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Fine Art Photographic Papers

Introduction and Methodology

This month I’m looking at photographic papers from world-renown manufactures. These include papers from Hahemühle, Canson, Permajet, and Marrutt. (Epson papers to be reviewed at a later date)

Papers will be printed on the impressive Epson SureColor P800 with OEM ink.

Photoshop CC 2020 editing software is utilised on calibrated Apple 5K 27in iMac. The iMac screen was calibrated with a Datacolor Spyder X Elite (full review January 2020)

The review is based on individual fine art papers, I’m not comparing papers from the various manufacturers due to the differing price points.

This review is based on my perceptions as a professional photographer.

The images used were selected based on content, colour and personal choice. All paper samples were supplied for review at no cost.

The review will be impartial with no remuneration from the paper suppliers.

Each paper is printed utilising the specific ICC (International Color Consortium) profile from each manufacturer. Photoshop was allowed to manage colour and the printer colour management was disabled.

Review Criteria

The following criteria will be used for each paper:

Description, including look, feel and weight

Test Image

Impressions and final results

The Epson SureColor P800 detects the type of paper when loaded, In most instances, it selected ‘Fine Art Velvet’, the Cason ‘Baryta Prestige’ was selected as a glossy paper. I disabled the printers colour management, this is for information only.

All images of the prints posted in the blog are photographs of the actual printed results and the sharpness may appear reduced. All the papers produced acceptably sharp images.

Permajet Papers

Permajet a UK based company specialising in a wide variety of photographic papers and printing-related products.

Papers Reviewed:

  • Museum Heritage
  • Portrait White
  • FB Pearl

Permajet Museum Heritage 310gsm

This is a heavyweight coated paper with random undulations and texture. The paper is an ‘alpha /cotton’ mix and feels like a thin card. The colour is described by Permajet as a mid-white, its slightly warm and could also be described as pale cream. The paper is acid-free and designed to be water-resistant and scuff resistant.

Test

The image printed was based on the slightly warm tone and texture of the paper; an autumnal photograph with warm colours and tones was selected.

Impressions and Rating

The colours are rich and vibrant, closely matching the colours on the screen, details are crisp with minimal bleeding. The paper did show mild signs of cockling (distortion due to the absorption of ink) this appears to be well controlled.

This paper was touch dry immediately, however, it’s advisable never to touch the printing surface, even when fully dried. The paper was laid on a flat surface and allowed to dry naturally.

It’s no wonder that ‘Museum Heritage’ is one of Permajet’s most popular papers, colour rendition and tonal transitions are excellent, the paper remained stable during and after printing. All signs of mild cockling had been resolved with no distortion being visible. A new favourite of mine.

Manufactures Techincal Information 

  • Weight – 310gsm
  • Thickness – 0.50mm
  • Base Fibre – 25% Cotton / 75% Alpha Cellulose
  • Whiteness – 91%
  • Coatings – Single-sided, acid-free textured fine art paper
  • Primary Features – pH neutral, Excellent colour saturation & Image sharpness, High fade & water resistance.
  • Optical Brightening Agents (OBA) – Yes

Permajet FB Pearl 300gsm

This is heavy paper at 300gsm, feels like a thin card, acid-free and coated. The fibres of the paper appear uniform with fine undulations, described as a flat paper under the ‘Baryta ‘ range. I would describe the paper as a semi-gloss or soft sheen (Pearl) with mildly reflective properties. The colour of the paper being off-white.

Test

I choose a monochrome image for the FB Pearl, this image contains subtle tonal transitions with bright highlights and deep blacks.

Impressions and Rating

The church image is beautifully rendered with excellent tonal transitions. The blacks are deep in contrast to the bright highlights. The Image retains its sharpness and dark shadows retaining the finest details.

This ‘FB Pearl White’ is a delightful paper. This paper renders a stunning image with fine detail and excellent levels of sharpness.

Manufactures Technical Information 

  • Weight – 300gsm
  • Thickness – 0.34mm
  • Whiteness – 94%
  • Coatings – Single-sided acid-free, fine art pearl paper Primary Features – High D-MAX, Excellent colour saturation & image sharpness, exceptional grey balance, high fade & water resistance.
  • Optical Brightening Agents (OBA) – No

Permajet Portrait White 285gsm

This is a heavy bright white fine art paper, it feels like a thin card with slight undulations adding mild texture. The paper is acid-free, coated and then ‘Calendared’ (Rolled flat at the end of the papermaking process).

