Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 Printer Review (Podcast 536)

Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 Printer Review (Podcast 536)

As I mentioned in a recent post, my old large format printer has given up the ghost, so I’ve just had a new Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 installed, and today I’m going to walk you through some of the key new features and provide my opinion of this new printer.

To be totally honest, with my old 24″ iPF6350 breaking after just six years, for a few seconds, I considered moving away from Canon for my large format printing, but then I realized that there was a new line of large format printers that has just been announced, so I decided to take a closer look, and was very excited by what I saw.

Initially, I was simply going to replace my 6350 with the PRO-2000, which is the successor 24″ wide roll media printer, but although this new range of PRO printers are narrower, they are more than twice the height, which means the PRO-2000 cannot be carried up to my 3rd floor studio. It simply will not fit around the top of the stairs, even stood on end.

There was an option to have it crane lifted up to the third floor and go in through the window, but this was going to cost $1,500, and then of course another $1,500 to have it taken down again if I move, or when it inevitably breaks again at some point the future.

I figured if I was going to spend another $3,000 I might as well put that money towards an imagePROGRAF PRO-4000, which is the 44″ wide big brother of the PRO-2000, and have that installed on my 2nd floor instead of up in my studio. And when I say big brother, I really do mean BIG, as you can see in this photo of me with the printer after having it installed (below).

Martin with the Canon PRO-4000 44" Printer

Martin with the Canon PRO-4000 44″ Printer

Before singing the contract, I went to the Canon S Tower here in Tokyo and made a number of large prints on three types of Breathing Color media, and I was very happy with the results. Note that I did my tests on the PRO-2000, before I heard the cost for the crane lift, but the 2000 and 4000 are pretty much identical except for the width of roll media that can be used. This also means that this review will be equally as useful if you are considering the PRO-2000 as it will for the PRO-4000.

Anyway, my PRO-4000 arrived on August 9, and took four people to carry it up to the 2nd floor, and put it onto its stand. I have since spent the last five days setting it up, creating my ICC profiles, and getting to know this beautiful new larger format printer from Canon.

What’s New?

Before we look at some prints, let’s talk a little about what’s new with the PRO-4000. Well, Canon have released a new set of inks for this lineup called LUCIA PRO ink, which actually reduces the number of colors from 12 to 11 pigment inks, but they added a new Chroma Optimizer.

Canon PRO-4000 6 of the 12 Inks

Canon PRO-4000 6 of the 12 Inks

From the Canon web site, I see that “LUCIA PRO ink formulation includes micro encapsulated colorants that enable smooth gradients, an expanded color gamut, and deeper color expression.” In many ways, I agree with this statement, but I’m actually not convinced that the color gamut is expanded. In fact, for some specific situations using matte media I’d the gamut has been contracted a little, but I’ll talk more about this later…

The Chroma Optimizer is used when printing on glossy and semi-glossy media, and acts as a clear coat, improving color and enriches the dark areas of gloss prints. The new inks and Chroma Optimizer are also said to improve scratch resistance and reduce graininess. We’ll take a look at some actual prints shortly.

I was also happy to find that the black line that was always left on the right underside of the prints is no longer a problem. That is something that bugged the hell out of my about my iPF6350 and I know that this was not fixed the 6450, so it’s nice that this is finally fixed.

Only One Print Head

Whereas my old printer had two print heads, costing around $300 each, the new PRO printer lineup use just one, 1.28” wide print head with 18,432 nozzles and anti-clogging technology. This new print head costs around $500, so there’s a $100 saving when that needs to be replaced, assuming that you’d change both heads on the old models of course. Having just the one head also enabled Canon to make the printer narrower in width, which is a nice space saver.

Canon PF-10 Print Head for the PRO-4000

Canon PF-10 Print Head for the PRO-4000

Having just the one print head also enabled Canon to speed up the printing considerably. An 18 x 24 inch print on my old printer used to take around 9 minutes, but with the new PRO-4000 the same size print takes approximate 3 minutes 40 seconds.

New Media Loading Mechanism

The media loading mechanism has also been totally changed. You now load the roll from the front of the printer by opening the Top Cover and the Output Guide as you can see in this photo (below). After dropping the media on its holder into place, you rotate the roll holder which guides the media up into the printer, until you hear a beep, to let you know that the printer can now feed the media.

PRO-4000 with Top Cover and Output Guide Open

PRO-4000 with Top Cover and Output Guide Open

Then, you close the two covers and press a button the LCD display to tell the printer to go ahead and feed the paper. Not only does this mean we don’t have to touch the paper as much, we also now have the benefit of the paper being upside down for most of the time before it’s printed on.

This is a benefit because it means that dust is less likely to settle on the print side of the media as you print, and dust that is already on the media, is more likely to fall off, before it’s printed on. If you print on dust, the dust generally falls off as the print dries, leaving a white spec, and for the quality conscious printer that means that the print has be created again from scratch.

Media Information Update

Another very nice touch that I’m pretty sure I could not do with my old iPF6350, is that you can update the Media Information in the printer drivers on other computers. Before, if I added a custom media type, like a roll of Breathing Color paper, to the printer, to get that same media in the drivers on a different computer, I had to use the Media Configuration Tool and add the media again.

Update Media Information

Update Media Information

Now, you can just go to the printer drivers and open up the Printer Utilities, and select Media Information from the pulldown, and click the button to update the media. This then goes to the printer and compares the media information on the printer, and if it’s different to the media that the printer drivers know about, it will update this information for you. It’s very smooth, and a very welcome feature.

Wifi and Gigabit Ethernet Connectivity

The PRO series of printers now also supports Wifi Connectivity and the wired network interface is now Gigabit Ethernet. We can also still connect to the printer with USB. You can now print PDF and JPEG documents directly from a memory stick as well.

I have now printed with Wifi, LAN and USB, and found Wifi to be a little on the slow side for a decent sized print, so I bought a 10 meter USB cable so that I can print from my dining table, which really speeded things up. Even though it’s only High Speed USB2, it’s much faster than Wifi.

I also actually bought a 20m Ethernet cable, so that I can plug the PRO-4000 directly into my router on the 3F in case I need to do a lot of work from the studio. With USB being so fast, I don’t know I’ll do this often, but I at least now have the option.

Three Sizes of Ink Tanks

Another great improvement in my opinion is the ability to now choose from three sizes of ink tanks, with 160ml, 330ml, and 700ml tanks available. My old iPF6350 took 130ml ink tanks, so even the smallest of the new tanks holds 30ml more ink. I could fill up the new PRO-4000 with 160ml tanks, but now having the option to install larger tanks, and mix and match the sizes, means we can select the tank size based on how quickly the inks run down.

