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Leicester clock tower at duskMuseo Silver Rag 300gsm semi-gloss cotton rag paper

Archival lustre finish paper - a short review

Canon, in the UK, are now supplying several Museo papers under the Oce brand.

These are available via normal Canon paper distributors.

Keith Cooper has been looking at Museo Max 250 and Museo Silver Rag. This article looks at Silver Rag - there is more detail about profiling and printer settings in the Museo Max article.

For UK information about the Museo range contact:

Canon (UK) - Wide Format Graphics Team
0800 623 623 or suppliesadmin@cuk.canon.co.uk
http://www.canon.co.uk/mediaguide

About the paper

Museo Silver Rag is a coated cotton rag paper, aimed at giving a similar 'feel' to fibre based photo papers.

The paper is optimised for pigment inks. It is internally buffered and completely OBA free.

This gives a warmish feel to the paper although this is only really obvious if placed next to a paper with brightening agents in it.

I'm testing a 24" width roll on our Canon iPF8300 44" paper, using Canon Lucia II inks.

The surface has a light texture, as shown in this oblique view of a profiling target, where sunlight is coming through a gap in the curtains behind.

The ink on the paper shows relatively little gloss differential and bronzing compared to many more glossy papers.

test print showing surface finish

Specifications

The following specifications are from Museo:

Note - I'd personally not call this a Watercolour texture, it feels a bit smoother - look at the photo above for a good impression of what it's like.

Sizes (as listed by Canon)

Available media sizes

Museo list sizes in a slightly clearer manner

museo media sizes

One minor 'glitch' with our 24" roll was the way that the start of the paper left an indentation mark for a couple of layers of the paper into the roll. Check this carefully with a new roll, since you could all too easily lose your first print.

marks on paper

ICC profiles and media settings

For our Canon iPF8300 printer I created a custom media profile, based on the Premium Gloss 280 media setting. Whilst Museo provide profiles, I do prefer to use my own, particularly since the Museo supplied custom media settings disable the B&W print mode for my iPF8300.

I found the Museo supplied ICC profile for my printer adequate, but distinctly lacking compared to my own custom profile (both my ICC profile and B&W linearising profile are available, on request, for non-commercial use - just email me)

After setting up the custom media type, I printed a test target for profiling (much larger than most people who sell custom profiles use). It's the sheet in the photo earlier on this page.

printing profiling target

A B&W test image is also printed to check the linearity of greyscale output.

black and white test print

This is then measured with a spectrophotometer.

measuring black and white print linearity

spectral reflectance graph for silver rag paperWhilst measuring the greyscale target, I note the spectral response (light grey - 10%).

  • The process involved is discussed at more length in the Museo Max 250 article.

This shows a distinct fall off in the blue and violet - no sign of any optical brighteners (OBAs) here.

One of the reasons I measure such curves is that I want to be able to print to predictable standards.

In this case I want a fairly linear output, so that for example, shadow detail doesn't get crunched up (unless I want it).

The graph below, is from creating a QTR linearising profile for the B&W print mode, for this paper.

It just shows the shadow part of the data.

The 'L' values show a very distinct flattening off as I try and print darker areas. We still reach an impressively deep black at 100%, but the curve suggests that we will see very little detail between 90% and 100%

crunched up shadows for black and white print mode

Looking at the test prints shows this only too clearly.

The one at the right is printed 'as-is' and shows the effect on all the shadow detail in this image.

comparison of different black and white prints

The left image uses my QTR correction profile.

You can use such profiles with any BW printing mode (such as ABW on Epson printers) by applying it before printing. You convert your image to the correction profile and then assign a colour space to it, such as Adobe98 - this produces an image that looks lighter, i.e. just what you want to correct for the overly dark 'as-is' print at the right [More info].

Some papers, such as the Museo Max 250 require a very modest correction, small enough that you might not choose to use it. Other papers need a fair amount of adjustment. Silver Rag is definitely in this second category if you want to experiment with the B&W print mode on the printer I'm using.

You could of course print your B&W prints via a very good colour profile or specialist software, but I was looking to keep solutions relatively simple for these tests.

However, once I'd got the profiles sorted out, it was time to see how 'real photos' looked.

High quality papers like this are never going to be cheap, so I always spend that bit extra time sorting out the media settings and profiling, to try and get the best results without needing lots of test prints for an image. Colour management for me, is more about getting things 'right first time more often' than any illusory chase for non existent perfection (YMMV ;-)

Print Quality

The prints have a lovely solid feel to them from the cotton rag base.

As you can see they flatten easily (I'm using a 24" width roll, on a 3" core).

assorted test prints on Museo Silver Rag paper

The strongly coloured skies are held very well in this set of five colour prints. The added depth and contrast compared to some versions printed on the matte Museo Max paper give a greatly increased feeling of depth.

The Silver rag is actually slightly less bright (90 vs 91) in the specifications than the Museo Max 250, but has deeper blacks (Dmax 2.56 vs 1.65) that give a higher contrast range and wider gamut. I know that the Canon Lucia II inks handle saturated reds and blues very well, and this is a paper that shows it.

strong blue sky in evening view of the clock tower in Leicester

The clock tower in Leicester (above) and new car park for the nearby Highcross shopping centre (below).

highcross car park building, Leicester

The two versions of the Wells chapter house steps below, show the overall feel of B&W prints.

black and white prints showing surface texture

They are a bit darker than the actual image below, since I'd exposed the shot to show the reflected highlights.

the sea of steps at wells cathedral

The image above works well on either a matte rag paper or the Silver Rag, however the deeper blacks of the Silver Rag give a much greater feeling of depth to the image below (a staircase in the Norman castle at Orford, in Suffolk).

staircase in Orford castle, Suffolk

The crisp detail in this view of the pier at Southwold really stands out in a print on Silver Rag.

The pier at Southwold, Suffolk

As ever, it's up to you to decide whether your images work with a particular paper.

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Silver Rag gives you very deep blacks (and colours), along with a bright warmish white that loses some of the harshness that you can get with many lustre papers, particularly if there is any UV around to 'light up' any OBAs in the paper or coating.

Whilst not as fragile as some papers, you should take care handling prints, since the surface will show dents and scratches if scraped (the paper showed no roller marks at all from our iPF8300).

Summary

Museo Silver Rag is a heavy 300gsm cotton rag paper, with a semi-gloss coating. The archival properties are enhanced though its lack of brighteners (OBAs) and cotton rag base.

Gives a superb 'darkroom' look to black and white prints, but far more consistently than I could ever manage when I had one...

Article History - First published April 2014

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