Inkjet Papers That Will Give Your Photos Pizzazz
JUNE 26, 2012
By Theano Nikitas
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, especially when it comes to inkjet papers. You have your favorites and maybe think, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But sometimes a change may be just what you need. With that in mind, we picked our favorite inkjet papers that have helped us create some bold, new looks with our printed photos.
Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique
Canson, a company founded in 1557 (yes, it’s that old), has a long and notable papermaking history. Artists have been using papers from its mills for centuries and, in fact, the first hot air balloon—which dates back to 1782—was made from Canson paper. Plus Nash Editions used Canson’s Arches watercolor paper when it pioneered Iris printing. One of Canson’s standout papers is Baryta Photographique, which won the 2010 Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) award for best inkjet paper. Designed to deliver the look and feel of a silver halide print, this paper is coated with a layer of barium sulphate. Baryta Photographique acid-free paper is pure white, which, along with being able to deliver rich blacks for black-and-white prints, offers great dynamic range for color photos, too. Available in cut sheets starting at 8.5 x 11 inches and rolls up to 44 inches x 50 feet, this 310 gsm paper is designed for use with pigment inks. If you’re curious about some of Canson’s other papers, pick up a Discovery Pack with 12 assorted papers—including the Baryta—for under $20.
Prices: $12 to $232
Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth High Gloss
We got our first sneak peek at the new and improved Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth High Gloss paper at the PhotoPlus Expo in 2011. Though previously available, the new version has been modified and presented as an “alternative to metallic media.” It’s also an inkjet alternative to the recently discontinued Ilford Ilfochrome. Image definition and colors really pop on this film-based medium and, while personal preference dictates the types of photos that match the paper’s high gloss, we think it’s perfect for fashion and beauty shots that deserve a sharp, crisp look. Although the paper is compatible with both pigment and dye inks, Ilford suggests optimum results are achieved with the latter. Galerie Prestige Smooth High Gloss is available in both cut sheet and 24 inch x 50-foot roll formats. When you visit the Ilford site, also check out the company’s two new 2012 TIPA-award winning papers: Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl (310 gsm) and Smooth Gloss (310 gsm), giving photographers a couple of great heavier-weight options.
Prices: $35 to $98 (Smooth High Gloss); $20 to $302 (Smooth Pearl); $20 to $302 (Smooth Gloss)
Innova Art FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss
Innova Art’s latest entry into the inkjet paper market, introduced at the 2012 WPPI convention, is a really nice heavyweight (335 gsm) paper, FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss. Don’t let the term “gloss” fool you, though. This isn’t a super high-gloss paper like the Ilford paper included in this roundup. Rather, the gloss, which comes from its microporous coating, adds just the right amount of luster and sheen to the surface of this lovely, fiber-based (100 percent Cotton Fourdrinier) paper. It’s similar in look and (definitely) feel to an F-type paper. According to Innova Art, the paper utilizes a unique crystal layer technology between the paper’s fiber base and coating. Technology aside, we think the natural white, archival FibaPrint, which has a D-MAX rating up to 2.7, works particularly well for portraits, landscapes and fine art, either black-and-white or color. It’s acid-free, lignin-free and contains no optical brighteners, so FibaPrint Warm Cotton Gloss is a good option for gallery prints and we especially love the weight of this paper. Compatible with pigment and dye-based inks, the FibaPrint comes in cut sheet sizes from 8.5 x 11 to 17 x 22 inches, as well as 17, 24, 35, 44 and 60-inch rolls.
Prices: $46 to $403
IT Supplies Pro Series Metallic
Metallic papers have been gaining in popularity and add some excitement to the usual array of inkjet output options. IT Supplies, which carries a wide array of papers, has a quartet of Pro Series metallics that are eye-catching. Of the four, the Chrome Metallic Luster and Chrome Metallic Pearlescent are most likely to find their way into your inkjet paper stash. Both seem to work best for black-and-white images but produced some gorgeous color prints as well. We think the Chrome Luster is better suited to landscapes (including infrared, if you want to get a little funky), while the Chrome Pearlescent lends itself to portraits and wedding photography, especially some of those detail shots brides seem to love. Product shots will look equally as appealing on both surfaces as well. The other two metallics, Pure Silver semi-gloss and Pure Gold semi-gloss, go beyond the edges of what we think of as edgy. Both are true to their names, with a silver or gold base topped by a clear inkjet-receptive coating. The silver is really silver but we made it work with some portraits and product shots in black-and-white. The gold was a little more difficult to find images for since it’s so, well, gold; we think illustrators and designers might be more at home with this paper than photographers. But we’re sure that there are some very creative shooters out there who will find a way to make the gold paper work perfectly with a select set of images. All four metallic papers come in cut sheet and rolls, from 8.5 x 11 to 44 x 100 inches. You might want to try out a sample pack, with three letter-size sheets of each to see which metallics fit best with your work.