Test

Due to the brightness of the paper, I chose a monochrome photograph of a young lady. The tonal transitions are very subtle with bright highlights and deep shadows.

Impressions and Rating

The ‘Portrait White’ paper is exceptionally bright allowing for great contrast, highlights and shadows are well controlled, retaining fine details. Tonal transitions on the girl’s face are handled beautifully, silky smooth and seamless. There was mild cockling immediately after printing, this resolved with no visible distortion

The final results are outstanding.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Weight – 285gsm
  • Thickness – 0.47mm
  • Base Fibre – 100% Alpha Cellulose
  • Whiteness – 105.5%
  • Coatings – Single-sided, acid-free smooth fine art paper
  • Primary Features – pH neutral, Excellent colour saturation & image sharpness, High fade & water resistance, Optical brighteners.
  • Optical Brightening Agents (OBA) – Yes

Canson Papers

Canson is a French company being founded in 1557, making it the oldest paper manufacturer still in business. They specialise in producing fine art papers for a variety of artists.

Papers Reviewed:

Aquarelle Rag

Baryta Prestige

Rag Photographique

Canson Aquarelle Rag 310gsm

This heavy fine art paper with a unique texture. Its 100% cotton and feels almost canvas-like. The paper is acid-free and the colour is described as warm-white.

Test

I choose a monochrome image of Lough Key folly for this highly textured paper.

Impressions and Rating

This view of Lough key in monochrome was an ideal image for this paper, the textured surface adds extra depth. The image is rendered beautifully, tonal transitions are smooth, highlights and shadows retain the finest details.

The ‘Aquarelle Rag’ is a beautifully constructed paper, very stable throughout the printing process. While the textured surface adds to this print it may possibly distract in others, this will come down to personal choice. The highlights and shadows were handled well, tonal transitions were smooth. This is a top-quality paper, given the right image and this paper excels.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Material – Mould-made
  • 100% Cotton Rag Weight 310 gsm
  • Thickness23.6 mil / 0.599 mm
  • Whiteness 0.8305%
  • Internally buffered -Yes
  • Acid-free paper – Yes
  • OBA Content- No
  • Drying Rate- Immediate
  • Water Resistance – High Surface Finish -Textured matte

Canson Baryta Prestige 340gsm

This is a very heavy paper at 340gsm, flat and smooth with a barium sulphate coating to the fibrous paper. The paper feels like thick card due to its weight and density, a white paper made with an alpha-cellulose and cotton base.

Test

Baryta papers allow for deeper blacks and great detail in shadows. I have chosen a colour print with a deep black background.

Impressions and Rating

The image is stunning, blacks are extremely deep, colour is rich and vibrant. The fine details were rendered accurately, highlights are bright providing great contrast against the sublime blacks.

This ‘Baryta Prestige’ is a superb example of a baryta paper, densely packed fibres with great weight add class-leading stability. The black levels are outstanding, colours seeming to pop from the paper. Tonal variations are wonderfully handled with soft and delicate transitions.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Weight – 340gsm
  • Thickness – 370 um
  • Surface feel – Extra smooth
  • Surface finish – Gloss
  • Composition – Alpha-cellulose and cotton
  • CIE Whiteness – 112%
  • ISO 2471 Opacity – 99
  • Internally buffered – Yes
  • Acid-free paper – Yes
  • OBA content – Very low
  • Drying time – Immediate
  • Water-resistance – High

Canson Rag Photographique 310gsm

This heavy fine art paper is flat with no visible texture, off white (pale cream) and made from 100% cotton. The paper is soft to the touch, very smooth and beautifully finished, reminds me of brushed cotton bed linen, warming and great to handle.

Test

I selected a moorland image with soft colour tones and calm waters.

Impressions and Rating

The image has been rendered beautifully the papers softness adds a new dimension to the image. Moorland colours are faithfully reproduced, the low cloud is soft, delicate and tonal transitions are smooth. There was evidence of mild cockling however this was resolved with no evidence of distortion.

