

      In addition to that, it’s important to hang framed prints in a place where there are not bright lights directly opposite, or in a position where light will reflect off of them when in your most likely viewing position. This is especially important with something Vibrance Metallic or other glossy media, because the surface is so reflective, although anti-reflective glass will help to reduce this to a degree.

      I hope this helps some.


      • Mark Overgaard
        Posted at 14:41h, 11 January Reply

        Well, that was certainly quick, Martin. Thanks for the split-second turn-around!

        The main focus of my question was how you expect Vibrance Metallic prints to be displayed, and your recommendation is: “behind anti-reflective glass or plexiglass”. Thanks for that answer, which is not unexpected. The further question it raises, however, is whether such a display is likely to seriously detract from the splendid vibrance (!) that prints on this paper seem to have, even to the point where the special benefits of the metallic character of this paper is substantially negated. I gather you’ve not done a lot with this paper yet beyond a few test prints, so it wouldn’t surprise me if I’ll need to wait for your upcoming review for detailed comments. I would, however, like to decide in the next few days whether to parlay my trial roll of the paper into a full roll, so any initial comments you can make would be appreciated.


        • Martin Bailey
          Posted at 15:19h, 11 January Reply

          I’m at the computer doing accounts, so I see the mail come in today. Other times it usually takes me a bit longer to reply. ๐Ÿ™‚

          I haven’t actually seen metallic behind any kind of glass so far, so I can’t say for sure, but I imagine if it’s going to be framed, anti-glare glass would be the way to go, but I find the best way to view Vibrance Metallic is with the print held in your hand. I’m sure you’ve already appreciated the fact that it looks incredible when held at certain angles, or even curved slightly. It will be difficult to reproduce this fully in a frame on the wall, but under those restrictions, I think the first thing to try would still be anti-glare glass. Another thing you might consider is something like the Pavox from Breathing Color.

          This is a great way to display and present paper prints without covering them. This does of course leave them open to sticky paw prints etc. so it may not be for everyone, but it’s something to consider. Again though, I’ve not actually used these myself, as most of my prints are shipped rolled, but I’ve long wanted to give them a try.

          I’ve printed quite a lot on Vibrance Metallic, including a number of customers prints that have gone overseas, and don’t intend to revisit this for my upcoming review. It’s Silverada and the new Vibrance Baryta that I’ll be looking at specifically in the coming weeks.

          Let me know how you get on with your decision about Vibrance Metallic display.

          • Mark Overgaard
            Posted at 00:34h, 12 January Reply

            Thanks, Martin. I won’t assume such split-second response times for the future. ๐Ÿ˜‰

            My question was directly motivated by the challenge of translating the “look in the hand” for Vibrance Metallic into “look on the wall”. Pavox is certainly a possibility.

            Thanks for clarifying that you’ve actually delivered quite a few Vibrance Metallic prints to customers. If any of them happen to be reading this blog, I’d welcome hearing how they chose to display those prints!

            I eagerly await your review of Silverada and Vibrance Baryta. I noticed you were a fan of Vibrance Rag, but that seems to have gone away at BC, right?


            • Martin Bailey
              Posted at 12:11h, 12 January Reply

              Hi Mark,

              Yes, Vibrance Rag has been replaced with Vibrance Baryta. It’s basically the same paper, expect for Baryta is now OBA free, plus, you can smell the baryta!


              • Mark Overgaard
                Posted at 14:15h, 12 January Reply

                Thanks, Martin. I look forward to your further comments on both those BC products!


  • Ron Wolfe
    Posted at 01:43h, 15 October Reply

    This is my first comment to you so thank you for all the information you share. I particularly enjoy your books, and Making the Print has been very helpful for my serious hobby. I did purchase Breathing Color samples and along with the ColorMunki you recommended, built profiles for the papers this past week.

    As you noted, the metallic paper stands out among the papers I tried, especially for the black & white photo I printed. I am using a more basic printer (Canon Pro9000 mark ii) but the results were still impressive on many Breathing Color papers. I did find out that I cannot evaluate the matte papers because my printer does not have Matte Black, so the Photo Black I have cannot get dark enough. Hopefully I can remedy that someday with an improved printer. For now, I profiled and printed on Canon Fine Art Photo Rag so I do finally see what you are talking about when you point out the special look that a matte paper provides. From my analysis, it seems the matte papers draw the eye more “into” the print because the surface (through sheen/gloss, etc..) is not obvious. It is an interesting effect.


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 11:25h, 15 October Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to let me know Ron!

      I’m pleased this has helped you to get deeper into your printing, and appreciate these papers.

      The Pro9000 Mark II is actually a pretty good printer in my opinion. I’m not sure where you heard about the ink issue you mention, but as this printer is great for black and whites, personally, I would just steam ahead. If you are getting good results with the Photo Rag, which is basically a matte paper, then I wouldn’t be too concerned. Do note though that basic matte papers are in general not great with deep blacks anyway. When I talk about printing on matte, I’m generally talking about Optica One or now Pura Smooth.

      All the best!


      • Ron Wolfe
        Posted at 03:25h, 20 October Reply

        Hi Martin,
        I actually did have the problem with the blacks while testing Optica One and Pura Smooth, so perhaps a user error here – though the Canon photo rag did not exhibit this same problem. Since my post, I did buy a Canon Pro9500 mark ii which does have matte black and has a dedicated gray color. I have heard good comments about it’s black & white capability, too. For now, I still have some Breathing Color samples I have saved to test out on the 9500, but I did order some Photo Rag and also just sent BC an order for a supply of Vibrance Metallic. That paper looks wonderful when printed by my dye-based Pro9000. It will be interesting to observe the difference when the pigment-based Pro9500 arrives.

        For the Vibrance Metallic paper, I intend to display it without glass.

        Thanks for your reply!

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:20h, 20 October Reply

      Thanks for the update Ron.

      I’m surprised that you had problems with the 9000 for black and white, as I seem to recall Canon saying that this was a great black and white printer, but I might be wrong.

      Good luck with your 9500 though. I used the 9500 for many years. Great printer!


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