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Author Topic: Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200  (Read 2843 times)

jasdown

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« on: November 07, 2009, 06:52:47 PM »

Greetings to all,

I am a "newbie" in the sense that I just last week purchased a Z3200, and came across this forum by way of a lot of Googling. My background is in signage, however, so I was hoping for some direction in purchasing photo papers for my Z3200. I justified purchasing the Z3200 thanks to a generous "cash for clunkers-esque" rebate, and the need to do some small interior banner work (just graphics, no photos). Another incentive was watching Mr. Reichmann's Youtube video in which he so coolly and effortlessly installed a Designjet Z! Anyway, the Z3200 is so much more than a graphics printer, that I am now left wanting to exploit its amazing photographic reproduction abilities by way of making prints.  I was wondering if I might prevail upon the collective wisdom of forum members for guidance in selecting photo papers for it?  I am not looking for a point-of-purchase retail look (again, more akin to my background) but, rather, something that more resembles a conventional portrait that would be framed. Thanks for any ideas!
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Geoff Wittig

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2009, 07:49:32 PM »

Quote from: jasdown
Greetings to all,

I am a "newbie" in the sense that I just last week purchased a Z3200, and came across this forum by way of a lot of Googling. My background is in signage, however, so I was hoping for some direction in purchasing photo papers for my Z3200. I justified purchasing the Z3200 thanks to a generous "cash for clunkers-esque" rebate, and the need to do some small interior banner work (just graphics, no photos). Another incentive was watching Mr. Reichmann's Youtube video in which he so coolly and effortlessly installed a Designjet Z! Anyway, the Z3200 is so much more than a graphics printer, that I am now left wanting to exploit its amazing photographic reproduction abilities by way of making prints.  I was wondering if I might prevail upon the collective wisdom of forum members for guidance in selecting photo papers for it?  I am not looking for a point-of-purchase retail look (again, more akin to my background) but, rather, something that more resembles a conventional portrait that would be framed. Thanks for any ideas!

Congratulations!
You can probably find out most of what you need by searching for posts on the Z3100, which has been out longer and is broadly similar other than the newer inkset. Trying out many different papers is one of the (potentially expensive) joys of using such a printer. Most of us have come to use a handful of favorite papers for our work, depending on ĉsthetic preferences. The built-in spectro makes it a piece of cake to profile and use 3rd party papers.

Just my preferences; other folks will have their own favorites.

1) For best color gamut, detail and general image quality, I tend to turn to luster/satin surfaces. I'm quite fond of HP's professional satin photo paper. Yes it's plastic feeling, but the surface is very unobtrusive and attractive, D-max very good, color gamut excellent and price fairly reasonable. Epson's premium luster photo paper (or whatever they call it now) is very affordable, especially in 100' rolls, and gives very similar gamut & D-max, if you can tolerate the stippled surface texture. I turn to it when I'm printing work for others who aren't quite as picky as I am.

2) If you want a paper with a more luxurious hand feel, the newer fiber-based baryta or satin papers are really nice. I love Hahnemüle photo rag baryta for black & white and for color images that don't demand high saturation, especially in the reds, though your Z3200 is probably better here than my Z3100. Great D-max, and a fairly subtle surface stipple slightly less obvious than that of Epson luster. No optical brightening agents, yet a surprisingly good paper white. Hahnemüle photo rag pearl has a slightly more 'organic' surface texture, not as good a D-max, but better gamut especially for saturated reds, with a somewhat warmer paper white. Many people really like Harman's FB AL; great D-max and unrivaled detail, but I find it way too smooth & glossy, almost plastic in its surface texture.

3) Straight matte cotton rag papers are the Z3100's achilles heel due to mediocre red saturation, but your Z3200 is presumably a lot better in that regard. I'm very fond of Hahnemüle photo rag satin; it has a rather narrow gamut and D-max typical of a cotton rag paper, but a really intriguing differential surface sheen after inking that looks almost metallic. It's perfect for subtle or high key images, and actually works well for many black & white images that don't require maximal contrast/dynamic range.

4) HP's professional matte canvas is my current favorite canvas, though I haven't tried that many. Good enough D-max, very nice canvas texture and a decent gamut and "paper" white. HP's "collector's satin canvas" is best forgotten by comparison; very poor gamut, dull yellow "paper" white, rotten D-max.