It’s easy to see why the ‘Rag photographique’ is a popular Cason paper amongst photographers. Colours are bright and tonal transitions are smooth and the softness adds a welcomed depth to the image.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Weight 310 gsm
  • Thickness – 466 un
  • Surface feel – Smooth
  • Surface finish – Matte
  • Composition – 100% cotton
  • CIE Whiteness – 89,80%
  • ISO 2471 Opacity – 99.34
  • Internally buffered – Yes
  • Acid-free paper – Yes
  • OBA content – None
  • Drying time – Immediate
  • Water-resistance – High

Marrutt Papers

Marrutt is based in Sussex in the UK the company was formed in 1950. They specialise in photographic papers, 3rd party printer inks and various presentation products.

Papers Reviewed:

Smooth Fine Art Production

Fine Art Production

Marrutt Smooth Fine Art Production 312gms

This is a heavy fine art paper, 100% rag cotton and coated. The colour is a natural white (slightly warm) that is acid and OBA (Optical Brightening Agents) free. The paper is smooth with a uniform texture.

Test

The paper has a slightly warm tone, I selected a colour image with sand in the foreground with graduated colour layers ending in brilliant blue skies.

Impressions and Rating

This image was rendered beautifully, colours vibrant and extremely accurate. Tonal transitions are sublime with smooth gradients. The warmth of the paper added a depth to the image, The paper showed signs of mild cockling this resolved with no evidence of distortion.

The ‘Smooth Fine Art Production‘ is superbly manufactured and stable throughout the printing process. It was touch dry from the printer and the colours popped from the image. This Marrutt paper holds its own with other 100% Rag Cotton fine art papers tested. Excellent.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Natural white appearance
  • Soft grained/smooth finish
  • Acid & lignin free, OBA-free
  • Instant Dry
  • 100% Cotton Rag Matte Finish
  • Compatible with dye and pigment inks
  • Free Custom ICC Printer Profile
  • An Archival Paper

Marrutt Fine Art Reproduction 316gsm

This is another heavy fine art paper, 100% cotton and the colour is natural white. The paper feels like a stiff card with a fine raised texture, it’s acid-free and archival grade.

Test

I selected an image of a church window with subtle tonal transitions and fine details in the shadows.

Impressions and Rating

The image was rendered extremely well, fine details in the shadows were strong. Tonal transitions were smooth with deep blacks and strong highlights. The paper showed mild signs of cockling after printing, this was resolved with no distortion.

This ‘Fine Art Reproduction‘ is an excellent fine art paper, it was touch dry immediately after printing. The textured finish really adds depth to the image.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Warm/natural white appearance
  • Soft grained/textured finish
  • Acid & lignin free with no OBA content
  • Certified archival grade
  • Mould-made base
  • Compatible with dye and pigment inks
  • Free Custom ICC Printer Profile
  • An Archival Paper

Hahnemühle Papers

Hahemühle is a German company with a history dating back to 1584, specialising in high-quality papers for photographers and artists.

Papers Reviewed:

Torchon

William Turner

Photo Rag Metallic

Hahnemühle Torchon 285gsm

This is a very unique paper it’s 100% A-Cellulose, bright white, acid and lignin-free. It has a very distinctive open structure with a wonderful tactile feel. The paper is Calcium Carbonate buffered.Test

I chose a monochrome photograph of ‘Kylemore Abbey’.

Impressions and Rating

The image has been rendered beautifully, this papers bright white colour allows the highlights to pop from the page in excellent contrast to the deep blacks. Tonal transitions are smooth with no signs of ink bleed. The paper was dry to touch straight from the printer with very little signs of cockling. The paper was stable throughout the printing process with no signs of distortion.

