This old color, film photo o’ mine, was the subject test print for my new Epson Stylus Photo R3000 printer, I got at the end of last year, and didn’t get to taking out of it’s box until this past weekend. I wanted a test color photo with just that – colors, and this one just came to mind, as I really am partial to black and white photography, and color images of mine, that have bold colors, that scream their colors, like the red, blue, magenta, and yellow in this one, there aren’t too many of them… so, I thought this one would be a good candidate. Though, just now, going back and doing a quick look, after the fact, this clown one would probably have been an equally good choice, as it also had all those cartoon’ish colors… oh, well.
Of course, the printer is only half the equation, the paper the image is being printed on, the other half, and that was part of the testing too. Along with the printer, I also picked up sample packs from a few paper manufacturers – Canson, Epson, Hahnemühle, and Museo. I also wanted to include Ilford in on the sampling, but they didn’t have a sample pack to order… at least that could be found on B&H where I got everything.
For paper choices, wanted brands that produced acid free, as well as had no optical brighteners, so as to insure long term archival endurability, and that were as premium quality of paper as can be – for inkjet printer paper. :-) Sorry, a little residual old school, traditional thoughts showing themselves there. Just as the transition from film to digital shooting was a long process for me to overcome… this whole print making, not via true, photographic wet processing, that I have held onto for longer than I did the whole film/digital thing, is pretty fresh still, and a part of me actually looks down on it, even while I am fully converting to it.
Anyway, wanting the final printer photo prints, to be indistinguishable from quality traditional, wet process photo prints, and is a non-negotiable area where I will skimp on.. I want high quality photographic prints, that are as if able to be displayed in a gallery, on like quality materials, and have a steadfast archival life.
So, first thing, downloading all the ICC Profiles for each brand and type of paper that I had, for use in the R3000… which numbered like twenty to thirty altogether.
After that, was bringing the test image above into Lightroom, and doing/learning the whole soft proofing thing that I have never done before. Definitely wasn’t a steep learning curve though, thank goodness, and as straightforward and simple as could be. And frankly, the whole thing just being downright cool and awesome!
In Lightroom, just checking the Soft Proof box, and pulling up the specific paper’s ICC Profile I am going to be testing, and there you go! Of course, I didn’t just do that and print, but used the whole soft proofing thing of, side-by-side, the original image, with the relative representation shown of how the printed version will look, and making little adjustments on the latter to make it look as close to the former original as possible.
Used in tangent with all of this, the NEC 27″ wide-gamut monitor that I also invested in along with the printer, so as make sure I have as close as possible represented colors of what will be printed. Am I? Is what I see, what I get? It really wasn’t far off at all. The monitor is brighter than resulting printed prints, but not at all at any drastic scale. Colors? Actually pretty spot on. Really am very pleased with it all, and feel confident moving forward in this whole printing process and setup, with only very minimal tweaks to get it all even closer than it already is, and having what I see on my monitor, being what I also see when it’s spit out of the printer.
I ended up not using each and every type of paper that was included in the sample packs. Found, I didn’t like, or want to use, the paper that didn’t have a finish of some kind… meaning some kind of sheen/luster/gloss. Also, I did not really want to use any canvas types, primarily for the previous reason. And, did not like a too textured/dimpled surface. So, that cut down on the printing options a bit… especially with one whole pack of Hahnemühle Fine Art Matte paper, where I used absolutely not one of it’s contents… which was a waste of money, because it’s not going to be used by me at all… and since I am getting to this all entirely too long after acquiring it all, too late to return it. So, if anybody out there wants a complete pack of unused Hahnemühle Matte Fine Art Paper sample pack, let me know!
I went down the line of paper brands alphabetically, starting with Canson. The first two papers being ruined because of doing it all for the first time. First, I didn’t realize that for my R3000 printer to work wirelessly, it still had to be hardlined into my wireless router, and not just have my computer communicate to it it over-the-air. What was confusing me, was my other, cheap, Epson all-in-one printer, with scanner, I can scan from it over-the-air to the computer via all wifi. But, discovered it is only one way and the same, can’t make it print from my computer to it via wifi.
Anyway, by checking the wifi signal and connection on the R3000, it showed it was receiving a signal and connected, and misread a screen that said to continue to print, thinking I had corrected it, and so had it print, but was to print some textual status sheet – right on on the photo paper! A few expletives were uttered.
Now, unfortunately, Canson’s sample pack only comes with one sheet of each type of paper, whilst the other brands had conveniently multiple samples of each type. So, that meant, I either had to just scrap and go without seeing how Canson’s Baryta Photographique paper was, or, just print the photo over the text… which I ended up doing. Hey – have not, waste not!
