Friday, February 08, 2008


I have neglected reporting on the new printer mostly because I haven't really printed too much with it, yet. Being really sick with the CRUD -- thanks to my students for passing it along to me and now Ellen -- for the past week, it was all I could do to muster the energy to answer emails. Yes, I'm better and was able (barely) to meet with both my classes this week. My plan is to do some more trial printing today -- I've printed some B&W, and now I need to see how it prints color. Funny that I would go the B&W route first, huh? A couple of weeks ago, just after getting the printer, I ordered 8.5x11 boxes of all the new fancy papers -- God, that was an expensive experiment in paper purchasing. Here's what I've been printing the B&W test on:

Hahnemuhle Glossy Fine Art
Ilford Gold Fibre Silk
Harman Gloss FB Ai
Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss
Epson Exhibition Fiber
Innova F-Type Gloss Black
Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl

Those last two in the list are papers I've been printing on for the last year or so, but I wanted them in the group mostly because I wanted to see how they'd print with the new printer. By far, the Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl is the least expensive in the group, and the Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss is by far the most expensive. Remember this is for B&W printing only.

Without doubt the Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss is hands-down fav so far. It prints neutral, period. Its surface is very close to silver paper, and in fact, I had to tell Stephen it was an ink jet print. Literally, if you don't tell people, I don't think they would know. His comment; "You can tell it's an ink jet if you put a loupe on it. "S T E P H E N !!!!!! HELLO! But he begrudgingly agreed it looked very good. Later on in the day, he says to me -- "Uh, I just might use some of that paper to submit some images to a magazine publisher, that stuff's pretty good." I all but pulled the alarm -- I thought I heard the dam crack!!

All of the papers had great dynamic range, but the Hahnemuhle Fine Art Glossy printed red.....???? And the Epson Exhibition Fiber printed green, unacceptably so.

Here was my test procedure: I choose the image file you see above: Canyonlands NP, UT 2007 This images has a lot of rich and dark detail, and at the same, and has brilliant highlights, all surrounded by a lot of mid-tone detail. I wanted to see how all three of these tonal ranges printed. First I took the fully worked and adjusted 16-bit image file, flattened it, convert it to grayscale, and then converted it back to RGB. I wanted an absolutely neutral RGB file to print. I printed this file on the different papers using the specific profile supplied by the manufacture for each of the papers. I was somewhat surprised that some of the papers (the one's mentioned above) didn't print neutral.

Then I took that RGB file, and added color via a color balance layer -- 10Y and 5R in the shadows, and 5Y and 1 R in the highlights. The idea was to create a warm-toned image -- it looks real good on my monitor. Both the Innova Ultra Smooth Gloss and the Harman Gloss FB Ai printed right on with image on the monitor. The other papers were all over the place. The Epson Exhibition Fiber was still green, only more so. Hahnemuhle Fine Art Glossy was even redder than before. The other papers were uninteresting. That's not to say they printed poorly, but when compared to the two best, they didn't just come-in second, it was more like third and fourth.

FYI: printing on the Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl is acceptable and then some for a proofing paper. It has the advantage of being the least expensive in the above list at about $60/100 sheet box. For those of you printing on rolls, it is available is all widths in 100-foot rolls.

Note: I tried printing b&W using the printer's B&W print function -- not just no, but HELL NO.

So now I'm off to find a color images that will put these papers to the test. Stay tuned.

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