Hope that gets you started.
Have fun!
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howseth

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2009, 07:59:07 PM »

"I'm very fond of Hahnemüle photo rag satin; it has a rather narrow gamut and D-max typical of a cotton rag paper, but a really intriguing differential surface sheen after inking that looks almost metallic. It's perfect for subtle or high key images, and actually works well for many black & white images that don't require maximal contrast/dynamic range."

Hahnemüle photo rag satin: I will concur with that; I love this paper. Plenty enough color gamut for my needs. (I Don't use gloss enhancer - thick fine art setting works best on my HP Z-3100) Expensive though. Use soft proofing to adjust your files to help with any potential reduced contrast dullness (compared to more glossy surfaces).

Howard
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howseth

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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2009, 08:09:36 PM »

Hahnemüle photo rag satin: I will concur with that -----

P.S  I am having an exhibition - featuring large color prints on Hahnemüle photo rag satin - in a week in Los Angeles (forgive me for tooting my own horn  ) But, The prints will be framed and that special rag satin sheen will be less evident - when behind the Plexiglas  

Deborah Martin Gallery Here is a link http://deborahmartingallery.com/upcoming.html

Howard
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jasdown

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2009, 09:17:39 PM »

Thanks, Geof, for such a thoughtful and detailed reply. The low profit margin of signage (or, at least, my participation in it), makes the Epson Premium Luster sound as if it might be the best route for me to take. However, since I have a small credit forthcoming from HP, I would kind of like my first purchase to be one of their products. Do you know if there is an HP equivalent of the Epson Premium Luster, or would that just be the HP Pro Satin? Have you any experience with the HP Everyday Pigment Ink Satin?

And best wishes to you, howseth, on a successful exhibition!
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John Caldwell

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2009, 12:05:43 AM »

Quote from: jasdown
... Do you know if there is an HP equivalent of the Epson Premium Luster, or would that just be the HP Pro Satin? Have you any experience with the HP Everyday Pigment Ink Satin?

I'd say that of the HP branded materials, HP Professional Satin might be the closest to Prem Luster, but it really isn't very close in feel or surface texture. It's more like the Epson Prem Semigloss. On the z3200, the HP Pro Satin offers very nice looking prints that look good behind glass. I don't care for the paper anytime the end user might be handling a print though. It has the kind of plastiky character that causes some people to pursue matte materials when handling is important. The Pro Satin is my favorite HP branded material.

John Caldwell
« Last Edit: November 08, 2009, 12:07:30 AM by John Caldwell »
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jasdown

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2009, 08:24:19 AM »

Quote from: John Caldwell
On the z3200, the HP Pro Satin offers very nice looking prints that look good behind glass. I don't care for the paper anytime the end user might be handling a print though. It has the kind of plastiky character that causes some people to pursue matte materials when handling is important. The Pro Satin is my favorite HP branded material.

John Caldwell

John, thank you for your reply. Am I understanding you to say that, despite the off-putting plastic nature of the HP Pro Satin, it still rates as your favorite HP brand because there is simply no other HP material (in its price class, at least) that affords a better consumer feel coupled with superior imaging? I'm afraid that how customers would esteem the print upon handling (especially in terms of its perceived value), is necessarily important to me. Can I further confuse the issue by asking how, in your estimation, HP Premium Matte might fare by comparison (assuming you've had any prior experience with the product)?

Sorry to be so slow in grasping all this, but I am most appreciative of everyone's comments!
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John Caldwell

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2009, 02:40:57 PM »

Quote from: jasdown
John, thank you for your reply. Am I understanding you to say that, despite the off-putting plastic nature of the HP Pro Satin, it still rates as your favorite HP brand because there is simply no other HP material (in its price class, at least) that affords a better consumer feel coupled with superior imaging? I'm afraid that how customers would esteem the print upon handling (especially in terms of its perceived value), is necessarily important to me. Can I further confuse the issue by asking how, in your estimation, HP Premium Matte might fare by comparison (assuming you've had any prior experience with the product)?

Sorry to be so slow in grasping all this, but I am most appreciative of everyone's comments!

