Hi guys (why is it almost always guys?)
I enter this fray with a little hesitation because though I have been active in photography since my teens and a professional since 1960, the digital revolution, which is really what it has been, has changed all the rules, if not the expectations and my own views on the matter are somewhat mixed.
Take the matter of black/white printing. I feel little false modesty in saying that I was a damn good printer up until the start of the 80s at which time I left the UK and the course of my career changed from being a fair mix of colour and b/w to exclusively colour transparency, and above all, Kodachrome 64. Velvia didn't play much of a role because I was involved mainly in model shots and not so much landscape. However, even by that time, RC paper had more than started to eat away at fibre material. I never liked RC paper because from the start, the very first tests I made, it felt and looked a very inferior product and nothing I tried later changed my mind about it. Ciba was great if you had two close tones...
As all my printing was professional in a non-social photography context - I did stuff for advertising and PR and so forth, not weddings etc. - my experience was almost totally with gloss paper. My out and out favourite was Kodak's WSG, either single or double weight, single for press and double for other, more permanent uses. And I always glazed it. That the repro industry required unglazed would appear to have been a myth of its time. My few attempts with matte papers were horrid; I hated them with a vengeance (the papers more than the attempts).
And then, surprise, surprise, I started to have ideas about how my transparencies might look as print. So, in came a scanner and also a little printer, and turning SOME of those old trannies into b/w revealed a whole new life for them. I too was unhappy about using matte paper at that time, basing the fear on my wet experiences of matte. I shouldn't have worried. Epson Matte Paper Heavyweight is all I have ever used for the past few years and in my opinion, what it comes down to is this: if you do have good traditional darkroom experience you will find an affinity with Photoshop in that you understand brightness and contrast. Sticking to a single basic type of paper and a simple printer teaches you, if expensively, how to get the best out of what's available - 'twas ever so. And, importantly, you must not forget that for exhibition or sale, that print is going to live behind glass, at which point the matte print effect vanishes and the picture is transformed into an excellent high gloss one. I have both on my wall at home: an original gloss on fibre and a matte via digital. You would have to see them with the glass off to tell which was which.
Oddly, it seems that my humble printer using Durabrite ink produces finer black and whites than do the 2100 and 2400 models...
I think that to chase a new paper every time one is announced is a hell of a waste of effort, unless, of course, your business is making reviews.
As with film, learn to use few very well and you have little need for anything else.
Ciao - Rob C