The ‘Torchon 285gsm‘ fine art paper is delightful, the unique open structure certainly adds depth to the image. One of my favourite papers from Hahnemühle.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Weight gsm 285
  • Thickness mm 0,50
  • Whiteness  96,0%
  • Media Colour bright white
  • Opacity % 99,0
  • D65 2° 460 nm
  • ph-Value total 8,2
  • Acid-free – Yes
  • Calcium Carbonate buffered – Yes
  • Water Resistance – Very high
  • Drying Behaviour – Instant
  • Surface Finish – Matte
  • OBA Content – Moderate

Hahnemühle William Turner 310gsm

This heavy fine art paper feels like a painters canvas, rough to the touch, its 100% cotton and is ‘mould made’. The colour is white and described and the texture is matt, the surface is Calcium Carbonate buffered.

Test

I choose a brightly coloured image of Whitby Abbey in the UK at sundown. The image is reminiscent of a watercolour painting on canvas

Impressions and Rating

This image looks stunning on this paper, colours are vibrant and punchy. Tonal transitions are smooth from the deep blacks to bright highlights.

The ‘William Turner 310gsm‘ is a sublime fine art paper that adds depth and character to the image, like a great artist has taken a fine brush and created a beautiful painting. The name ‘William Turner’ is synonymous for his stunning paintings, the paper is truly worthy of his name.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Weight – 310 gsm
  • Thickness – 0,62 mm
  • Whiteness – 88.5%
  • Media Colour – White
  • Opacity – 99%
  • ph-Value total – 8.3
  • Acid-free – Yes
  • Calcium Carbonate buffered – Yes
  • Water Resistance – Very high
  • Drying Behaviour – Instant
  • Surface Finish – Matt
  • OBA – No

Hahnemühle Photo Rag Metallic 340gsm

This is a very distinctive heavy fine art paper, 100% cotton base with a high gloss metallic finish, natural white, acid and lignin-free to ensure the paper is archival.

Test

This papers unique metallic shine looks beautiful the way it reflects and diffuses the light. I choose the church window image that has deep shadows and bright highlights. The paper is Calcium Carbonate buffered.

Impressions and Rating

The image was rendered beautifully with deep shadows and shimmering metallic highlights, it’s a very distinctive and wonderful look. The fine details in the shadows are fully retained, highlights are silvery gorgeousness. Tonal transitions are simply sublime. The soft texture of the paper really suits the old church adding further quality to the image.

The Photo Rag Metallic 340gsm is a beautiful paper, the metallic coating adds a warm tone to the image with perceivable depth, the organ pipes appear to be rendered in 3D. I would describe the sheen as high pearlescent, light defuses when striking the paper and the soft texture adds a premium feel.

Manufacturers Technical Information

  • Weight – 340 gsm
  • Thickness – 0,47 mm
  • Whiteness – 88,0%
  • Media Colour – Natural white
  • Opacity – 99,0%
  • D65 2° 460 nm
  • ph-Value total – 8,0
  • Acid-free – Yes
  • Calcium Carbonate buffered – Yes
  • Water Resistance – Moderate
  • Drying Behaviour – Instant
  • Surface Finish – High Gloss Metallic
  • OBA Content – No

Conclusions

This blog review hopefully provides a brief glimpse of the quality of fine art papers available to photographers. The choice of papers is vast and we are privileged to have access to a wide variety of specialised photographic papers.

My approach was impartial, looking at the paper qualities rather than who manufactured or supplied it.  although it’s natural to lean towards particular papers that suit my style and taste.

All the fine art papers supplied are extremely high quality each one with its own set of unique characteristics.

This is not a technical review, my comments are based on my thoughts as a professional photographer.

All the papers claim a wide colour gamut (WCG). The papers reviewed are archival grade ensuring the longevity of the printed image.

A huge thank you to all the paper suppliers, it’s been a joy to review all the above fine art papers.

I recommend reaching out to the various paper manufacturers listed, you could be missing out on a paper that suits your style of photography.

In future reviews, I will concentrate on a single fine art paper and test with varying images to provide more in-depth feedback.

Hope you enjoyed this review, please leave comments below.

Stephen ?

Western Digital SSD Drives NVMe and SATA SSD for Decembers Review Blog

Manufacturers Links

Hahnemühle

Marrutt

Permajet

Canson

Paper Terminology Links 

gsm

Opacity

Dmax

OBA

Wide Colour Gamut

ICC

Calcium Carbonate buffered

Acid-Free

Lignin Free

Barium Sulphate Coating

Mould Made

pH Neutral

Whiteness

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