Prices: $8 to $326; $17.99 (sample pack)
Some Specialty Papers
We love all Moab papers but for special book projects, we’re addicted to the Entrada Rag Bright 190 and the Lasal Photo Matte 235 (available in 8 x 9 or 12 x 13-inch pages). Both papers, but particularly the Entrada, are great for color, black-and-white and infrared images. The papers are double-sided and come pre-punched for use with the Chinle Digital Book package (black leather cover, posts, slip case), which is super easy to put together. Plus, Moab provides Photoshop layout templates that help speed up the process. We prefer to make our own artist and photo books from scratch, so we simply buy the refill pages, print out the images, raid our stash of bookboard, book cloth and decorative endpapers, and create our own covers. Either way, Entrada and Lasal are, we think, ideal for photo and artist books.
Prices: $33 to $57 (Entrada Rag Bright 190); $26 to $42 (Lasal Photo Matte 235); $24 to $60 (Chinle Digital Book)
For more delicate work, we love Japanese and Asian papers. They give a special feel, both visual and tactile, to photographs. Among our favorites is the Moenkopi Washi product line from Moab, which is produced at the Awagami Factory in Tokushima, Japan. There are three surface options, although all of the papers are made from natural fibers and coated for inkjet ink (pigment recommended). Kozo (110 gsm) is machine made from mulberry fibers and has a smooth, hot press surface with a warm, creamy white base. Unryu (55 gsm), also machine made from mulberry fibers, is more decorative with long strands of fiber pressed into the mold when the paper is being formed.
But the crème de la crème is the Bizan (300 gsm). This natural white paper is handmade with mulberry and hemp fibers and dried in the sun. It comes with four deckled edges and is extraordinarily beautiful. While you might balk at the price, the craftsmanship is evident the second you pick up a piece of this gorgeous paper. (We’ve made paper by hand; it’s a time-consuming process and our paper never even came close to looking like any of Moab’s Moenkopi papers, so they’re all well worth the money.) We love Japanese papers for portraits, flowers, photo collages and illustrations that call for an ethereal look. The Kozo and Unryu come in A4 and A3+ cut sheets as well as 17, 24 and 44-inch rolls. The Bizan is available in single A3 sheets only.
Prices: $28 to $421 (Kozo); $21 to $284 (Unryu); $34 (Bizan)
Other Japanese papers that offer alternatives for soft images include several from Digital Art Supplies. Shikoku (80 gsm) comes in both natural and white, can be printed on both sides (unusual for Japanese inkjet papers), and is compatible with inkjet and laserjet printers. One side is smooth, while the other is slightly textured, so this paper is really versatile and may be worth checking out for promotional work or invitations. Shikoku is available in 8.5 x 11-inch multiple sheet packages; single 25 x 38-inch sheets are also available.
Another unique paper is Peacock, a medium-weight handmade Japanese paper. It has a special, almost iridescent finish and comes in buff, green and rose. We tend to favor the buff and the rose, and use the latter for macro flower images. It’s a lovely paper and, like the Shikoku (or any of the Japanese papers) may be worth looking at for promotional work or invitations, in addition to more standard photographic prints. Peacock is available in 8.5 x 11-inch cut sheets only.
Perhaps one of our favorites is Kinwashi, a warm inkjet paper that is created from Manila hemp and kozo. It’s translucent and is threaded with golden hemp fibers, so you need to choose your images carefully. But for the right fine-art portrait or image that calls for an almost antique look, the Kinwashi might be the perfect fit. Available in 8.5 x 11-inch cut sheet packages, single 25 x 38-inch sheets and 38 inch x 10-yard rolls.
$12 to $114 (Shikoku); $20 to $116 (Peacock); $12 to $145 (Kinwashi); $19 to $39 (various sample packs)