Only, I continued to muck it up even more, as I didn’t realize, the one thing that Lightroom does not do, is whatever ICC paper profile you have selected in the Develop Module, does not automatically carryover and have be selected in the Print Module. I didn’t realize this until after two prints, of Canson’s prints being printed using, I think a Hahnemühle ICC profile for some Bamboo paper. They weren’t exactly compatible. And when the first print came out on the Baryta Photographique, the first thing I noticed, was the clown’s blue hair, was really deep, dark, vivid blue, with a slight purplish cast. But really, even though I printed the Baryta Photographique test print over a bunch of printer status text, and using the wrong ICC Profile to color manage it by, it frankly wasn’t that bad looking of a print, outside of the clown’s hair, and was in contention as one of the finalists to the very end.
The photo to the right above, isn’t that print, but is a scan of the Canson paper print I did select (though again, I REALLY wish I had another Baryta Photographique sheet to do it over, as again, even though screwed up, still was a very strong contender) as the finalist from Canson – their PhotoGloss Premium RC paper.
Next, I moved on to Epson’s own papers.
This one to the left, is a scan of the print I selected as my favorite of their’s, the Ultra Premium Photo Luster. Which I do like, the image is nice and crisp, with a nice pop to it. But, I do not like that it is the only paper of Epson’s where they decided to brand it with their name all over the back of the paper.
Now, I know that Kodak and Fuji had their name all up and down the back of their real photo prints… but, goes back to what I said above, of my still lingering condescending feelings of this whole printer photographic prints, and not exactly wanting to have my prints easily be noted as such, by just flipping the print over, that they were just printed on a printer! Just second-rate in my book, and the biggest deciding factor in why I won’t go with this paper of Epson’s. The other reason being, it is a little too flimsy, and wish it was just a hair more rigid stock of paper.
Onto Hahnemühle’s papers. Which again, I started by looking at the Fine Art Matte sample pack of theirs, but from just thumbing through them, and just visually gauging if any of them were what I would like and want to use, and that coming up a – no… closed and sealed it back up, and immediately hopped on B&H’s website to see if I had gone past their return time window… yep… damnit!
Hahnemühle’s papers though, had the widest amount of contenders in the final selection process, along with Canson. The leading winner, was of this paper, whose print is scanned to the right here, their Fine Art Baryta. As I tweeted the day of my doing these tests, it seemed if it was a paper I liked, it also had Baryta in it’s name!
I liked the surface, with the subtle texture, as well as the soft gloss finish, the thickness and weight of it… and the resulting print itself, nice and crisp, not as much pop of the Epson choice, but wasn’t at all flat neither, very good color rendering.
Lastly, was Museo. Which was quick and easy, in that of their only four paper type offerings, only one was what I was looking for and wanting to use – their Silver Rag, it’s print scan, to the left. But, was good enough to make it amongst the final selection contender pile.
And it’s from that contender pile of three, that I am to make my final choice of which paper will be the paper I choose and use for my photo prints:
- Hahnemühle’s Fine Art Baryta
- Museo’s Silver Rag
- Canson’s PhotoGloss Premium RC … though also, their Baryta Photographique
Canson, will get the short end of the stick though, in that their sample pack was the only one that has just one sample of each type of paper, and can do no other tests on the paper I like of theirs. And simply because of that, they will be booted out of the final selection… which I really don’t want to do, because their Baryta I do prefer over Hahnemühle’s, and Museo’s Silver Rag, in that Canson’s Baryta also has a nice finish on the back of the paper too…
Okay, I just went and scanned in the print of Canson’s Baryta Photographique, below, with text all up and down it (some that I just went back in and blurred, since it showed my router’s MAC address, etc.), and out of whack colors from my using the wrong color management profile, for an entirely different brand and type of paper…this was the very first paper I tested, and frankly, even though I screwed it up more ways than one, and have no other sheets of it to test with it… it is going to replace it’s other Canson paper brother, PhotoGloss Premium RC, as Canson’s top choice with me, and strong finalist contender altogether… Damn, I wish I had more sheets of it!
Because really right now, I still have to do test prints on a black and white image… and would really like to have the same paper be what I could go to and use for either a black and white photo, or a color photo. And again, with Canson shooting them own selves in their foot in this scenario, by just having one sheet only of each paper in their sample pack, is going to give them the short end of the stick…
Right now, the overall choice contenders are, in order -
- Hahnemühle’s Fine Art Baryta
- Canson’s Baryta Photographique
- Museo’s Silver Rag
And Canson’s Baryta may even best Hahnemühle’s Baryta, if I had another sample of Canson’s in order to do a correct print of it this time, and to also use in my B&W print test samples… damnit Canson.
Anyway, am going to now choose a black and white photo candidate to use for the test prints, and run the two papers I do have to use a second time, Hahnemühle’s and Museo’s, and see how they fare in B&W land… which I hear is equally, if not more impressive than their color prints… so, will go see now.
Stay tuned…. and am almost certain part two, will be FAR shorter in length than this one will be, so don’t worry! :-)