The PRO-4000 comes with a set of ink cartridges holding 190ml. Before we installed the cartridges into the printer, I took this photograph for comparison (below). On the left is a 190ml cartridge, and on the right is a 700ml.

Canon PRO-4000 190ml starter ink and 700ml ink cartridge

Canon PRO-4000 190ml starter ink and 700ml ink cartridge

I have also bought some 330ml cartridges, and was going to include one in this photo too, but they are actually the same size as the 190ml cartridge you see here. The only difference is that they aren’t as heavily indented as this 190ml cartridge. You see how it is inset where it says Canon and the white label is? The 330ml cartridges don’t go in that far, that’s the only difference.

Mix and Match Inks

Over the last six years that I’ve been using my old large format printer, I’ve found that because I do a lot of black and white printing, the Matte Black and Photo Black, and the Gray inks tend to run down the quickest, so I have bought a 700ml tank for the Matte and Photo Blacks and the Photo Gray. So that I could show you the difference in size though, I ordered a 330ml Gray, for comparison with the starter inks, only to find they were the same size, as I just mentioned.

I also bought a 700ml tank for the Chroma Optimizer, because I’ve heard this runs down pretty quickly. At a little more than $300 a pop for the 700ml ink tanks though, I think I will be avoiding using 700ml tanks for all but the heavy usage blacks and grays, unless I start to take quite a few more regular print orders that is. The good thing though is that we now have this option, and being able to mix and match tank sizes is great!

Changing Inks on the Fly

Another great new feature is that the inks are now drawn down into a Sub-Ink Tank System, which allows all of the available ink in a tank to be used before having to replace it, to reduce wasted ink, and better still, empty tanks can now be replaced on the fly, without stopping the printer. I haven’t tried this yet, but that’s what the documentation says.

Multipositional Basket

PRO-4000 Slope Configured Basket

PRO-4000 Slope Configured Basket

The PRO-4000 has a new multi-positional basket that can be adjusted to various configurations. With my iPF6350, where the basket was basically just either stowed, or out, ready to catch a print as it is cut from the roll, I never once allowed a print to fall into the basket.

To avoid scuffing the face of the print, I would always wait until the print had come far enough out of the printer so that it would fall over the edge of the extended bar, leading the print away from the printer to prevent curling. Then, when the print was cut away from the roll, I’d be waiting to catch it.

You can still do a catch basket configuration on the PRO-4000, but also what Canon call flatbed stacking, and my favorite, which is the slope configuration, which you can see in this photo (right).

Although it’s kind of lost with the 18 x 24 inch print shown here, the slope allows the print to be guided away from the printer, and I always go to the printer by the time it’s going to be auto-cut, and catch the print, rather than letting it fall away.

The Red “L” Line

Before we move on from the physical differences, of course, there is the addition of the red line that Canon use on their “L” lens range, to mark that they are the top of the range. This is marketing, but it’s an important statement from Canon, that they have made these printers with their highest standards.

Accounting Manager Software

One thing that I disliked about my old printer is that the Accounting Manager software was only available on Windows, but that’s changed. Now it’s also available for Mac, so I can now track how much ink and paper is being consumed for each print. You simply enter the cost of your various types of media and inks, and the software calculates the cost of each print you make.

This is invaluable for pricing prints, but also, I print for other people sometimes, often with an hourly rate for my time, plus the cost of materials. Until now, I’ve had to start a Parallels session and open the Accounting Manager in Windows, but that’s clunky, so I’ve never liked having to do that, especially in front of the customer. Now I can just crank up the Accounting Manager and see costs instantly, right there on my Mac.

Canon’s Print Studio Pro Has No Border Settings (Corrected)

Another new piece of software from Canon that I tried it their Print Studio Pro, which at first glance looks OK, but I noticed straight away that there was no way to enter specific border dimensions. I like to print my images at a specific offset, slightly above center, and to accomplish this in Lightroom or Capture One, I can enter in the dimensions of the borders down to a tenth of a millimeter accuracy.

In Print Studio Pro, I can move the print around the page with my mouse, but that’s it. There’s no way to enter the border dimensions accurately. I may have missed this, but I searched for a while, and couldn’t find anything, so if it’s there, it’s well hidden.

[UPDATE: Having been prompted by a user comment below, I went back into Print Studio Pro and the border settings were there. I’m not sure what happened initially, but you can set the borders accurately. Sorry about that!]

Check Out Full Details on Canon Web Site

There are other new features, but you can see full details on the Canon Web site. These are just the new features and changes that I’m happy to see in the new PRO-4000, and these all apply to the PRO-2000 as well. The PRO-4000s and PRO-6000S are the new 8 color 44 and 66″ printers, which are not really suitable for fine art photography printing.

So How Good Are the Prints?

Fox on Breathing Color Pura Bagasse Textured Matte Media

Fox on Breathing Color Pura Bagasse Textured Matte Media

Let’s take a look now at a few prints that I’ve already done as tests. First note that although I have bought some 44 inch rolls from my friends at Breathing Color, all of my tests so far have been done using 24 inch roll media. I can’t wait to print something out that is huge, but not until I have an end purpose for the print.

Anyway, after I created a custom ICC profile for each of my media types, I set about doing some test prints. As matte media is usually less forgiving than gloss, I started with the matte stock that I have.

My favorite matte media is Breathing Color’s Pura Bagasse, which comes in both a Smooth and Textured version. I printed this photograph of a Northern Red Fox on the Pura Bagasse Textured, and was very happy with the depth of the color and clarity of the image (right). This is a photograph of the print of course, not the original image.

I printed this from Capture One Pro 9, so there is no point in comparing this to earlier prints, but there is a depth that was not really there on my earlier prints, especially around the eyes, where the clarity really comes into play.

Here’s a close-up of just the eye, so that you can hopefully at least partially appreciate what I’m seeing (below). Note that this was a 7D Mark II photograph printed at 18 x 24 inches, so the resolution was around 250 ppi, which is enough for a print of this size, but not as well defined as a higher resolution image.

Fox Eye Closeup - Pura Bagasse Textured

Fox Eye Closeup – Pura Bagasse Textured

I was happy with this first print, and I did a few others that looked great too, but the next print just didn’t really work under mostly the same conditions as I’d printed before. When I released my review of Breathing Color’s Pura Bagasse media in episode 484, I showed how wide a color gamut the media had, by printing a photo of a field of poppies, that was actually way out of gamut.

Now, given that there should have been no way to print the colors that were out of gamut anyway, this may seem a little bit harsh on the new printer, but having created an ICC profile in exactly the same way for each printer, the PRO-4000 simply doesn’t not handle this photograph as well as my old iPF6350 did.

