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Author Topic: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?  (Read 4954 times)

Yvan Bedard

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Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« on: March 07, 2017, 12:51:40 PM »

Hi,

I've been printing my own photos and selling to art galleries for several years. I mostly use Breathing Colors OBA-free archival products with my Epson 7900.

BC have been offering an aluminum photo panel for several months now. I could use it on my Epson 7900 printer to offer the popular metal print. See here

However, I was waiting for some reviews or tests before committing into this product since it would require buying a laminator and sheer cutter for non-standard height/width ratio. After several months, I find no real test of review on the web.

Has any of you tried it ?

Thanks



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Mark D Segal

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2017, 01:59:22 PM »

This website will be publishing my review of this product, along with some other printing media in the near future. Stay tuned.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 04:56:56 PM »

This website will be publishing my review of this product, along with some other printing media in the near future. Stay tuned.

Fantastic, this is exactly what I'm looking for. Any timeframe? I'm preparing two important solo exhibitions in addition to the increasing demand for aluminum prints at the art gallery.

Yvan
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 05:44:31 PM »

I was advised to expect publication within the current two week time frame.
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Wayne Fox

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 09:47:43 PM »

We tested Allure extensively when it was first introduced. The ability to use high quality pigment inks using profiles and under my own control is appealing.  I'm also skeptical of Chromaluxe dye sub processes because their fade testing shows the magenta layer fading faster than the other two layers, indicating the panel may turn green.  Chromaluxe fading tests better than unprotected chromogenic processes, but thats not particularly impressive because unprotected chemical prints are problematic.  They don't compare them to pigment inkjets, probably because they really aren't in the same league.

There are a few challenges, one being the need to use a shear to cut the print after printing. Good news is they've addressed that issue, and as long as you can stay in standard sizes, the new panels are contained within carrier which eliminates the shearing after printing (so much better for DIY). I haven't tried them yet, but plan on bring some of them in soon.

Larger panels are challenging to load, as the weight tends to make them skew.  I successfully printed 20x30 panels with my p9000 but have difficulty printing them on my older 11880 (which may have lost some of its' gripping power over the years).

To us the real challenge was the laminating step. Even with a good laminator (Seal 54) it is difficult to get the image clean enough to not have flaws, which with the glossy laminate are obvious and distracting. Also the laminate is easier to scratch than the scratch resistant moniker implies.  I had a difficult time getting a perfectly laminated print.

Regarding final print quality, Mark will offer a much more thorough analysis, but I will say the ability to use pigment inks on a very solid inkjet receptor product offers control and quality which to my eye is superior to chromaluxe dye sub panels.  There were some profiling issues, but working directly with BC we came up with a solid profile for the p9000 so I was getting exactly what I was expecting out of the product.  I didn't have side by sides to compare the claim that they are "sharper" because they are printed at 1440 dpi vs 720 for chromaluxe followed by perhaps a slight "diffusion" of the dots as they are sublimated onto the aluminum sheet.  But I did feel they were quite sharp, with nice transitions and gradations similar to a high quality inket print.

We are going to try them again, as we sell a lot of aluminum panels which are made by a 3rd party and frequently have small color and density variances that make them somewhat of a compromise for customers.   I would really like to have the Allure panels available as an option for those wanting better print quality on the panels.  We now have a "clean" room of sorts we designed for our face mounted acrylics, so perhaps this will make it easier to get a good laminate on the Allure product.

I look forward to Mark's review as well.

Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2017, 07:29:00 AM »

I was advised to expect publication within the current two week time frame.

Cannot be better !

Many thanks for your work !

Yvan
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2017, 07:35:20 AM »

Very helpful commentary Wayne, as I did not cover Chromoluxe, the largest panel I worked with for my review is 12*15 inch, and I don't have the laminating equipment for the gloss coat; so I cover the specs and results obtained on the matte panels up to 12*15 inches which feed through an Epson P-800. Once mine is published, readers will have two complementary sets of information - yours and mine to work with.
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Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2017, 07:44:16 AM »

Thank you Wayne for your detailed comments. My Epson 7900 is only 4 years-old and I imagine it would feed properly the 20x30 panel (this is the size I'm interested in).

I have a free room in my house, next to my lab, because my youngest daughter graduated last year and now has her own appartment. This is where I want to instal the laminator.