Yes, you have it right. The HP Pro Satin is the best of the HP-brand PK papers in my view. Of the HP media I have tried, this paper has given me the greatest ability to match print appearance to my intended appearance, and once framed, the prints look very fine. The HP Baryta papers have not been as appealing to me, and for this type of material I much prefer the HFA Fine Art Baryta 325 weight (which requires some special handling in my experience for proper roll feed), and for a smooth surface, the Harman FB Baryta. If I were selling PK prints that the client would hold in their hands, wrapped in a clear bag or not, I'd use the HFA 325 paper. The HP Pro Satin is very crease-prone in large sheets, so I think not only is the plastic nature aesthetically troublesome, I think the print is much more likely to be damaged until it's framed.

I have not tried the HP matte media, but I would not doubt that they are workable papers. The matte papers are great choices where the client will receive an unmounted print for handling. Matte papers I most enjoy are more assorted: Canson BFK Rives is beautiful, and the HFA William Turner, German Etching and Photo Rag all have their place and unique surface traits. I usually make an effort pair image characteristics with the paper, to take advantage of the strengths and weakness of the media.

HFA Photo Rag Satin has quite a following for those looking for a unique surface. While not a favorite of mine, I easily concede its persona.

Best of luck in formulating your preferences, jasdown.

John-
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Geoff Wittig

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2009, 08:53:55 PM »

Quote from: jasdown
John, thank you for your reply. Am I understanding you to say that, despite the off-putting plastic nature of the HP Pro Satin, it still rates as your favorite HP brand because there is simply no other HP material (in its price class, at least) that affords a better consumer feel coupled with superior imaging? I'm afraid that how customers would esteem the print upon handling (especially in terms of its perceived value), is necessarily important to me. Can I further confuse the issue by asking how, in your estimation, HP Premium Matte might fare by comparison (assuming you've had any prior experience with the product)?

Sorry to be so slow in grasping all this, but I am most appreciative of everyone's comments!

Just to chime in here-
HP's professional satin has that plastic hand feel, but the surface is really lovely. It's a completely unobtrusive subtle surface that really does look like satin. Epson luster has a more obvious surface stipple, but it's noticeably cheaper. HP does have a cheaper "everyday" satin that looks pretty similar at first glance, but the surface is much grittier to touch, and it feels flimsy. I was unimpressed by HP's matte papers, even their version of Hahnemüle's cotton rag paper, mostly because they couldn't render a remotely saturated red. Your Z3200 is likely a lot better in that regard.

My experience has been that the vast majority of folks are delighted by prints on Epson luster using the Z3100, especially if the prints are matted and framed or mounted on board, where hand-feel is irrelevant. Even if prints are just matted, it may not matter much. But if potential customers are going to handle loose prints in a portfolio box, it probably makes sense to go "all in" and use a really lux paper. That's one of the nice things about Hahnemüle's photo rag papers (baryta, pearl, satin); they all feel very luxurious in hand. Many folks also like Crane's silver rag, though I don't like its surface texture.
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jasdown

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2009, 07:42:45 PM »

Thanks, Geoff, for once more taking the time to provide such in-depth answers. Now that I believe I am on the right track, may I go one step further and ask the forum members for recommendations of suppliers of these papers?
Thank you.
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dkeyes

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Guidance for Paper Selection for Z3200
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2009, 12:07:06 PM »

Quote from: jasdown
Thanks, Geoff, for once more taking the time to provide such in-depth answers. Now that I believe I am on the right track, may I go one step further and ask the forum members for recommendations of suppliers of these papers?
Thank you.
I concur with HP Pro Satin, best paper on the z3100/3200. I don't worry about "hand feel" because all my images will be framed when exhibited. It's the kind of paper where you look at the image, not the paper because the surface is so smooth and unobtrusive. If you want a less expensive version try the HP Premium Instant Dry Satin. Slightly lighter weight and bluer white than Pro Satin. Like any photograph, you have to handle these prints with care, they will crease easily especially large size prints. I keep them rolled until I have them mounted.

I buy my paper and ink from [a href=\'index.php?act=findpost&pid=0\']Cost Central[/a], but recently had a bad batch of Pro satin from them and switched to [a href=\'index.php?act=findpost&pid=0\']Provantage[/a]
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