Here’s a photograph (below) of the same image printed on the same paper, with the iPF6350 print on the left, and my PRO-4000 print on the right. As you can see, the edges of the blotches of out of focus yellow have a nasty almost septic feel to it. The bulk of the yellow is what is out of gamut, and the printer has not handled the transition between that and the in gamut colors well.

iPF6350 (left) and PRO-4000 (right) Comparison

iPF6350 (left) and PRO-4000 (right) Comparison

Like I say, the base photo is out of gamut, but this was the same for both printers, so this indicates to me that the PRO-4000 doesn’t do as well as the iPF6350 in this situation. In all other respects, I think it’s kickin’ but here, I was a little bit disappointed.

[UPDATE: I still don’t know the cause, but it turns out that this issue may be a bug and I’ve found a workaround which I describe in Episode 554.

UPDATE#2: We now have a stable and easy way to overcome these issues, by embedding the custom ICC profile in the custom media type. See details in Episode 573.]

I also did a lot of Pura Bagasse Smooth matte prints, and here is an example of one of these (below). I chose this shot because those transitions from very bright areas of the sky at sunrise, as they transition to the darker clouds, can often be a bit troublesome to print well, but these came out beautifully. Very natural transitions.

Eagle at Sunrise on Pura Bagasse Smooth

Eagle at Sunrise on Pura Bagasse Smooth

Also, note just how dark the eagle is. Matte paper can sometimes lack really deep blacks, but this is not a problem for the PRO-4000. As you can also see in the next photograph, the dark areas behind this young Himba girl in the left print are also beautifully dark (below). The print on the left here is again on Pura Bagasse Smooth, a matte media.

Himba Girl on Pura Bagasse Smooth (left) and Vibrance Metallic (right)

Himba Girl on Pura Bagasse Smooth (left) and Vibrance Metallic (right)

The photo to the right here though (above) was printed on Breathing Color’s Vibrance Metallic media, which is a metallic gloss paper, and that means it also has Canon’s new Chroma Optimizer applied during the printing process.

Like Traditional Darkroom Prints

This may not come across in a photo, but here’s a photo of the Himba Girl print at an angle (below) looking towards the light. I hope you’ll be able to appreciate that the gloss photos from the PRO-4000 are absolutely outstanding. They are totally smooth, looking very much like a traditional darkroom print. They just don’t look like inkjet prints. Do keep in mind though that this image was shot at ISO 5000 so there is a little bit of visible grain in the original, rather than the print.

Himba Girl Print Close-up

Himba Girl Print Close-up

I also printed this photo of some roses with a totally black background, and the depth of the black is just wackily beautiful (below). You can perhaps see a little bit of color in the print, but that’s just reflections from the room.

Printing Roses on Vibrance Metallic

Printing Roses on Vibrance Metallic

OK, so, that’s about all I have for you on the PRO-4000 at this point. Although it looks like I have to do a little more soft proofing and adjustment for out of gamut images than I have done in the past, I’m very happy with this new printer.

The 44″ width is going to allow me to fulfill more orders for large prints directly, which is great. Until now I’ve had to work with third party printing houses for prints larger than 24 x 36″ but now I can go up to 44 x 66″ or even wider for panorama shot, so this opens up new possibilities for me and my customers.

Disclaimer

This review was created totally independently, without any help financially or otherwise from any third party. I paid for the printer myself, at the regular price, and Canon provided no help on the technical details, other than what I gleaned from the product documentation and first hand use of the product.

Support the Podcast

If you found this review useful, and will be buying your own PRO-4000 or maybe the PRO-2000, from my friends at B&H Photo, please use our affiliate link mbp.ac/pro4000 to click through to B&H, and you’ll be helping to support the podcast and blog.


Show Notes

The imagePROGRAF PRO-4000 on B&H: https://mbp.ac/pro4000

Check out the media Martin uses at: https://www.breathingcolor.com

Music by Martin Bailey


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Fine Art Inkjet Paper Printing Tests Part #2 (Podcast 193)

Fine Art Inkjet Paper Printing Tests Part #2 (Podcast 193)

With all the great fine art inkjet papers available today, it can be difficult to find “your” paper. The one paper, or maybe even two or three types of paper, that you turn to for your high quality, fine art prints. Testing papers can be costly, in terms of both time and money. Until now my method has been to print my favorites at the time, and a few prints that I know are troublesome, but it can be difficult to judge how good or bad a paper is based on photographic images alone.

Last week I described what I decided to do about this, which basically is to make test image contain both photographic images and scientific charts, that I would can to build an archive of the various papers that I’m interested in, and that I have available to me. Last week we I went into much more detail about the test itself and how I am bringing the results to you, but I won’t repeat all of that this week. If you didn’t listen to episode 192, I suggest you go back and listen to that first, as much of what I will say today won’t make much sense otherwise.

PDF IconHere is the standalone PDF document including the text and images that I mentioned last week, and there’s also a zip file with loose JPEGs for you to take a look at. I’ve also made the test image that I created available, so that you can use the same image to test your own printer and papers if you want to. It’s around 8 megapixels, so should be good for tests up to 13×19″ and still look great. There are links to all the downloadable files in the show-notes. Let’s jump right into it now though, and see how I got on with my Fine Art Inkjet Paper printing tests.

To me there is nothing quite as satisfying, after capturing the image in the first place, than printing it out on a good quality fine art paper. Inkjet printing technologies have improved to the point where now, in 2009, photographers are able to make archival fine art prints in their homes, that arguably surpass traditional dark room prints in both ease of production and quality. As the printing technology has improved, the number of fine art print papers on the market has also increased, making it difficult to really nail down one or two papers for your own workflow. I buy and try different papers, and often use my favorite print at the time, but that doesn’t really give me a consistent image to compare to my previous papers. I end up printing out the same image again on my original papers as well as the new ones, and with printer ink being as expensive as it is, as well as the paper of course, I decided to standardize my test, to give me a more objective look at the capabilities of new papers as they come out, as well as being able to file away my previous tests for future comparison. Of course, if I change my printer, I’ll have to do this all again, but again, having a standard test devised will make that whole exercise a lot smoother than just randomly picking prints of the day.

I do have a few prints that I really like to try on new paper, and I’m guilty of having printed out a few of these over the last week as well. But in my standard image to print, I decided I wanted to incorporate a couple of images that I have used a lot for testing purposes, and I also created and included a Granger Chart and a Gamut Chart, that I found out how to create on the Luminous Landscape web site. I’ll put a link to the page with the instructions into the show notes, but it literally takes just a couple of minutes to create both charts. I guess it would be easier to understand if you can at least see the chart, so I’ve put the original graphic into the enhanced podcast and the mp3 version, so you can at least see what I’m talking about. For the results, please do grab either the PDF file or the individual images, to which you’ll also find links in the show-notes.

