A question - I'm going to outline my current thoughts to the following three papers and based on them, I'm asking "the group" if there is something else I might be interested in - the theory being that if I tell my biases that perhaps I'll get a better targeted recommendation
First off - all of these Baryta (and EEF) papers represent a huge leap for me - I am simply not a fan of ANY of the matte ink "art papers" - I tried the highly touted photo rag from hahnemuhle and ended up throwing the box (of 50) into the trash - I couldn't stand it. Same with the Somerset velvet and so on.
But these Baryta/EEF glossy black ink papers are entirely different - so far I like the ones I'm about to list and if pressed could live with any of them, but I do have some preferences, so given my biases, what do you guys suggest?
(Background wise, I used to print B&W (but I was an Ilford Galerie guy more than an Agfa guy) and some RA4 and Ciba color)
Disclaimer: I don't have exotic profiling gear for printing, so I'm dependent on manufacturers profiles. I realize this puts me (and possibly some of my choices) at a disadvantage, so I may have to rephrase my question as "given the manufacturers profiles, what other paper should I look into besides these?"
Epson Diminishing Bank Account Exhibition Fiber:
- So far my favorite paper. My beryllium master card application has been approved, and I should soon reach credit limit on it buying this paper in 17x22 for my 3800. Why I like: of the papers I've tried, it has by far the best dimensionality - there is a depth in the image that surpasses the other papers, and that counts a lot for me. Blacks are excellent and there is a very nice sense of seperation in all of the tonal values. For landscape shots, there's nothing I don't like about it - I don't mind the admittedly bright white and there's just a "something" that this paper has that I've never seen from an inkjet paper. For portrait/fashion/art, the only "knock" is the super bright white - I find with some images I need to drop an adjustment layer onto things to knock down the max white a little bit, and I also cheat and use (gasp) other-than-pixel genius recommended paper types for portrait work even with their profiles as I just like the overall print better. (for landscape and color portraiture I follow their recommendations to the letter). This is a great paper in both color and B&W. The only other downside is that the surface seems VERY easy to damage when the print is still "wet" or fresh - I've burned more than a few sheets when a speck of whatever falls onto the surface before it's dry. And of course, this stuff is insanely expensive.
Ilford Gold Silk Fibre:
- This paper is just the slightest touch bland, or perhaps, subtractive, for my tastes compared to the other two, but I appreciate its more subtle approach for some shots involving people/fashion/art. It's a nice surface (although I prefer EEF's surface more) and it's a nice alternative to EEF. The blacks aren't really where I would like them to be and if anything, I wish the prints on this paper just had more oomph. I'll probably keep it around because it's the yin to Epsons yang, or vice versa.
Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta:
- This is a really great paper whose prints I love in almost every respect except the surface texture. The blacks are solid, the prints have more dimensionality than the Ilford, and the prints have the "ooomph" that I crave. Only thing is I'm just not wild about the surface - it's a bit too much paper fiber / long-grain rice (??!) for me, although I could live with it for sure.
So, while I do honestly like each paper and realize that this is all subjective and the differences mentioned above are slight, not massive, my own rankings would be:
a) Epson EEF
c) Ilford Gold fibre silk.
So what should I try next?
Is the Harman something I should be trying to find? (I can't get it locally....) Any other suggestions?