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Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White paper review

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Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White paper review

Hahnemuhle’s 310gsm smooth fine art paper


We’ve had Hahnemuhle’s Photo Rag paper (the 308gsm version) available as an option for some of Keith’s fine art prints right from when we first got our old Epson 9600 in 2004.

During Keith’s recent review of the Canon iPF6450 printer, we were able to get some of the 310gsm ‘Bright White’ version of the paper. Keith has been testing it on the printer, including making our own custom ICC profiles, something we do for all our print work.

test prints

About the paper

The paper is 100% cotton based, giving excellent archival properties.

This particular version includes a modest amount of optical brighteners, which in a few applications might reduce its ‘archival level’.

It’s a stiff feeling paper at half a millimetre thick, and even small unmounted prints have an immediate quality feel to them.

More paper info at Hahnemuhle

This from Hahnemuhle:

  • Photo Rag Bright White – a 100% cotton paper with a smooth surface texture – guarantees archival standards. With its premium matt inkjet coating Photo Rag Bright White meets the highest industry standards regarding density, colour gamut, colour graduation and image sharpness while preserving the special touch and feel of genuine art paper.
  • Compatible with pigmented and dye inkjet systems.
Value Test standard / Notes
Test Conditions 23°C / 50% R.H.
Weight 310 gsm EN ISO 536
Thickness 0.5 mm
Whiteness 99.5%
Media Colour bright white
Opacity 99%
pH-Value total 8.2
Acid free yes
Calcium Carbonate buffered yes
Water Resistance Very high
Drying Behaviour Instant
Surface Finish Matte
OBA Content Moderate

Available media sizes

available media sizes for paper

ICC profiles and media settings

There are paper settings and profile information available for many printers at the Hahnemuhle web site. The paper was profiled for the iPF6450 after creating a custom media setting, based on a Canon fine art heavy weight paper.

creating a custom media setting for the paper

The profile was built using a ~2900 patch target, measured on an X-rite i1iSis spectrophotometer and processed using X-rite i1Profiler software.

As we often do for fine art media, two profiles were created, one with a fairly neutral perceptual rendering intent and one with more contrast and saturation. Different images can look better under soft proofing with different profile building parameters, and since it’s no trouble to build multiple profiles, I often make two or three.

For B&W printing using the iPF6450 monochrome print mode, I created a custom linearising profile, since the default tone curve does -slightly- crunch up deep shadow detail for well lit prints (see the iPF6450 review for much more about this)

The image below is from testing the neutrality of Monochrome printing with the iPF6450 (against the grey card)

The optical brighteners in the paper give a very slight purplish tinge to the ink/paper combination, which varies with lighting. Most people won’t see this, but I like to ‘tune it out’ for exhibition prints, where I know the kind of lighting present.

testing monochrome print colour tints

This is also covered further in the printer review.

I also used this paper with True Black and White software driving the iPF6450, linnearising one of the included Hahnemuhle profiles.

Print Quality

The print surface is smooth, but with a very slight texture if you run your fingertips over it. The paper is quite stiff and very resistant to creasing.

The three black and white prints on top of my piano give a good feel for how the prints look – lit by overcast daylight.

Top to bottom: Burnt tree and snow, Mesa Verde — Doorway, Orford Castle, Suffolk — Chapterhouse steps, Wells cathedral.

Here are two colour prints that benefit from the whiter finish of the paper, which gives a bit more punch to colour detail (indoor halogen lighting).

two colour test prints on hanemuhle phto rag 310 bright white

Left – Swithland Woods, Leicestershire. Right – Aspens near Aspen in Colorado.

For both of these images, my first thought might have been to use a satin finish ‘baryta’ type paper, but both work very well on the Bright White paper.

Both benefited from soft proofing within Photoshop before printing. This allowed me to see that selective saturation (vibrance) adjustments applied to each before printing would produce prints that better matched what I was looking for.

I always remember that the best looking image on the screen is not always what produces the best looking print, which after all is the endpoint of the process. These two image were particularly good examples of this (see also my recent notes on how sharpening fits into all aspects of my photo to print workflow)

Note – If you mix paper types, be very careful if the prints are meant to be near to each other. A ‘bright’ print will make a natural paper look more yellow and less contrasty by comparison.

The two images below show detail from the prints.

aspens in the fall - detail

The prints are being viewed here under ~3000K halogen lighting

early autumn leaves

Obviously, photos of prints don’t really do them justice, but hopefully you get the idea.

Summary

A paper that feels good right from when you pick up a print (I know this doesn’t really matter, but it’s all part of what people perceive about prints, if not seen mounted).

The smooth surface handles fine detail, whilst the whiter finish, compared to OBA free rag papers, handles contrasty images more effectively.

If the presence of brighteners is not an issue (and for most people it really shouldn’t be) then it’s good to have a choice of similar rag papers that suit different image styles.

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