With the price increases on Ilford's Gold Fibre Silk bryta paper, I was encouraged to receive this announcement from Red River Paper for their new San Gabriel SemiGloss Fiber. I've ordered some to test. If it is as equivalent to IGFS as some of the beta testers report, it will be a good alternative. AND it is available in 17x25" sheets!
Info here: http://www.redrivercatalog.com/browse/san-gabriel-semigloss-fiber-baryta-photo-inkjet-fine-art-paper.html
I received my 5 sheet sample pack of the San Gabriel paper, downloaded and installed the ICC profile, and made some test prints on my Epson R3000 printer.
I compared the San Gabriel to Museo Silver Rag & Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique.
The San Gabriel (as mentioned) has a somewhat similar surface texture to the Museo Silver Rag but the pattern appears slightly more random. To my eye the Museo SR has an almost linen look and pattern. The Canson IBP, much like Ilford GFS, has a very slightly pebbled surface, though the Canson less so than Ilford GFS.
Of the three papers, Canson IBP is the most neutral (relatively speaking of course), the RR San Gabriel and Museo SR are very similar w/ the RR San Gabriel being ever so slightly warmer to my eye in full diffuse daylight coming through my dining room windows (my standard "real life" test area).
Overall look and feel of printed images:
I printed two images on letter size of all three papers. All were allowed to dry down over night before evaluation. One image was a standard calibration image that I've used for several years that I down loaded from the net. Color patches, grayscales, children with different complexions, tech gear, metal objects, a scenic from the desert, some strawberries (I'm sure you've all seen and possibly used it). The second image was from my DP2M camera with a broad dynamic range scene, some rich shadow areas with detail, lots of mid-tone with contrast, some highlights right below clipping with good detail - an alley scene shot in San Luis Obispo this past week w/ "used brick" wall, blacktop, gas meters, colorful banners stuck to the wall, etc. A good range of tone and color.
The RR San Gabriel has less rich blacks and less sense of depth than either of the other papers as well as slightly less color saturation. Its surface also seems to interfere w/ the observation of the image when even the slightest bit off axis to the light - more so than either of the other papers (there is always a bit of this with any paper, I only mention it "in comparison" to the other two). This is not to say RR San Gabriel is bad, it just isn't as good, in my opinion, and the differences are subtle. A casual observer in a gallery might see the differences as trivial. I don't. And there is an unquantifiable (even anecdotally) difference, in that the inks seem to be more sitting on the surface of the RR San Gabriel than either of the other two. That's a kind of chicken-and-egg expression of the lower level of richness and depth observed. There is nothing here to tempt me except for the availability of the 17x25" sheets. Oh, and one laughable difference is that the RR San Gabriel doesn't have that "baryta" smell that the Canson and Ilford papers do. Silly, but as an old darkroom duffer, I kind of like that.
I didn't bother with a price comparison. I'm a relatively small volume printer, so having the look I want is more important than the price of the materials "for me."
Canson IBP continues to be my paper of choice (w/ Ilford GFS a virtual tie except for the Canson having a very slightly smoother surface), Museo Silver Rag for those times when more surface texture might be desired (not by me, however). The RR San Gabriel falls into that category of a very nice paper in its own right, but not as delicious as the other two barytas available from Canson and Ilford. YMMV
Ilford, Canson... wake up and smell the coffee! Why not offer 17x25" sheets? Your papers lie so beautifully flat when not coming off of a roll. I'd gladly pay a little extra, and I suspect others would as well.
RandSEE UPDATE BELOW