I created my test image with the ProPhoto color profile. I did this because it has the widest gamut, compared to sRGB and AdobeRGB, and it’s also what I specify as my color profile throughout my workflow. If you want to convert this to AdobeRGB for your own tests, do so in Photoshop, using the Convert Profile command, not assign profile. Convert Profile will calculate the colors for you correctly so you’ll still get good results using the image. I inserted two images into my test image, above the Granger and Gamut charts. The flower shot to the left is a good image to print as a test because it is not only nice and colorful, but I’ve found the gradations in the background bokeh to be challenging for some papers to reproduce. Some compact the gradation too much, almost forming a line between the color and the black, but other papers can handle it much better, and I wanted to see this in my tests. The black and white flower to the right is there for three reasons. Firstly, it has a nice neutral black and white tone, so if there is any color cast in the image, I can see it here. Secondly, I find the gradation in the grey background a nice reference point, and finally, I want to see how much punch the paper can reproduce in the white flower with black spots, as well as the rest of the plant. As we’ll see, the results can be very different for some papers.

I put a range of colored cells up both the left and right side. This is a computer generated version of the cells that you’ll find on a Gretag Macbeth Color Checker chart. Now, the thing to note about these cells is that they are a reference. The Granger and Gamut charts as well contain images that your printer will not be able to reproduce fully with today’s technology. The point is to have something standard to compare from paper to paper. We know that the color cells on either side should be a pure red, green and blue, as well as cyan, magenta and yellow for example. I also wanted to see just how close the printer and paper could reproduce the Granger and Gamut charts, because there are some pretty subtle gradations and hues in there. Being able to take one paper and look at it against another is the main point of all this and I’m not that worried that this is not a 100% scientific methodology.

A final word on the test graphic is the boiler plate text. I’ve included this because one of the main reasons for my doing these paper tests right now is because I’m trying to nail down one or two papers for a fine art print project that I’m working on, and I wanted to see how each paper reproduced this text. If you download the test image, by all means, remove the text and copyrights etc for your own tests. All text is on a white background so it will be easy to get rid of. But, if you are going to redistribute the graphic for any reason, please use the one that contains my site address and the copyright notice, or create your own image from scratch. Thanks!

The printer that I used for my tests is a Canon PIXMA Pro 9500. In Japan this is called a Pixus Pro 9500, not Pixma, and it’s the now old version, not the Mark II that Canon has recently brought out to fix banding issues which I personally just don’t see and so won’t be upgrading. For the sake of time, I won’t go into details about the profiles I used for printing either, other than that I used a paper manufacturer’s profile for all papers except the Bergger Fine Art Rag PN62. They don’t have a profile for this paper and my printer combination. The paper that I bought had an insert though that says to print using the Canon profile, which is what I did. By the way, I’m not going to go into details on how to print with a color profile today. I’ve talked about this in the past, and I can go into this again if people want, but right now, let’s assume that you know how to print with a paper/printer profile.

One last word on the process before we start to actually look at the test prints is how I re-digitized the printed pages to show you here. I used my old Epson flat bed scanner, and turned off any and all processing that the scanner drivers would usually do. This means that the resulting images are a little bit flat, but I wanted them to have been scanned under exactly the same conditions, which is what we have here. I saved the originals with the AdobeRGB profile, and then converted to sRGB when I output the JPEGs. I compared the colors and quality, and on a high end Eizo monitor, there’s no difference. Of course, you can’t fully appreciate what I saw when looking directly at the prints, and it is the original prints that I used for comparison and which I will be commenting on here. You can though see the difference pretty well, and much better than I thought you would be able to, so you’ll be able to see close enough what I’m talking about.

I’ve split the papers into three groups, which are gloss and satin papers, fine art rag papers, and textured fine art papers. For my project I really wanted to identify my best choice for a gloss or satin finish, as I’m expecting the prints I release in a paper folio, will be picked up and looked at in the viewer’s hands, rather than hung on a wall in a frame. Of course, I want a paper that will be good for both, but really the tactile feel of the paper and its weight, as well as the look of the face of the paper is important.

Canon Pro Platinum PT-101
The first paper that I printed to in the Gloss and Satin group is the Canon Pro Platinum paper. This is a nice heavy 300gsm, which is grams per square meter, paper which looks and feels very much like a traditional wet darkroom print. This hasn’t been out very long, but I have had very good results with this paper so far. The thing that struck me straight away with this paper was how beautiful the photographs looked. They are reproduced very faithfully, with lots of punch in the black and white flower, a beautiful gradation in the grey background, and the color flower is vivid and the ball of bokeh to the top right of the flower has a very nice gradation to black. Also, the Granger and Gamut chart reproduction is among the best of my tests. To be honest, as I really like the feel of this paper in the hand, I wanted this paper to be perfect in every way, but one thing let it down, and that is the paper’s ability to reproduce a brilliant red. The third cell down along the left side of the test image is basically an FF0000 full RGB red, yet the reproduction here is somewhat orange. Some of you will probably already be thinking to yourself that this is fine, because printer’s never product perfect reds, but remember, the Pixma Pro 9500 has a red ink cartridge. It should be perfect, and I’m disappointed that Canon’s profile doesn’t cash in on the huge advantage that this printer has over one’s without a red ink. Apart from that though, everything else is perfect. I am still very much in love with this paper, but let’s see how it fairs against the others.

Museo Silver Rag
Next up, is the Museo Silver Rag, which is a 100% cotton almost semi-gloss or satin paper with no optical brighteners, and just look at that red. It’s almost a perfect red. In fact, color reproduction is just amazing on beautiful paper from Museo. If you flick between the Pro Platinum image and this one, you can see a number of subtle differences. In general, the silver rag is punchier, though it does make a bit of a mess of the Granger chart on the left, particularly in the middle of the green area. The black and White flower is very punchy too, though the background is significantly darker, but still a very nice gradation. The ball of bokeh on the color flower is also slightly better than the Pro Platinum, which surprised me. Again, this is a 300gsm paper, so very thick and beautiful to handle – a strong contender.

Harman Gloss FB Al (Al for Alumina)
Next I tests Harman’s Gloss FB Al, which is a Baryta coated gloss paper, with a very similar feel to the Pro Platinum from Canon. It’s very smooth, not a satin paper, and again feels very much like a traditional wet darkroom print. It even smells like one, because of the Baryta coating. Again, Harman have made a nice job of utilizing the red, and the colors are actually slightly subdued across the image, compared to the last two papers. There are a few patchy areas in the Granger Chart, but the hues in the Gamut chart are simply beautiful here. Very nice gradations in the grey behind the black and white flower and that ball of bokeh in the color flower. The general feel is not quite as punch as the last two images, but in my opinion this paper realizes a perfect balance in many respects. With this also being just slightly heavier at 320gsm, it is a very strong candidate for a paper to be appreciated held in the hand and because there’s no texture to speak of in the surface of the print, it’s simply beautiful to look at.

