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innova fine art collection of papersInnova Cold Press Rough Textured Natural White

Innova IFA-13 - a short review

We regularly use several Innova papers for some of our large black and white and colour prints.

Choice of paper can have a big impact on how an image feels - one of the more important choices I make in the final presentation of my own work.

I often choose smooth surface papers, or those with a slight texture, such as the IFA-24, 25 I recently looked at.

During our recent testing of different papers for the new iPF8300 we've got at Northlight, Innova asked if I'd like to try a much heavier textured paper.

The paper is Innova IFA-13 Cold Press Rough Textured Natural White.

Innova papers are available from many other outlets internationally.

About the paper

The paper is quite stiff, and at 520 micron thickness, noticeably thicker than many other papers of similar weight.

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]

We were trying out a 36" roll of the paper.

This from Innova:

"Fourdrinier Acid Free Paper Museum quality
Innova rough-textured, has a natural white finish with a coarse structured surface equivalent to a traditional watercolour paper designed for high quality fine art & photographic reproduction and print applications with inkjet (giclée) technology. It is an acid free, single side coated media It is an archival quality paper with great colour gamut and accuracy."

paper textureRight - Texture compared to thin plain paper wrapping on the roll we tested. The photo emphasises the texture more than you'd notice in normal lighting.

Key features are listed as:


Note: figures are from Innova specification sheets IFA-13
GSM 315
Coating Type Matte
pH 7.5-9.5
Thickness (Microns) 520
Whiteness (CIE) 69
Brightness (D65) 99
Opacity -
Recyclable Yes

It's available in a variety of sizes:

available paper sizes

I decided to test it on the Canon iPF8300 for both colour and black and white performance.

ICC profiles and media settings

The paper was the thickest yet I've tried in the 8300, and it had no difficulty in handling the 520 micron paper from a 36" roll.

roll of innova ifa13 textured paper

The suggested media setting is Fine Art textured (for the Canon iPF x300 range), so I proceeded to create a custom media configuration for the paper, followed by a test target for creating a profile.

Here's a portion of the test target - look carefully and you can see some slight mottling in the darker areas of some colours.

test print showing uneven ink mottling

Here's a detail, showing the mottling, and more seriously, some bleed from high ink areas.

detail of ink bleed

I should have been quicker to spot this, but papers I'd been looking at of late all handled well at the suggested settings.

I should too have remembered the Media settings article I wrote some time ago on the importance of checking media settings...

The media tool for the x300 printers offers hints based on Weight (gsm) or Thickness.

520 micron thickness paper

You can also print out test patterns to compare different ink limits.

testing ink limits for media settings

Eventually, after quite a few tests I settled on a media setting based on Premium Matte Paper and the 'Low' ink limit setting.

This produced much less visible mottling and no bleed with the test targets.

I also discovered that the 520 micron paper was not good at going through my iSis spectrophotometer, so it was back to good old manual scanning with an i1 Pro (the roll paper would not lay flat on an i1 iO scan table)

measuring for icc profiling

Having a new printer and a big sample of paper to test is a great way to discover any foibles in profiling or printing, at a time you are not in a hurry to get a job out of the door.

I've not tried this paper on any other large printers, but considering the similarities I'm seeing between the smooth IFA-11 on both Epson and Canon printers, I'd suspect that similar care in media selection would be required on say, an Epson 9890 or 9900.

test print on thick paperPrint Quality

The results from test prints with a good colour test image, showed that although the lower ink limits might reduce the overall gamut somewhat, the paper was capable of getting good deep colours on our 8300.

  • We have a number of downloadable test images available for colour and monochrome. I always find it best to evaluate a new medium with a known image -before- working with your own images.

The paper is easily stiff enough for a roll print to comfortably stand on its end.

The 34" square print of Fall colours in the Cascades works well.

When creating the print file I took care to very specific in applying sharpening.

I restricted it to a few specific areas of the image and leaving the background to be further softened through the texture of the paper.

This was even more important with the image of a few Aspen leaves below, where perceptions of print sharpness can come from just one or two key areas.

The paper is a warm white, without any optical brighteners.

Whilst the roll paper is great for flexibility in print sizes (and shipping), I'd probably prefer to print on sheet paper, if the job allowed it.

second test print of leaves


The paper showed a few unusual features during profiling, that meant I had to be much more careful over ink limits (the maximum amounts of ink put down) than with other Innova papers I've tested.

The paper is quite stiff and thick, but showed no problems in the curved roll feed print path of the iPF8300.

The texture is very pronounced for this paper, and as such I'd personally have difficulty in selecting images that would look best on it, as opposed to my normal (warmer matte paper) preference for the smooth cotton natural white (IFA-11) or soft textured natural white (IFA-12)

For black and white images, the depth of blacks was similar to the other Innova papers I use, with the exception of the slight mottling of the surface if you put down too much ink.

This makes deep blacks look not quite as deep as they might seem from measurements, and appears to come from the dips and bumps in the surface acting almost like two slightly different paper surfaces.

paper texture - IFA-13For the data hungry, I measured the deepest blacks around Dmax 1.56 - typical for this sort of paper.

This is where the collections of numbers and graphs that you see with some reviews just fall down.

The whole essence of this paper -is- its texture, which either works or not for a particular image based on your own tastes.

As you can see to the right, in a more directly lit shot, the texture is more of semi-regular dimples, on a scale of a few millimetres.

I'm still looking for the image of mine that really yells out a need for printing on this paper.

At Northlight we don't do art reproduction, where I can see that watercolours might fit well with this paper. If you do try it out I'd appreciate hearing what you feel works best?

Looking at this paper actually made me think more about how surface texture worked for my own photos.

If you get the chance to try some samples, don't pass by the heavier papers with a richer surface - it might be just what your image needs.

The paper is available from Innova distributors worldwide.

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 have more technical details (and profiles) available on the Innova web site.

  • Note: We couldn't mention this at the time the review was originally published, but we used X-Rite's new i1 Profiler for creating our printer profiles - there is more info about this in our i1 Profiler printer profiling review

Questions / comments? Visit this review's blog article

Article History - First published January 2011

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The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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