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lustre finish of printsPinnacle (Oyster) Lustre paper

A lustre finish paper from Paper Spectrum

The exhibition prints I produce are on a variety of quite expensive archival papers and often in limited editions, where I'm selling to a market that wants that little bit extra in their prints.

However I also produce many of my images in a more economic form that are used by interior designers for decorative art in commercial premisses (hotels, foyers, offices etc).

Note - this paper is now known as Pinnacle Lustre

This short review is about a 300gsm lustre finish paper, offered through a local supplier, Paper Spectrum in the UK

I've some notes on finding a local equivalent, if you're not in the UK, at the end of the review.

I was looking for a good quality paper, available in a variety of sizes, that would be good for colour images and black and white.

pinnacle Oyster- lustre paper

I use Epson enhanced matte for a lot of B/W prints. It's got a good finish and works very well with a lot of my images.

It's good for certain colour images too, but its limited gamut is restrictive.

Some assorted prints drying on the top of the piano...

test prints on my piano

If you've read some of my recent reviews you'll know I've looked at some fine papers with excellent finishes.

What was available for more economic printing? I often produce such images to custom sizes, so roll paper was an important option.

The papers were tested with three Epson printers here at Northlight Images, the 4880, 7880 and 2400.

About the paper

The paper is described as:

  • "A Heavyweight instant dry gloss paper with a special high quality ink receiver layer and double sided polyethlene coating giving photo realistic look and feel.
  • Resistant to cockling with good dimensional stability.
  • Brilliant white shade.
  • Ozone and UV absorbers offer protection from airborne and light deterioration, leading to excellent archival qualities."

I used the paper with Photo black (Pk) ink in all the printers.

It's currently available in 6"x4", 7"x5", A4, A3 and A3+ cut sheets and 25mtr rolls at 17" and 24".

For those of you with darkroom experience it feels like a fairly heavy RC paper.

Paper Specifications  
Thickness 287 ± 5
Weight g/m2 300 ± 7
PE-weight VS g/m2 17 ± 2
PE-weight RS g/m2 26 ± 2
Curl 23°, 50%RH mm 0 ± 8
Gloss (Dr.Lange) 60° % 15 ± 5
Colour Hunter UVI L= 93.7 ± 0.5
a= 0.3 ± 0.5
b= -7.6 ± 0.8 -this blueness indicates the OBAs
CIE Whiteness D65 110
Brightness D65 95
It's obvious from the paper colour that there is quite a bit of Optical Brightening Agent (OBA) in the paper.

It's important to remember that OBAs are not automatically a bad thing, it's what gives the paper its brilliant whiteness. The OBAs can fade over time leading to a (slight) yellowing. However mounting the prints behind glass and out of direct sunlight usually means it takes quite a long while before any visible deterioration, particularly with pigment inks, such as I use.

Using icc profiles

The suggested print setting (on Epson printers) is to use Premium Lustre or Premium Lustre (260) in some driver settings.

I tried a number of different settings (see the test print on the far right below) but found that although some other settings gave a more even print, the suggested ones gave the best shadow performance.

lustre finish of prints

For black and white printing, 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.

pacific sunset in OregonChoosing the Luster(260) setting and 'neutral' for the print, the shadows were fairly accurate, so much so that for the 4880 and 7880 I'd probably not bother with a linerarising profile.

It's still worth checking though, if you are using a different printer.

I created some profiles for the paper (2400, 4880 and 7880) using a 1728 patch A3 sized target, and the results were quite impressive.

Print Quality

I've shown the prints on the glossy top of my piano above (a Kawai KG-1 fyi ;-), to give better feel for the 'look' of the paper.

You can see that with pigment inks there is a slight gloss differential, although I took some care in lining up the shot above to maximise its visibility.

It's a very bright paper, which may not suit all tastes or images, but where appropriate, it does help give good depth to prints.

I do quite a few commercial decorative prints like the one to the right, that need bright vibrant colours, and I found this paper a useful option.

The paper was flat from the box and even after a couple of weeks laying round my office, the test prints showed no real curl.

The paper dries very rapidly and the surface was quite resistant to scuffing, certainly more so than some of the heavy fibre type papers I've looked at recently.

It's a paper that has the quality I need for my commercial print work.

Good profiles show the range of colours that modern ink sets can achieve very well on a print surface such as this.

Summary

A lustre finish photo paper that at 300gsm has a nice solid feel to it, and is capable of very fine results.

Available from Paper Spectrum in the UK (who will supply samples).

If you are outside of the UK, I'd say the most similar paper I've used would be the Canon 300 gsm 'Glacier' finish paper.

A spot of research with Google should be able to find various equivalents, just remember that there are only so many paper mills and so many specialist coating companies in the world - or email me ;-)

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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