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl
I double checked my settings after printing the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl paper, as it was just so dark, but everything seems to be correct. Very rich colors here, and the red is red, but it’s just over the top for me with those over saturated colors. The black and white flower is so dark that you really can’t appreciate it, and the color flower is also very dark compared to the original. This paper is actually from a box that I bought a few years ago, and although it has been stored correctly, I do wonder if the current Fine Art Pearl from Hahnemuhle performs in the same way. It’s very different from all of their other papers which I generally like a lot.

Canson PhotoGloss Premium RC 270gsm
The next paper in the gloss and satin section is Canson PhotoGloss Premium RC 270gsm. I bought a Canson Discovery pack, which included 9 of their fine art papers, and printed out all nine of them for this test. The PhotoGloss Premium is actually very close to the Harman Gloss FB Al, in its ability to reproduce subtle gradation and beautiful hues, and it even messes up the Granger Chart in very similar areas, but unfortunately, the reds are a little on the orange side, like the Canon Pro Platinum. This is my opinion puts it slightly behind Harman on color accuracy, and slightly under Pro Platinum for punch. Still, a very nice well balanced paper and definitely not one to rule out.

Canson PhotoSatin Premium RC 270gsm
The next paper in the gloss and satin section is Canson PhotoSatin Premium RC 270gsm. This is actually very similar in performance to the previous Canson PhotoGloss, so in general, it’s a great paper, again, but with a slightly textured finish, which is just a little too perfect for my liking. I’d prefer a more random pattern in the satin look, though you have to really get up close to see this. Again with slightly off reds, I’m thinking that this would be a great paper, if only I could use the profile out of the box.

Conclusions for the Gloss/Satin papers:
So, that’s all of the gloss or satin papers that I have tested this time. I know that there are others out there, but there are limits to what I can do, both in terms of time and money. If any paper manufacturers that are listening would like me to compare their papers under the same conditions, just send me some and I’ll be happy to do so.

I’ve initially narrowed my selection down to the first three, though this in itself was tough, as many of the papers just look great. For my fine art folio project, I’m probably going to go with the Harman GLOSS FB Al, though it’s very difficult to rule out Museo Silver Rag, or Canon Pro Platinum. It will almost definitely require some tests of the actual images for the project to make a final decision though.

Let’s move on to the rag and matte papers now.

Museo Portfolio Rag
The first one I want to look at is Museo Portfolio Rag. This is an extra smooth matte finish paper, and you’ll be able to see from the scanned image that these rag papers are nowhere near as dynamic as the gloss papers. Rag papers do compliment many types of image, and also pretty much anything printed on them looks good if you frame the print under glass. It’s as though the glass or Perspex adds the gloss back that the paper doesn’t have. Even with that in mind though, I’m not all that impressed with the Museo Portfolio Rag. It’s overall a little too washed out for me, and again that red cell on the left is not red. The black spots on the flower lack punch too. The hue separations in the Gamut chart are nice, and the ball of bokeh to the top right of the color flower is good, as well as pretty smooth transitions in the Granger Chart, but it lacks overall punch, even with the fact that it’s a matte rag paper in mind.

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag
By comparison, I was pleased to see that one of my old favorites, the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag, came through very well. Now, that Granger Chart is wacky, I know, but you can see that this paper has a lot of punch in both flower shots, with very smooth gradations, and a relatively dark black for a photo rag, and again, one thing that I keep coming back to is that red cell. Here again, it’s red, which is a good thing. If anything, for a rag paper, the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag is maybe a little too punchy, but it holds this well in both black and white and color images, and so for this kind of paper pretty much remains my favorite, except for when held in the hand because it’s a very thin paper.

Harman MATTE FB Mp
I also tested the Harman MATTE FB Mp paper, which I found to be a very close contender to the Hahnemuhle. The red is very close too, and the Granger and Gamut charts are definitely better. The overall look is very slightly muted compared to the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag and the grays seem a little too dense, but when you think that the Hahnemuhle is perhaps even a little too punchy for a rag, Harman may be on to something with this Matte FB Mp.

Canon Fine Art Premium Matte
The Canon Fine Art Premium Matte was very nice for the black and white flower. I love the look I got here, and the Granger and Gamut charts are very nice. I was disappointed with the separation between the color flower’s bokeh ball and the dark background though. That’s too sharp a line there, and again, Canon missed the mark with the red, and the green and blue for that matter. It’s not so expensive though this paper, and for a black and white image, I would still give it a try.

Bergger Fine Art Rag PN62
Next up is the Bergger Fine Art Rag PN62 paper. Now this paper I like in many ways, especially the black and white flower and the Granger and Gamut charts are beautiful, though perhaps a little pale. I’m not so happy with the red cell again, and the gradation of the bokeh ball in the color flower shot is pretty harsh, which is not surprising because I had to use the same profile. In general though, this is a very nice rag paper. If they come out with a profile that maps the reds better and improved the gradations, this will be a serious contender. It looks great and feels really nice too.

Canson Rag Photographique 210gsm
The Canson Rag Photographique 210gsm is a beautiful paper when it comes to the black and white flower, and the Gamut Chart looks great too, The profile maps some of the green area to yellow, as we can see with the Granger chart, and the line between the background and the ball of bokeh in the color flower is a little bit harsh. A little on the thin side for hand holding the print, and the red is a little off, but all in all a nice paper.

Conclusions for the Photo Rag papers:
I still very much like the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag for image quality, and my tests have reinforced this, but as I touched on earlier, the problem I have with the Hahnemuhle Rag is that it’s really flimsy at 188gsm. In the hand it doesn’t feel much thicker than a sheet of cheap copy paper. On the other hand the Bergger Fine Art Rag is 315gsm, so you can really feel the quality when handling the print and with those very subtle colors and overall quality I’m thinking this is a contender for the more subtly toned folios that I’ll put together. I didn’t like what the Bergger paper did to the gradation in my ball of bokeh, and the red was slightly off, but if they make a profile for this paper, I’ll review the decision again. I’d say that if I need a Photo Rag for a project that will be hung behind glass, I’ll use the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag. If the print is to be held in the hand, my decision would be the Harman MATTE FB Mp paper. This is not a Photo Rag, but it is archival quality Baryta paper, and very nice to hold, at 310gsm.

Textured Papers

Museo MAX
Museo MAX is a rich paper with great color and black and white image reproduction, and we can see from the Granger and Gamut charts that is is well balance. It’s reproduced the bokeh ball top right of the color flower very well, and the black and white flower image is beautiful, with really wonderful tonal qualities. The red is a little weak, but overall a very balanced paper. I could probably overlook that red for the benefits that the rest gives me. The only downside is that this paper is a tad on the thin side at 250gsm, at least compared to the other papers.

