Canon smooth fine art paper review
Canon fine art paper review
Premium Fine Art Smooth 310gsm
Canon in the US recently announced three new fine art papers, and Keith was able to get a sample of the Fine Art Smooth, from Canon UK to test with the Canon PRO-2000 printer he recently reviewed.
The paper has a smooth matte finish, natural colour and is free of optical brighteners (OBAs).
About the paper
Premium Fine Art Smooth
- ISO brightness 85
- Weight 310gsm
- Thickness 0.42mm
- 100% cotton
- OBA free
The paper is available in sheet and roll formats. I’m testing a 24″ roll of the paper (on a 3″ core)
The Fine art smooth paper is described by Canon as:
“Premium Fine Art Smooth paper is designed to produce a deep, rich black by allowing the pigment to reside close to the surface of the paper.
This line of paper separates the ink-receiving layers into a colour-reproduction layer and an absorbing layer allowing more pigment to remain on the surface of the paper for a dramatically improved colour reproduction.
Premium Fine Art Smooth uses 100% cotton for the base and it does not contain lignin, a causative substance that can result in yellow discoloration. This is an acid-free paper suitable for archival prints and image longevity. Additionally, when using the newly optimised LUCIA PRO ink, users will realize deeper black density, detail gradation of shadow and increased image longevity.
The new Premium Fine Art Smooth adopts “natural” for tone of colour, and “smooth” for texture of paper surface.
The combination of the thickness of the paper and the soft, tender texture of cotton achieves a luxurious feeling final product.
This 310 gsm paper is available in cut sheet sizes as well as 17, 24, 36 and 44-inch roll sizes.”
The paper has a nice smooth matte finish, almost like a matte photo paper.
For a 310 gsm paper it feels slightly thinner than I might first expect, this is usually the sign of a fairly dense surface layer, where the ink receptor coating resides.
The paper is included in Canon’s latest media information for printers, so for the PRO-2000 this meant firing up the Media Configuration Tool software to download the latest paper info. from Canon.
After this is downloaded, I can install the paper settings directly to the printer, so as to make it available via the printer front panel.
If you use the Canon accounting software and add new papers (custom or even Canon ones) you will also need to update the printer information there, lest all your new papers appear as ‘Unknown Paper’.
Don’t forget to update the media information for the printer driver on your computer too
It will sync media settings with the printer (which you’ve just updated)
This makes the paper type available in your printing dialogue (I’m printing a profiling target from within the Mac ColorSync Utility here)
The PRO-2000 ICC profile (and the B&W QTR one) are available on request for non commercial use.
I’ve printed a number of colour and black and white prints with the paper. For B&W I’ve used the printer’s B&W print mode (of which more in a bit)
These two prints are photographed under tungsten halogen lighting (~2750K)
The print colours do indeed seem quite intense for a matte paper, but as ever, the choice of which images will work best need quite some care in choosing.
It’s a fairly stiff paper and not inclined to creasing – a problem I find with larger prints on lighter photo papers. The non print surface is slightly less smooth.
Colours are good for a matte paper – as I mentioned, paper choice for an image is a very personal decision.
For myself, once I’ve established that a paper physically performs well and I’ve made profiles and a few test prints, the actual numbers (Dmax, gamut volume and the like) are pretty much irrelevant to any decision to use it for a particular print. I’ve long believed that the best prints come from an appreciation and understanding of the image and the paper working together.
One thing I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere for is comparative charts between papers (See “Why I never recommend the best products” for more about my approach to reviews and testing).
The paper is on a 24″ roll, and one of the advantage of roll paper is for making big prints – here’s one I’m printing at 120 cm long. I’ve a custom paper size set up at 130cm
The softness of the paper works well with this shot, since the intense blacks I’ve seen with it printed on a glossy paper are just a bit too deep for my liking – as ever, it depends on the image…
I printed my standard B&W test image, which includes a 51 step greyscale target. I can measure this in a number of ways, but since it was set up I used my i1iO spectrophotometer, which with i1Profiler lets me measure the target several times and average results.
There is much more about this process in the article: Using the i1iO to linearise B&W prints
Once I’ve got the data I use the generate ICC profile tool in QTR to create a correction profile for the B&W print mode and this convenient chart that shows the B&W output (see my printer reviews for far more about B&W print)
It’s a relatively straight line, but it flattens out too soon at the shadow end.
This means that shadows will be crunched up if you don’t do something about it.
It’s not much, but we are talking about getting the best results from a premium product.
I’ve written much more about optimal B&W printing elsewhere, so I’ll just show the improvement from using my correction profile to part of my B&W test image.
There are lots of elements of the test image that can give you quick checks of B&W print performance, and one for (deep) shadow compression is how easy it is to read my name on part of the image.
These two photos of actual test prints show what I mean (if they don’t take it as a hint that your monitor/calibration may be doing the same compression).
Here’s a photo of the print, printed with the B&W mode ‘as-is’.
Note how easy it is to read my surname: Cooper and also how much detail is visible in the shadows behind the log at the left.
Now look at the same image printed after applying the correction curve (in Photoshop).
These are crops of hand-held photos, so I’m just looking at shadow visibility, although the correction curve does darken mid-tones a bit too. Not all images printed with the B&W mode will show the benefits of the curve, and of course, if you’re printing colour with an ICC profile, then this is all taken care of by the profile (it’s part of what profiles do).
The paper has a very distinct smooth matte finish, and in the course of making test prints and profiling prints I put several prints together in a pile.
Several days later, with a particular angle of light I noticed slight surface marks on dark areas of print, where print edges had scuffed the surface. It’s worth noting that these were post production marking, not from the print process.
Not a problem, since I handle ‘sellable’ prints quite carefully and interleave them with tissue paper, but something to be wary of as a result of the very fine surface texture. This is not a paper for high volume use by inept staff…
The prints looked great, and several were quickly whisked away by visitors offered a free sample print (suitably wrapped).
If you like prints on a smooth flat matte surface, then this paper is certainly worth adding to your evaluation list.
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