Questions:
- what is the success rate with metal prints at the beginning, and then after having experience (i.e. if you make 10 prints, how many come out as expected)?
- same question for laminating?
- what are the main issues about having a clean laminate? Dust? Sand? Air bubble?
- Do your clients prefer mat or glossy laminate? (I'm a landscape photographer)

Thanks,

Yvan
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ChrisMax

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2017, 08:30:27 AM »

I tried the panels and found them to be less than spectacular printing on them with an Epson Pro 4800.  There is also the issue of trimming the panel after printing on it because the printer leaves a border around the panel which is larger on the last edge out of the printer.  Trimming this edge is a problem because the machine to do it properly is very heavy and expensive.  There is also the need to laminate the panel after printing requiring another machine called a cold press.  The manual cold presses are very cheap but have a manual crank and the powered versions are very expensive.  One thing to keep in mind is with a manual cold press you'd have to use one hand to crank and the other to make sure the laminate is going on smoothly with no air bubbles.  This process can be unwieldy with prints larger than 8 x 10.  I'd say if you want metal prints just have one of the commercial labs do it unless of course you love being frustrated.
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Ken Doo

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2017, 10:00:37 AM »

I'd like to know if there are any OBAs present on this substrate, particularly with the coating used on the metal plates.  I'll place bets that longevity may be better than traditional dye sub metal prints, but still might not be as "archival" as other "fine art" substrates. I look forward to your review, Mark.

When I tried the Allure panels on my P9000, I found details to be noticeably better than with traditional dye sub metal prints. (I compared using the same print files from a Phase MFDB). A metal shear is extremely large, onerously heavy, and poses its own short learning curve. I have a fairly large printing area so this was not an issue. If limited to standard sizes as Wayne mentions would be easier to avoid dedicating a large space to an expensive industrial metal shear.  Lamination can be an issue and I found it a challenge to achieve regular and consistent results. Orange peel is an issue generally caused by the wrong pressure settings, and slight changes whether from settings, environment, user error, etc. are extremely noticeable on the glossy laminate. The finished product remains delicate to handling. The finished print has excellent detail, color, and gloss, but still not quite the pop or dimension of a traditional dye sub metal print.  I decided not to offer the BC Allure option for my clients.

Ken
« Last Edit: March 09, 2017, 09:59:14 AM by Ken Doo »
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Dan Berg

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2017, 10:06:03 AM »

We have been teaching alternative printing medias since 2010.
Here is my take on the subject. Chromaluxe Metals are ready for prime time and in our opinion are the absolute best quality bar none if you are reselling.
Nothing even close.
Everything else, BC Allure, Booksmart Metals and Inkaid coated metals are at best a craft fair sell.
If you insist on giving this a try. Do NOT buy a shear or laminator it is not necessary.
Finishing
Instead of laminating buy several cans of Premier Print Shield. Several light coats and you are good to go.
We have 2 laminators here and using the hi-gloss polyester over laminate have gotten a success rate of about 2 out of 10.
Do not offer it for sale at all. Failure rate does not make it financially viable.
Trimming
No shear required.
3 options here. Crop your image so that you have an even border on all 4 sides.
Pick an edge border from Photo Frame and use that as your border instead of a square edge, looks really nice.
See samples below.
Lastly make up several print boards and tape your metal into the cutout with tape from the back side.
Set up your printer to over print a bleed of about a 1/4" on all 4 sides.
In larger printers like my 9900 the larger metals always wanted to skew a little or slide because of the extra weight.
With your printer now gripping the paper board instead of the metal you have a much firmer grip.
The easiest way to get a borderless print from any non borderless size metal.
The last 2 framed metal prints are metals coated with a Krylon spackle paint topcoat with 3 over coats of Inkaid.
Printed with Epson 3880 and Photoframe border. Top coated with 2 coats of print shield.
2 sky prints are printed on Booksmart Metal aluminum with a 1" border coated with hi-gloss Print Shield.
In closing I would invest very little in the Allure product other then several samples to fool with, no equipment.
See if they sell then decide.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2017, 10:15:01 AM by Dan Berg »
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Wayne Fox

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2017, 12:43:18 PM »

I'd like to know if there are any OBAs present on this substrate, particularly with the coating used on the metal plates.  I'll place bets that longevity may be better than traditional dye sub metal prints, but still might not be as "archival" as other "fine art" substrates. I look forward to your review, Mark.
According to Breathing Color the inkjet receptor coat is the same as they use on their Lyve canvas and Elegant Papers which I believe they claim are OBA free.  Ernst might have those two products in his database.  Longevity will certainly be better than dye sub aluminum.

Now that it no longer requires a shear to print standard sizes, the remaining hurdle of adequate laminating remains a big challenge.  Like Ken mentioned our success rate was extremely poor, and the quartz laminate was much more delicate than we expected.

The challenge with dye sub aluminum to me besides possible longevity issues is consistency in output related to the same image printed on a good printer and paper combination, which is what customers are expecting. I just see too many issues with slight color variances, highlights and shadows blocking up etc.  Most of them look OK, but just donít look as good as a good inkjet print on good paper.  I made the decision not to use aluminum for my own work because I just donít feel it offers the quality I want to deliver to my buyers.