Hahnemuhle Museum Etching
The Hahnemuhle Museum Etching paper is heavy at 350gsm. The heaviest I have tested. In fact, I’ve been using this paper for some time now. This paper is so heavy that I had to source wider tubes to ship fine art prints on this paper, because it didn’t like being rolled tightly enough to fit into my regular shipping tubes. Color reproduction is great and this paper has those rich reds as well. The Granger Chart is a little wacky again, but you can see how rich this paper prints it’s colors and the gradation of the bokeh ball is although a little hard as it goes to black, a very smooth gradation. This paper remains a favorite.

Canson BFK Rives 310gsm
The next six papers are all from the Canson Discovery Pack. The Canson BFK Rives 310gsm paper blew me away coming out of the printer. The black and white flower is beautiful, and great charts, as well as the bokeh ball, though it has a slightly harsh transition to black. The red is a little on the week side. Compared to the Hahnemuhle I did feel that it lacked punch to a degree, overall it’s a very nice subtle paper, worthy of consideration for a project.

Canson Arches Velin Museum Rag 250gsm
The Canson Arches Velin Museum Rag 250gsm paper looks very similar to the previous BFK Rives paper. It’s a little thinner at 250 gsm, but that is about the only difference. Again, the black and white flower is beautiful, and great charts, as well as the bokeh ball, though it has a slightly harsh transition to black. The red is a little on the week side, but again, overall it’s a very nice subtle paper.

Canson Edition Etching Rag 310gsm
The Canson Edition Etching Rag 310gsm and the last paper, the Velin Museum Rag, have a texture similar to the Hahnemuhle Museum Etching paper. This paper has a slightly sharp line around the bokeh ball on the color flower shot, but again, very nicely balanced, subtle tonal ranges and colors. If that red was there, it would be a firm winner.

Canson Arches Aquarelle Rag 240gsm
The Canson Arches Aquarelle Rag 240gsm paper is a very similar paper to the last as far as color and tonal reproduction is concerned. There’s still a slightly sharp line around the bokeh ball on the color flower shot, but again, very nicely balanced, though the red is off a little. The thing that really hits you with this paper though is the very heavy texture, almost like a canvas. Not a favorite, but would definitely have a place in the workflow of a photographer looking for something different texture wise.

Canson Montval Aquarelle 310gsm
The Canson Montval Aquarelle 310gsm paper is again similar in color and tonal reproduction ability to the other Canson papers. This paper has a deep texture but smooth, not harsh. The dimples that make the texture are big and smooth. There’s a strange transition to the black background around the bokeh ball that doesn’t really show well in the scanned image, and again, the red is a little on the week side.

Canson Mi-Teintes 170gsm
The last paper in the Canson Discover Pack and the last one that I looked at this time is the Canson Mi-Teintes 170gsm paper. This in my opinion has slightly richer colors and tonal qualities. The black and white flower here has more punch than some of the other Canson papers. The gradations are nice and the red is actually a little closer to a true red than many of the papers that are off. This is a specialist paper though, with a honeycomb style texture that you can see in the scanned image pretty well. This will have a place for some work, but I personally think this texture is too ordered. I prefer a texture to be more random than this.

Conclusion for Textured Papers
It’s really a very close call here for me between the Hahnemuhle Museum Etching and the Museo MAX. The Hahnemuhle has that wonderful rich red, but the Museo MAX is overall better balanced. Both have a very similar texture, though the Hahnemuhle is heavier. When it comes to price, Hahnemuhle Museum Etching is $100 for 20 sheets of 13 x 19” paper, which is $5 a sheet, compared to the Museo MAX at $63 for 25 sheets or $2.50 per sheet, so it’s about half the price. I would do a few test prints on each paper of actual images for a project, and if the lack of the rich red was either unimportant or unnoticeable, I would almost certainly go with the Museo MAX for my choice of Textured Fine Art paper.

Finishing comments
So that’s it for my recent printer tests. Now that I have decided on my testing process, and done my first batch of prints, I’m really excited that I have this reference to guide me when trying to decide what paper to use. With most of these papers being absolutely wonderful, I really don’t want to rule any out fully. The projects I jump into will always dictate the paper to select, and the paper may in turn guide my decisions as to what images to include in the project. Having this reference to build on though puts me in a much better position to make the right decisions that before.

I hope you enjoyed walking through my tests with me and that it will help you in some way to either decide on your papers or to help with similar testing. Remember that I’ll follow up this Podcast with a PDF document containing both the text and the images, as well as publishing the test image and scanned test print images for you to look at and compare for yourself. Links will be in the snow-notes. Remember also though, that these are my own tests based on my semi-scientific approach, and so if you are in doubt, you really should run your own tests before making any decisions or ruling out any of the papers I’ve talked about here.

Before we finish, just a quick word about the MBP Photography assignment. I just locked the May Nothing in Focus album and turned on the voting system for the next two week. Please take a moment to vote, as there are some great images in there again this month. The June Assignment is courtesy of Morton Goldberg, and it is Everything in Focus! This is the opposite of the May Assignment of course, and a great idea, so thanks very much for that Morton. So, let’s get out there and see what we can shoot with Everything in Focus, and in the meantime, you just have a great week, whatever you’re doing. Bye bye.


Show Notes

You can download my test chart for your own testing here (it’s a big file though, so please only download it if you intend to use it.):

https://martinbaileyphotography.com/downloads/Martin_Bailey_Inkjet_Print_Test_Image_ProPhotoRGB.tif

Martin Bailey Inkjet Print Test Image

Martin Bailey Inkjet Print Test Image

By all means, remove the text and copyrights etc for your own tests, but if you decide to redistribute the graphic, please use the one that contains my site address and the copyright notice. Thanks!

You can also download the loose files in JPEG form here:

https://martinbaileyphotography.com/downloads/Fine_Art_Inkjet_Print_Test_JPGs.zip

You can make your own Granger Chart and Gamut Chart very easily in Photoshop. I found the instructions for this on the Luminous Landscape here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/test-charts.shtml

The music in this episode is from the PodShow Podsafe Music Network at http://music.podshow.com/


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Fine Art Inkjet Paper Printing Tests Part #2 (Podcast 193)

Fine Art Inkjet Paper Printing Tests Part #1 (Podcast 192)

With the plethora of great fine art inkjet papers available today, it can be difficult to find “your” paper. The one paper, or maybe even two or three types of paper, that you turn to for your high quality, fine art prints. Testing papers can be costly, in terms of both time and money. Until now my method has been to print my favorites at the time, and a few prints that I know are troublesome, but it can be difficult to judge how good or bad a paper is based on photographic images alone. At some point, something slips through the net and catches you unaware.

