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Innova Decor papers
Innova IFA-24 and IFA-25 (double sided)
We regularly use some fairly heavy Innova papers with our new Canon iPF8300 printer.
Whilst exploring new paper types and testing them on the printer, Innova sent us some samples of their new Décor range of papers.
In this short review I'm looking at the double sided version of a relatively light (220gsm) watercolour type art paper with a very slightly textured surface.
The paper is Innova Décor Smooth Art.
Innova papers are available from many other outlets internationally.
The review was carried out at the same time as our review of Innova IFA-13 Textured fine art
The paper is deliberately aimed at the more cost conscious market, but apart from being relatively thin, it looks fine for a range of uses such as posters or albums.
This from Innova:"Décor Smooth Art DS is a double side coated natural white inkjet coated watercolour paper designed for value orientated, high volume printmakers. The surface emulates a etching paper and is excellent for décor art and poster reproduction. The paper is compatible with dye and pigment ink systems giving excellent colour gamut, and is produced to archival standards."
Below right - a black and white test print
Key features are listed as:
It's available in a variety of sizes:
The double sided version I was looking at, is currently only available in cut sheets (check with Innova for latest details) A4, A3, A3+ and A2
The slightly thinner single sided version is available in a large range of 3" core roll paper sizes from 17" through to 60"
I note that if you can handle media on 6" cores, the single sided IFA24 is even available on 2000 metre rolls (a bit beyond the capacity of our iPF8300)
I decided to test it on the Canon iPF8300 for both colour and black and white performance.
The samples shown below are on the IFA-25 double sided media. The IFA-24 looks identical on the print side, but does feel more lightweight. Note the differences (thickness and weight) in the table above between what is essentially the same paper, but coated on one or two sides.
For the iPF8300 I created a custom media profile based on the Fine Art Photo setting and found that the Canon standard ink limits setting was just fine for this paper. This was based on the suggested settings from the Canon media config tool, although I note that Innova mention using Fine Art Textured.
My suspicion is that there is not a lot of difference between the Innova suggestion and the one I used, although for Epson and HP printers I'd suggest starting out with Innova's suggested media settings, particularly if you are using their ICC profiles.
It's not a big job to create a custom setting for the 8300, and it will often ensure slightly better results when making your own profiles.
As well as producing profiles for colour printing, I also produced a linearising QTR profile for use with the printer driver's B&W print mode (there is more about this in our 8300 usage notes page). This works just as well for Epson and HP B/W print modes - see our reviews of printers for more details.
I've just produced a range of local (Leicester, UK) prints for the new offices of a local business, so used some of these images that I've been working on.
I'd always suggest that you test papers with a good test image as well as some images of your own, when evaluating papers.
This makes it more likely to show up any problem areas. You also get used to how a particular image will look when printed. I find this helps both with soft proofing for colour work and paper choices for B/W, where I tend not to use soft proofing, once I have experience of how my test image looks on a particular paper.
I used my own B/W test image for the monochrome printing (article and download). It shows up a whole range of potential issues, and is my own personal standard for testing papers for B/W
As well as our usual test images (see the B/W and Datacolor ones on our test images page) I also used some of the evaluation options available when making profiles - something I hope to be writing about early next year.
Note the blue tower and sky - very good for checking some colours, but not others.
A paper has to look pretty good with a 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.
Here's the colour image
Then, on the other side of the paper, a black and white shot (One of the griffons in the fountain outside of Leicester Town Hall)
Double sided printing
The paper ideally needs a few minutes to dry between prints.
Do be wary of the paper curling slightly though if you leave it a bit too long. It seems that there is an optimum time (on this printer anyway) to leave the print, if you're not leaving it overnight to dry fully.
After a few minutes to dry, there were no marks on either printed side of the image, from having run the paper through the printer a second time.
The paper was easy to profile and produced results not dissimilar to other much heavier OBA free papers we use.
The very slightly textured finish suits some images better than others.
Whilst there were no colour printing problems, you do have to accept that colour images on matte papers will lack some of the punch you'd get from a lustre or gloss paper.
Even so, I know that some of my colour images look very nice on softer matte papers. Like many aspects of paper choice, it's a matter of personal taste.
For those who collect such figures, I noticed that the B/W print mode produced a maximum density of 1.65
As a relatively economic matt 'art paper', I'd wondered just how two images printed together might interact.
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.
Well, unless you go out of your way to shine light through the paper, there is relatively little impact from the image underneath.
I was left wondering just where I'd want to use such a paper in our own work, since we are not a high volume printer and concentrate more on the 'higher end' market.
Karen did suggest that double sided paper would be helpful for those who couldn't tell what side to print on, however I suspect that books and brochures would be a more fitting use. (see our short note about telling which side of the paper to print on)
The paper is a relatively new addition to Innova's branded range of papers - more info is available directly from Innova.
Comments/Questions? See this article's blog page
Article History - First published December 2010
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The views in this article represent those of Keith Cooper.
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