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Innova Soft Textured Natural White paper review

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Paper review:
Innova Soft Textured Natural White

Getting the best from this paper (IFA-12) from Innova



After completing a review of the Epson 3800 using Epson papers, I decided to have a look at how easy it was to get good fine art printing results with a different paper.

The paper reviewed here is Innova Soft Textured Natural White (code IFA-12).

small flowers

Innova supply icc profiles for the 3800, but that’s only part of the story…

The paper is Innova Soft Textured Natural White.

Our samples were from Fine Art Foto in the UK

About the paper

The paper I’ve looked at is Innova Soft Textured Natural White 315gm in A3 sheets.

 

It’s a heavy, lightly patterned, ECF bleached chemically treated woodpulp paper that has a nice stiff feel and (of importance when feeding in the 3800) no appreciable curl. It is optical brightener (OBA) free, so will have a slightly warm/yellowish look compared to any ordinary copier paper you may have nearby…

This from Innova

  • “Soft Textured Natural White 315gsm Innova soft-textured, has a natural white finish with a slightly structured, soft-textured surface equivalent to a traditional etching fine art paper making it ideal for digital fine art and photo reproductions.
  • The surface has a special matte coating, designed for high quality fine art and photographic reproduction with inkjet (giclée) technology.”

It’s available in a variety of sizes:

IFA-12 available sizes

I decided to test it on the Epson 3800 for colour and Black and White performance

Using icc profiles

When printing with Epson papers on the 3800, I found that the supplied icc profiles were very good and indeed, without quite a bit of work, my own test profiles built using Profilemaker 5 and measured with an Eye One iSis were not really much better.

However when you want to use third party papers, whether for reasons reasons of paper choice, or just plain cost, you will need specific icc profiles for getting the best results

Innova offer profiles for many of their papers and have a download page, which also has some guidelines on how actually to use profiles with your print set-up

I downloaded the profile for the 3800, and the document which tells you what print settings to use with the papers. You need to know the driver paper settings, since this is the main control over ink limits and linearization that you have with normal drivers.

Setting your ink limit too high will block up dark colours and may even show signs of the ink running or bleeding into lighter areas.

Print Quality

I printed some test images (colour and B/W) using the suggested setting of Velvet Fine Art. The dark colours in the PDI test image were running together and several areas of black showed signs of ink bleeding.

Looks like whoever made the profile just assumed that the paper looked most like VFA and profiled accordingly?… ;-)

In this picture, which has some really deep colours in the background, the dark areas took on a mottled look – not strikingly bad, until I looked at a print on Epson VFA

Very small flowers in my conservatory (1Ds + TS-E90mm + extension tubes)

Unfortunately, I’ve come across this problem before with paper manufacturers profiles.

Just making profiles without proper media settings checks is rarely good enough

Custom profiling services that offer to make you profiles without telling you how to check media settings are also guilty of this.

It’s my opinion that if someone offers to make you a profile, without checking the best media settings (or at least saying that they know what it should be from their own studies) you might wish to enquire elsewhere.

After that, it’ll probably come as no surprise to know I’ve written a short article on the importance of media settings. I’ll not repeat it all here, but suffice to say that printing out a few test patches showed that Ultrasmooth Fine Art Paper (USFA) produced the best results for this particular printer.

Buying Innova paper in the US

Innova papers are available via Amazon, Adorama and B&H – anything you buy via these links helps run our site, and is really appreciated.

…all Innova papers at B&H
…all Innova papers at Adorama]

With older printers I might have just assumed that my printer was a bit different from the original that was used to make Innova’s profile. Well that’s not really a good excuse any more since printers like the 3800 are now very much alike, and can even be set to ‘factory condition’ if need be.

Anyway I printed an A3 1728 patch target (based on Bill Atkinson’s profiling work) and left it overnight to dry (not entirely necessary, but no harm in waiting) I measured the target several times with my Eye One iSis (no UV cut) and after averaging the results created a profile with PM5.

The results were much better… smoother more open shadows and perhaps a tad more brightness in the light colours.

For black and white I tried the Epson ABW printing mode, and with the paper type set to USFA there were only minor kinks in the evenness of the greyscale. This was improved by creating a QTR luminance only profile (see the 3800 review for more discussions about this) Not the most perfect rendition of my B/W test print, but enough that most casual observers wouldn’t notice (it was designed as a very harsh test)

Summary

An excellent paper for the right types of image. I find that paper choices are a distinctly personal choice, and for me depend on the type of image and how I wish it to be seen.

I’m not sure which images I’ll use it for, but this paper has definitely made it into my options list…

The paper has a very solid feel and had absolutely no feed problems with the Epson 3800.

If you use the supplied profiles then do check to see when they were last updated, and don’t discard a potential paper choice just because the supplied profile is not up to scratch!

Note – Innova have contacted us and are aware of the profiling issues I’ve raised, and are looking into the matter.

Our sample paper was kindly supplied by Fine Art Foto in the UK

More print related information

For information about other printers, paper reviews and profiling (colour management) see the Printing section of the main Articles and Reviews page, or use the search box at the top of any page. There are also specific index pages for any articles connected with the following topics:

 


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