PDF IconHaving put some thought into this, I decided to make test image contain both photographic images and scientific charts, that I would can to build an archive of the various papers that I’m interested in, and that I have available to me. I printed on twenty high quality photographic and fine art papers, and in this and the next Podcast episode we’re going take a look at the results. Here you can download a standalone PDF document including the text and images.

I’ve also made the test image that I created available, so that you can use the same image to test your own printer and papers if you want to. It’s around 8 megapixels, so should be good for tests up to 13×19″ and still look great. You can download the test print with the link or thumbnail in the notes at the end of this post. Let’s jump right into it now though, and see how I got on with my Fine Art Inkjet Paper printing tests.

To me there is nothing quite as satisfying, after capturing the image in the first place, than printing it out on a good quality fine art paper. Inkjet printing technologies have improved to the point where now, in 2009, photographers are able to make archival fine art prints in their homes, that arguably surpass traditional dark room prints in both ease of production and quality, and definitely in variety. As the printing technology has improved, the number of fine art print papers on the market has also increased, making it difficult to really nail down one or two papers for your own workflow or projects. I buy and try different papers, and often use my favorite print at the time, but that doesn’t really give me a consistent image to compare to my previous papers. I end up printing out the same image again on my original papers as well as the new ones, and with printer ink being as expensive as it is, as well as the paper of course, I decided to standardize my test, to give me a more objective look at the capabilities of new papers as they come out, as well as being able to file away my previous tests for future comparison. Of course, if I change my printer, I’ll have to do this all again, but again, having a standard test devised will make that whole exercise a lot smoother than just randomly picking prints of the day.

I do have a few prints that I really like to try on new paper, and I’m guilty of having printed out a few of these over the last week as well. But in my standard image to print, I decided I wanted to incorporate a couple of images that I have used a lot for testing purposes, and I also included both a Granger Chart and a Gamut Chart, that I found out how to create on the Luminous Landscape web site. I’ll put a link to the page with the instructions into the show notes, but it literally takes just a couple of minutes to create both charts. I guess it would be easier to understand if you can at least see the chart, so I’ve put the original graphic into the enhanced podcast and the mp3 version, so you can at least see what I’m talking about. For the results, please do grab either the PDF file once released or the individual images, to which you’ll also find links in the show-notes.

I created my test image with the ProPhoto color profile. I did this because it has the widest gamut, compared to sRGB and AdobeRGB, and it’s also what I specify as my color profile throughout my photographic workflow. If you want to convert this to AdobeRGB for your own tests, do so in Photoshop, using the Convert Profile command, not assign profile. Convert Profile will calculate the new color mapping correctly so you’ll still get good results using the image. I inserted two images into my test image, above the Granger and Gamut charts. The color flower shot to the left is a good image to print as a test because it is not only nice and colorful, but I’ve found the gradations in the background bokeh to be challenging for some papers to reproduce and there are some subtle tones in the dark background that some papers struggle with too. The black and white flower to the right is there for three reasons. Firstly, it has a nice neutral black and white tone, so if there is any color cast in the image, I can see it here. Secondly, I find the gradation in the grey background a nice reference point as well as the density of the grey, and finally, I want to see how much punch the paper can reproduce in the white flower with black spots, as well as the rest of the plant. As we’ll see, the results can be different for some papers, but I warn you, pretty much all of the papers tested do a reasonable to great job. I have tested some papers in the past that really messed this black and white photograph up.

I put a range of colored cells up both the left and right side. This is a computer generated version of the cells that you’ll find on a Gretag Macbeth Color Checker chart. Now, the thing to note about these cells is that they are a reference and not supposed to be 100% accurate. The Granger and Gamut charts as well contain colors that your printer will not be able to reproduce fully with today’s technology. The point is to have something standard to compare from paper to paper, to help us see how the manufacturer’s profile is mapped across the spectrum.

A final word on the test image is the boiler plate text. I’ve included this because one of the main reasons for my doing these paper tests right now is because I’m trying to nail down one or two papers for a fine art print folio project that I’m working on, and I wanted to see how each paper reproduced this text as well. If you download the test image, by all means, remove the text and copyrights etc for your own tests. All text is on a white background so it will be easy to get rid of. But, if you are going to redistribute the graphic for any reason, please use the one that contains my site address and the copyright notice, or create your own image from scratch. Thanks!

The printer that I used for my tests is a Canon PIXMA Pro 9500 with standard Canon inks. In Japan this printer is called a Pixus Pro 9500, and it’s the now old version, not the Mark II that Canon has recently brought out to fix banding issues which I personally just don’t see and so won’t be upgrading. I used the manufacturer’s profiles for printing all of these papers except for the Bergger Fine Art Rag PN62. They don’t have a profile for this paper and my printer combination. I mailed Bergger for advice on this, and they were quick to get back to me to point out a typo in my inquiry, telling me that they don’t make such a paper, but when I told them the correct paper they ignored my mail, so full points for customer service there. Luckily though, the company that is importaing Bergger paper into Japan put an insert into the package that says to print using the Canon profile, which is what I did. By the way, I’m not going to go into details on how to print with a color profile today. I’ve talked about this in the past, and I can go into this again if people want, but right now, let’s assume that you know how to print with a printer/paper combination profile.

One last word on the process before we start to actually look at the test prints is how I re-digitized the printed pages to show you here. I used my old Epson flat bed scanner, and turned off any and all processing that the scanner drivers would usually do. This means that the resulting images are a little bit flat, but I wanted them to have been scanned under exactly the same conditions, which is what we will look at. I saved the originals with the AdobeRGB profile, and then converted to sRGB when I output the JPEGs from Lightroom. I compared the colors and quality, and on a high end Eizo monitor, there’s very little difference. Of course, you can’t fully appreciate what I saw when looking directly at the prints, and it is the original prints that I used for comparison and which I will be commenting on here.

I’ve split the papers into three groups, which are gloss and satin papers, smooth fine art rag papers, and textured fine art papers. As I say, today we’re going to look at the gloss papers only, with the other two groups covered next week.

Canon Pro Platinum PT-101

The first paper that I printed to in the Gloss and Satin group is the Canon Pro Platinum paper. This is a nice heavy 300gsm, which is grams per square meter, paper which looks and feels very much like a traditional wet darkroom print. This hasn’t been out very long, but I have had very good results with this paper so far. The thing that struck me straight away with this paper was how beautiful the photographs looked. They are reproduced very faithfully, with lots of punch in the black and white flower, a beautiful gradation in the grey background, and the color flower is vivid and the ball of bokeh to the top right of the flower has a very nice gradation to black. Also, the Granger and Gamut chart reproduction is among the best of my tests. To be honest, as I really like the feel of this paper in the hand, I wanted this paper to be perfect in every way, but one thing let it down, and that is the paper’s ability to reproduce a brilliant red. The third cell down along the left side of the test image is basically an FF0000 full RGB red, yet the reproduction here is somewhat orange. Some of you will probably already be thinking to yourself that this is fine, because printer’s never product perfect reds, but remember, the Pixma Pro 9500 has a red ink cartridge. It should be perfect, and I’m disappointed that Canon’s profile doesn’t cash in on the huge advantage that this printer has over one’s without a red ink. Apart from that though, everything else is perfect. I am still very much in love with this paper, but let’s see how it fairs against the others.

