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innova test printsInnova
Fibaprint Super-Glazed
and Semi-Glazed

Two new papers from Innova

After completeing a recent review of the Epson SP4880 printer, Keith has tried two new 'glazed' papers from Innova (IFA58 and IFA59).

This short review describes these papers for normal colour printing and refinements needed to get optimum use of the Epson ABW black and white printing mode.

About the paper

Both papers are 285gm/m2 with the semi-glazed at 306 microns thick and the glazed at 315 microns.

They were flat, out of the box, and showed no signs of surface flaking or scratches.

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]

innova papers

The picture below gives a good idea of the stiffness of the sheets.

Testing uses lots of paper...

Print testing

With lots of different papers coming to the market now, I'll quote the specs from Innova.

FibaPrint Semi - Glazed – 285g/m2 (IFA58)

"FibaPrint Semi-glazed has been modelled on the traditional fibre-based material used in conventional photography, to give it the look and feel of a traditional air-dried fibre based paper. Developed with leading photographers, it’s semi - glazed, high white and ultra smooth surface give it a truly unique quality. The special Micro porous gloss coating has been designed specifically for photographic reproduction and high quality fine art print applications. The acid inhibiting crystal layer technology makes it the perfect digital baryta FibaPrint alternative. FibaPrint Semi-Glazed has an extremely large colour gamut and D-max. "

The FibaPrint Super Glazed version (285g/m2 - IFA59) is very similar.

As you can see from the specs below, the main difference is in the final finish.

IFA58 High white digital baryta paper
IFA59 High white digital baryta paper
It's obvious that both these papers have more than an element of their marketing directed at people who used to do B/W printing in the darkroom, and the semi-glazed did remind me of some paper prints I'd done in the darkroom at school, back in the late 70's ;-) ...I do so much prefer digital :-)

The papers are available in a wide range of sizes, in sheet and roll format.

Innova paper sizes

I used them with the suggested Photo black (Pk) ink in the 4880.

Using icc profiles

Whilst Innova do have a range of profiles for their papers, they were not available for these papers and the 4880, so after some quick tests to confirm that the Premium Luster(260) setting was a good one for printing, I created some profiles for testing.

The two shots below (of parts of my 1728 patch test prints for profiling) show the different finishes of the papers. Do note that I've adjusted these images quite a bit to show surface finish, so they are not terribly good indicators of paper and print colours.

Due to the slightly thicker paper, the platten width on the printer was set to 'W' and the suction level to high to avoid head strikes at the start of prints.

Semi-glazed

reflective semi-glazed finish

Super-Glazed

reflective glazed finish

For black and white I tried printing using the Epson ABW printing mode, which I know works very well for Epson papers. I did use my custom profiles as well, but the ABW mode can often give better results and exhibit less colour shifts with different lighting. This is one reason I like to know the kind of lighting that my big prints will be viewed under.

I use my own B/W test image for this (article and download). It shows up a whole range of potential issues, and is my own personal standard for testing papers for B/W.

A paper has to look good with the test image before I'll consider using it for my work. Remember though that paper selection is a very personal matter, so you should always see how your images look on a sample of the paper once you know that you are getting accurate prints on it.

The usual issues with 3rd party papers and the Epson ABW print mode is that you tend to get slight non-linearity in the greyscale response. this can be corrected with a QTR icc profile. I'll not go over the mechanisms for creating one here, since I've several articles describing the process with different measuring instruments.

Choosing the Luster(260) setting and 'neutral' for the print, the shadows were opened up a bit too much.

It's difficult to show here, but the two photos of prints, before and after applying a QTR icc profile show, the difference. (The slight colour differences are from the lighting and not visible in the prints)

Epson ABW default setting

ABW on its own

After printing (same Epson driver settings) using a QTR icc profile

abw fixed with QTR profile

In the first print, the bull's eye patch is too concentrated toward the middle and there is detail -clearly- visible behind the log in the top RH picture. There should be detail visible here, but it should take a bit of effort to see it clearly.

When testing the papers, I printed out some test strips at different Epson driver settings and measured them. If you look at the measurements you can see which set requires the least correction in the form of a QTR icc profile. For best results, you generally want to minimise the work done by the correcting profile.

Assorted test prints

  • Yes, I am this picky when testing paper :-) - it allows me to concentrate on getting the image looking right when editing and then knowing that printing won't have any nasty surprises lurking in the shadows... My own approach to photography and printing is that if I know the technical side really well, then most of the time when taking photos or printing, I can effectively forget about all the techy details and concentrate on getting the image/print I want.

Print Quality

out of gamut colours - glass on barAs you can see from the pictures in this article, I always do loads of prints of known test images as well as images of my own.

I do particularly recommend the Datacolor one for colour prints - I have a copy (with explanations about its use) available for download.

You can get a feel for the surface finishes in the extreme reflection photos above, but both papers printed very impressive looking colour and monochrome, with deep rich colours and blacks.

The papers do contain optical brightening agents, so may be a concern for some more archival uses, although the papers are quoted as "Acid & lignin free".

The image to the right was taken in a local bar with my 1Ds Mk3 and converted to the ProPhoto colour space.

It has some very strong colours and is quite a harsh test for any printer/paper/ink combination (remember you are seeing a restricted gamut sRGB web version).

No problem at all for the 4880 and its inks on these papers.

My personal favourite of the two papers is probably the semi-glazed, but they are both ones I'm happy to include in my collection.

The papers are not as rugged as many lighter papers, and you should take care in handling the prints. This is from Innova:

  • As with all Fine Art papers our Digital Fine Art papers are fragile and need to be handled with extreme care. Try not to touch the surface of the paper, hold by the edges and wear cotton gloves if necessary.
  • The FibaPrint glossy papers will mark more easily with grease from your fingertips, so be extra careful with these papers.
  • Return unused paper to the original box and store flat. If storing the paper outside the original box, only use archival packaging.
  • Leave papers open to the air to fully dry for a few hours after printing, (24 hours are recommended) and avoid stacking on top of each other straight away.
  • Using a giclée varnish or spray will help protect your print further from damage, effects of UV light and environmental attack.

Whilst I'd agree with their comments, I think it's less fragile than other similarly finished papers.

The prints (semi-glazed) draped on the printer give a bit more of an impression of how the paper handles and how the prints 'feel' - you'll just have to try some to get a better impression ;-)

innova test prints

The image below (Bradgate Park - top entrance, Leicester, December), taken when first testing my 1Ds3 and 14mm lens, has a great deal of detail and dark colours in the shadows.

An A3+ print on the Semi-glazed paper really presents this well - enough that a visitor to the office remarked just how well it captured the look of the park at that time of year.

Bradgate Park top entrance, Leicester, December

Summary

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]

A solid and relatively robust pair of papers (for the paper type) that print a rich range of colours and superbly deep blacks.

Available from Innova and many distributors in a wide variety of sizes (up to 60" roll).

Needs custom profiles (at the moment) for colour on the 4880 (check the Innova site for latest profile availability).

Fine tuning of the Epson ABW print settings give very good black and white performance.

A personal health warning about paper reviews ;-)

I'm always a bit lost when I see comparative reviews of papers in some magazines that include a stack of spurious tables and diagrams covering various measurements about printer/paper/ink performance. Most are utterly meaningless (without -detailed- explanations of the theory and practice behind them).

I've written a bit more on this in the Blog: Paper reviews - a warning

Print choices are a personal thing - if you're just going to choose papers by numbers then I think you're slightly missing the point..

See also: Do your prints have 'Depth'?

Other related info

The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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