Dan Berg

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2017, 12:57:11 PM »

Wayne,
CMYK or 8 color dye sub? I have the 8 color and the results are pretty darn good.
Then again I am not reproducing my personal photography. Mostly travel, family and pet photos sold to a much less critical group.
Still if you compare dye sub metal next to the inkaid and booksmart metal prints the difference is pretty substantial.
As always YOMV
Here is the real tell tale, I have sold (dye sub) 265 to (Inkaid coated)2

Wayne Fox

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2017, 10:44:24 PM »

we've sold hundreds of chromaluxe prints as well, and as you mentioned most for people to put on their own walls etc.  Currently they are being printed with the Epson F series dedicated dye sub printer (CMYK), good enough for most customers.  And as you mentioned far superior to the inkaid and booksmart products.  We've also had some printed by services using Sawgrass inks (6 and 8 color), in some cases we see less problems with light tones, highlight and shadow blocking, etc.

And to clarify, results are usually pretty sweet.

But there is that select group of discriminating shooter who actually sells some of their work for a decent price that expect the aluminum to look as good as a print on Epson or Canson Baryta.  I can get closer to that with the the Allure product, but the kill rate (mainly from the laminate) and work required makes it a no go.

I've settled on face mounted inkjet on TruLife acrylic or high quality paper (currently using Epson Legacy Baryta) for the work I sell.  I just don't think the aluminum is as sharp as I would like and the subtle color issues I don't want to try and resolve.  I've also quit selling on canvas ... the texture just affects the micro detail more than I would like.

Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2017, 01:01:36 PM »

This process can be unwieldy with prints larger than 8 x 10.  I'd say if you want metal prints just have one of the commercial labs do it unless of course you love being frustrated.

I tried MPix metal print and it came out well, but I don't sell prints I've not done myself. I only sell photos I have produced myself 100% and clients appreciate it very much. It is a value-added characteristics of my offer. In fact, printing my own photos with the best products around for archival quality is one of the strongest selling arguments to convince people it is worth $400 to $1100 per photo depending upon size.

Thanks for your feedback, laminating is the kind of trouble I wasn't sure about and one of the reason I have not ordered Allure photo panels yet. The other reason is image quality, I need feedbacks from several users.

Yvan
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Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2017, 01:05:16 PM »

I'd like to know if there are any OBAs present on this substrate, particularly with the coating used on the metal plates. 

I decided not to offer the BC Allure option for my clients.

Ken

I assume they would have written it if it was OBA-free. So, I believe it is not.

Thanks a lot for your final decision of not offerint it to your clients, it tells a lot !

Yvan
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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2017, 12:55:31 AM »

we've sold hundreds of chromaluxe prints as well, and as you mentioned most for people to put on their own walls etc.  Currently they are being printed with the Epson F series dedicated dye sub printer (CMYK), good enough for most customers.  And as you mentioned far superior to the inkaid and booksmart products.  We've also had some printed by services using Sawgrass inks (6 and 8 color), in some cases we see less problems with light tones, highlight and shadow blocking, etc.

And to clarify, results are usually pretty sweet.

But there is that select group of discriminating shooter who actually sells some of their work for a decent price that expect the aluminum to look as good as a print on Epson or Canson Baryta.  I can get closer to that with the the Allure product, but the kill rate (mainly from the laminate) and work required makes it a no go.

I've settled on face mounted inkjet on TruLife acrylic or high quality paper (currently using Epson Legacy Baryta) for the work I sell.  I just don't think the aluminum is as sharp as I would like and the subtle color issues I don't want to try and resolve.  I've also quit selling on canvas ... the texture just affects the micro detail more than I would like.

Considering how tricky most people seem to think face mounting a print to acrylic is I'm stunned that your results laminating are so much worse.  I was thinking about trying to use Glossy and Matte laminating films on paper inkjet prints with a low end manual roller but, unless there is something specific about laminating Allure, it sounds like that would just be a waste of time and money.
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Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2017, 10:01:50 AM »

We have been teaching alternative printing medias since 2010.
Here is my take on the subject. Chromaluxe Metals are ready for prime time and in our opinion are the absolute best quality bar none if you are reselling.
Nothing even close.

Thank you for your detailed and well-supported opinion! It is very informative and convincing!

Yvan
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Yvan Bedard

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2017, 10:06:19 AM »

I made the decision not to use aluminum for my own work because I just donít feel it offers the quality I want to deliver to my buyers.

It is very likely what I'm going to decide as well. My clients are used to top archival quality with BC Lyve canvas and Pura Smooth and Pura Velvet fine art papers + Timeless varnish. Highest quality print is a great selling argument for an art collector, even for home deco.

Yvan
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Dan Berg

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Re: Has anyone tried Breathing Color Allure photo panels ?
« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2017, 10:07:10 AM »


We do know how to improve the results when laminating acrylic and here is what it takes.
Mount your roll of laminate on the machine and make all your sample runs and adjustments.
Laminating from a properly webbed machine will improve the results drastically.
For one offs and workshop demonstrations we cut an oversize piece of laminate and send it through the machine like that.
You are pulling the liner back and holding the proper laminate tension over the roll. Can be done just a little more work with less then stellar results.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 11:09:05 AM by Dan Berg »
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