Museo Silver Rag

Next up, is the Museo Silver Rag, which is a 100% cotton almost semi-gloss or satin paper with no optical brighteners, and just look at that red. It’s almost a perfect red. In fact, color reproduction is just amazing on beautiful paper from Museo. If you flick between the Pro Platinum image and this one, you can see a number of subtle differences. In general, the silver rag is punchier, though it does make a bit of a mess of the Granger chart on the left, particularly in the middle of the green area. The black and White flower is very punchy too, though the background is significantly darker, but still a very nice gradation. The ball of bokeh on the color flower is also slightly better than the Pro Platinum, which surprised me. Again, this is a 300gsm paper, so very thick and beautiful to handle – a strong contender.

Harman Gloss FB Al (Al for Alumina)

Next I tests Harman’s Gloss FB Al, which is a Baryta coated gloss paper, with a very similar feel to the Pro Platinum from Canon. It’s very smooth, not a satin paper, and again feels very much like a traditional wet darkroom print. It even smells like one, because of the Baryta coating. Again, Harman have made a nice job of utilizing the red, and the colors are actually slightly subdued across the image, compared to the last two papers. There are a few patchy areas in the Granger Chart, but the hues in the Gamut chart are simply beautiful here. Very nice gradations in the grey behind the black and white flower and that ball of bokeh in the color flower. The general feel is not quite as punch as the last two images, but in my opinion this paper realizes a perfect balance in many respects. With this also being just slightly heavier at 320gsm, it is a very strong candidate for a paper to be appreciated held in the hand and because there’s no texture to speak of in the surface of the print, it’s simply beautiful to look at.

Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl

I double checked my settings after printing the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Pearl paper, as it was just so dark, but everything seems to be correct. Very rich colors here, and the red is red, but it’s just over the top for me with those over saturated colors. The black and white flower is so dark that you really can’t appreciate it, and the color flower is also very dark compared to the original. This paper is actually from a box that I bought a few years ago, and although it has been stored correctly, I do wonder if the current Fine Art Pearl from Hahnemuhle performs in the same way. It’s very different from all of their other papers which I generally like a lot.

Canson PhotoGloss Premium RC 270gsm

The next paper in the gloss and satin section is Canson PhotoGloss Premium RC 270gsm. I bought a Canson Discovery pack, which included 9 of their fine art papers, and printed out all nine of them for this test. The PhotoGloss Premium is actually very close to the Harman Gloss FB Al, in its ability to reproduce subtle gradation and beautiful hues, and it even messes up the Granger Chart in very similar areas, but unfortunately, the reds are a little on the orange side, like the Canon Pro Platinum. This is my opinion puts it slightly behind Harman on color accuracy, and slightly under Pro Platinum for punch. Still, a very nice well balanced paper and definitely not one to rule out.

Canson PhotoSatin Premium RC 270gsm

The next paper in the gloss and satin section is Canson PhotoSatin Premium RC 270gsm. This is actually very similar in performance to the previous Canson PhotoGloss, so in general, it’s a great paper, again, but with a slightly textured finish, which is just a little too perfect for my liking. I’d prefer a more random pattern in the satin look, though you have to really get up close to see this. Again with slightly off reds, I’m thinking that this would be a great paper, if only I could use the profile out of the box.

Conclusions for the Gloss/Satin papers:

So, that’s all of the gloss or satin papers that I have tested this time. I know that there are others out there, but there are limits to what I can do, both in terms of time and money. If any paper manufacturers that are listening would like me to compare their papers under the same conditions then add the results to this, just send me some paper and a set of inks and I’ll be happy to do so.

I’ve initially narrowed my selection down to the first three that we looked at, though this in itself was tough, as many of the papers just look great. For my fine art folio project, I’m probably going to go with the Harman GLOSS FB Al, though it’s very difficult to rule out Museo Silver Rag, or Canon Pro Platinum. It will definitely require some tests of the actual images for the project to make a final decision though. Luckily I have plenty of this paper left to try before placing an order for a larger batch for the project.

We’re going to cover the Photo Rag and Matte papers, as well as the Textured Fine Art papers next week. There are just a few other things that I wanted to touch on before we close for today though.

Now, I know that some people are going to tell me that if I profile these papers myself, I could get over that weak red in some of these strong candidates. Although I would like to get into profiling my papers, just because I really like this stuff, it’s time consuming and I don’t want to spend that amount of time unless I have to. Also, with so many papers already having profiles that pretty much just work I don’t think it’s necessary to get into this. If it was critical, and I really had to use a certain type of paper that wasn’t performing as I need it to, I might reconsider this decision, but for now, I’m happy enough with the profiles available in the most part.

Finishing comments

I hope you enjoyed walking through the first part of my tests and that it will help you in some way to either decide on your papers or to help with similar testing. Remember that I’ll follow up this Podcast at some point this week with a PDF document containing both the text and the images. The original test image and scanned test print images are all online now for you to look at and compare for yourself. Links to these files are in the snow-notes. Remember also that these are my own tests based on my semi-scientific approach, and so if you are in doubt, you really should run your own tests before making any decisions or ruling out any of the papers I’ve talked about here. Anyway, I’ll be back again next week with some more results. In the meantime, you just have a great week, whatever you’re doing. Bye bye.


Show Notes

You can download my test chart for your own testing here (it’s a big file though, so please only download it if you intend to use it.):

https://martinbaileyphotography.com/downloads/Martin_Bailey_Inkjet_Print_Test_Image_ProPhotoRGB.tif

Martin Bailey Inkjet Print Test ImageBy all means, remove the text and copyrights etc for your own tests, but if you decide to redistribute the graphic, please use the one that contains my site address and the copyright notice. Thanks!

You can also download the loose files in JPEG form here:

https://martinbaileyphotography.com/downloads/Fine_Art_Inkjet_Print_Test_JPGs.zip

You can make your own Granger Chart and Gamut Chart very easily in Photoshop. I found the instructions for this on the Luminous Landscape here: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/essays/test-charts.shtml


Audio

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Michael Rammell

Posted on behalf of Martin by Michael Rammell, a Wedding Photographer based in Berkshire, England. Michael also has a long-standing passion for Nature & Landscape photography. To catch up with Michael, visit his Web site, and follow him on the following social networking services.

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