Papers for the Epson 2200 - Best image quality

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by hassy_user, Sep 17, 2004.

  1. hassy_user

    hassy_user Guest

    I am an experienced photographer, and know my way around a color
    darkroom pretty well, but have just started trying out a 2200. I have
    not shopped around for papers yet (I've just stuck with the nice Epson
    Matte), but am curious to know if it is worth it to buy the very
    expensive rag, etc papers, and if they give an edge in image quality,
    or just archival stability. I am more concerned with image quality,
    and am willing to pay extra for it. If it makes a difference, I am
    using scans from 6x6 done on a Nikon LS8000 at max resolution and bit
    depth, so I have enough source data to warrant trying to squeeze out
    more quality in the print. What papers are you all using on the high
    end, and why are they better? And can I get ICC profiles for them?
    Thanks in advance...

    hassy_user, Sep 17, 2004
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  2. hassy_user

    Bill Hilton Guest

    From: (hassy_user)
    I have a 2200 and a 4000 and have tried probably 15 papers in them. "Image
    quality" is excellent with any of the Epson papers and print life is also
    pretty high with all of them with the Ultrachrome Inks so it boils down to a
    question of taste, ie, what looks best to YOU.

    FWIW, for portraits we prefer the Premium Luster and use it on all the portrait
    prints we sell. You'll need the Photo Black ink for this one. The Semi-Gloss
    is also nice for a more "photo" look, with Photo Black ink. The Premium Glossy
    Photo Paper (PGPP) looks fine and glossy but if there are large areas of black
    and you tilt the paper between 20 and 45 degrees or so you'll probably notice
    what's called "bronzing", so we don't use this paper much.

    Most guys printing fine art prints with these inks (usually using the wider
    carriage 9600, 7600 and 4000) use the Matte Black ink instead of Photo Black,
    even with the narrower gamut. You don't get the typical "glossy photo look"
    with these papers though. There seems to be a wide range of preferences as to
    which paper works best. Here are my impressions -- best advice I can offer is
    to buy a pack of each and shoot it on a variety of images to see what looks
    best to YOU.

    Velvet - Fine Art (made by Somerset for Epson) has a raised, textured surface
    but prints with a surprisingly wide gamut. I love this one for more abstract
    images and it looks arty for exhibits. Expensive and easy to print on the
    wrong side since the coated side is only slightly whiter than the uncoated side
    :). If you want a high quality fine-art paper with a different "look" this one
    is worth a try.

    Ultrasmooth Fine Art ... relatively new one that's probably still not available
    in many sheet sizes (mostly in rolls), but several big name guys like John Paul
    Caponigro have switched to this as their favorite fine art paper. I've printed
    on it with the 4000 and it's like a somewhat better matte paper to me, I like
    the look but prefer VFA for art shots. If you like matte this might be the one
    for you. Here's a review you might find interesting ...

    Watercolor - Radiant White ... this one is only available in 13x19" sheets, has
    a textured finish (not as textured as the VFA though), is relatively cheap and
    prints beautifully. We use it mainly to proof for images destined for VFA
    since it's about 1/3 the cost but I would have no problems doing an exhibit on
    this paper.

    PremierArt Water Resistant Canvas ... this is only available on 13" wide rolls
    for the 2200 but it's pretty amazing stuff, canvas with a printer-receptive
    coating that looks excellent gamut-wise, given the rough surface. I think it
    works best with softer, more abstract shots but that's just my tastes. If you
    think some of your images might look good as a painting you might give this one
    a shot, people print on it and sometimes paint on parts of it, then stretch it
    over canvas stretchers to exhibit.

    Matte is matte, you've already used it so you know what to expect.

    There are many other papers available from 2nd party sources, especially coated
    and uncoated watercolor papers, but most have poor ICM profiles (if any) and
    I've yet to find any that offered any advantages over the Epson papers, except
    for lower price. If you want to try sample packs to get a feel for them try
    this link -- I've used all of these and found them wanting but YMMV.
    All this means is that you can print larger than the 2200 allows and still get
    good quality ... that's why I got the 4000, for 17x22" sheets (I have the
    LS8000 with both 645 and 6x7 cm film). We get pretty good 20x24" prints on a
    LightJet from the 6x7 scans, for example.
    As mentioned above, best advice I can offer is to buy a pack of each and shoot
    it on a variety of images to see what looks best to YOU. In talking to people
    who sell a LOT of fine art prints, Ultrasmooth and Velvet Fine Art are pretty
    popular, but maybe that's just the guys I'm talking to. Nothing wrong with
    matte either ... and for portraits I think Luster is the best paper since it
    matches the traditional wet darkroom "look" of what people expect a portrait to
    look like.
    Epson supplies profiles for most of their papers, except Ultrasmooth and Canvas
    use the Watercolor profile at the moment. There are good profiles and
    not-so-good profiles and a lot of the 2nd party profiles are bad ... the 2200
    has enough variance between units and enough shifting over time that any canned
    profile you receive is unlikely to be spot-on, another reason I switched to the

    Bill Hilton, Sep 17, 2004
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  3. hassy_user

    Eager Guest

    Bill -- what an excellent review of papers for the 2200 and 4000. I can
    confirm from experience that you're spot-on abou the standard Epson
    papers -- Luster, Semi-gloss, and gloss. I have no experience with the
    art papers, but with your advice, I'll try some.

    I also want to mention the Red River papers --

    I've ordered their version of luster paper, which they claim has a
    no-fade life with Ultrachrome inks as long as the Epson brand stuff,
    though the Red River paper is something like half the price or less --
    less than 50 cents a sheet in Super B size. So far I'm pleased with the

    Eager, Sep 18, 2004
  4. hassy_user

    hassy_user Guest

    Thanks Bill!

    I just picked up a pack of the Pictorico/Olympus Hi-Gloss film, I have one particular contrasty fashion image shot with
    a ringlight, and having very delicate shadow/highlight detail as well
    as subtle tonal qualities in the background. I was just not getting
    it with the Matte or Premium Luster papers from Epson after much
    trying. The Pictorico totally solved the problem, and I got a great
    print. And no bronzing.

    I read that the discontinued Epson Professional Glossy had great tonal
    qualities like the Hi-Gloss. Is there a replacement product? I will
    definitely try the Ultrasmooth and Velvet as well, but since my
    portfolio is all fashion, the Ilfochrome/Supergloss look of the
    Pictorico is a real benefit.

    I still have CM issues, so the canned profiles get me close enough. I
    make two or three test prints on 4x6 size of the same stock and can
    nail it pretty quick. In fact my colors are dead-on the first time,
    but the density is way off. I need to get my hands on another
    calibrator so I can profile everything again.
    hassy_user, Sep 20, 2004
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