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Three Olmec Photo papers – review

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Three Olmec Photo photo papers reviewed

Photo Pearl Premium – OLM70
Photo Metallic Gloss – OLM71
Photo Metallic Lustre – OLM72


Keith recently reviewed the Epson SC-P600 A3+ pigment ink printer and took the opportunity to look at several recently announced papers in the Olmec range, now supplied by Innova.

We've reviews of many Innova products. See the Innova Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

three reflections

About the papers

The Olmec brand of papers has been quite well known in the UK for some time.

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]

It is now supplied by Innova, aimed at higher volume users than perhaps might be the case with Innova’s fine art papers which I regularly use here for some of our large fine art prints.

The Pearl Premium paper is a nice heavy 310gsm bright photo paper, whilst the two ‘metallic’ papers are 260gsm papers with a distinct blueish metallic sheen, broadly based on the Kodak Endura Metallic and Fujicolor Crystal Archive Digital Pearl papers.

The two metallic papers are quite odd looking with a distinct blueish glow – how would they look when printed?

Paper specifications

Photo Pearl Premium OLM70 Photo Metallic Gloss OLM71 Photo Metallic Lustre OLM72
Weight (GSM) 310 260 260
Base Material Resin Coated Resin Coated Resin Coated
Coating Type Microporous pearl Microporous gloss Microporous semi-gloss
Surface Texture Slightly textured pearl Smooth pearlescent gloss Pearlescent gloss
Thickness (Microns / inches) 299 / 0.012 267/ 0.011 267/ 0.011
Whiteness (CIE) 145 80 80
Brightness (TAPPI) 82 82
OBA content Yes No No
pH 7.5-9.5 7.5-9.5 7.5-9.5

When creating ICC profiles for the Epson SC-P600 I used the Epson Premium SemiGloss media setting with Photo (PK) ink.

media settings for printing

Available Sizes

Note – also available in US cut paper sizes

Roll Formats – 3″ core 44” 36” 24” 17”
Length 30m (71,72) 25m (70) n/a
Cut Sheets DIN (50’s) A2 A3+ A3 A4

For current availability, check the Olmec info at Innova.

Using ICC profiles

As I’ve mentioned, profiles are available for some printers, however you may still find it worthwhile getting a custom profile made. If you’ve an Epson SC-P600, then the profiles types used in the review are available for non commercial use on request.

The three profiling targets below show the brighter paper (OLM70). This is under tungsten lighting, any UV light (from daylight or fluorescent tubes) would exacerbate the difference, from its optical brighteners (OBAs)

comparison of colours of papers

The surface textures and metallic ‘glow’ show up in the reflections of a ceiling light (halogen ~3000K).

It’s sometimes known as geometric metamerism, where the colour of an object can vary with viewing angle – I’ve seen some pretty awful looking cars with this finish…

surface sheen compared

The pearl paper (OLM70) showing reflections.

surface reflections for OLM70 paper

I also created B&W linearising profiles for the ABW print mode of the SC-P600. For these, I measure step wedges from our standard B&W test print.

This oblique view of the paper shows up surface texture and purple glow very well (OLM72). It’s underexposed to capture the reflections, which are not nearly this obvious in normal use.

geometric metamerism on metallic paper

The measurement process also gives me spectral data, so for this plot (OLM70), the bump from the presence of OBAs is quite obvious.

spectral reflective response of paper showing presence of OBAs

Conversely, the very straight part of the spectrum in this plot (OLM72) shows the very flat white of the two metallic papers.

smooth spectral response of olmec metallic papers

The drop off in the violet is most likely from the diffuse reflection, that you can see below as the blue glow (OLM71).

Print Quality

The Pearl Premium is a nice solid paper, one that I’d be very happy to use for our commercial prints. These are often framed and to be found in numerous offices and reception areas. It’s good and stiff, something that makes handling larger prints (40″x40″) much easier after printing.

My first thought when looking at the two metallic papers was “why?” I couldn’t see why I’d use them.

However, after profiling and making a few test prints, the plain white from the lack of OBA’s produced some very nice quality prints.

The blue glow would be much more noticeable on high key shots, but as these two shots of Lincoln Cathedral show, that’s not a style I use very often (I don’t photograph weddings or portraits).

Two test prints mad on glossy paper

What images work well with these papers is very much a personal choice, but I’m glad I gave them a real try out with the SC-P600. You need to experiment to get a true feel for what ‘works’ for your images.

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]

Three new papers from the Olmec range, by Innova.

A solid weight photo pearl/lustre paper is good for general photo printing, where its stiffness helps in handling.

Two metallic papers are OBA free and a very neutral white, with a distinctive faint purple glow to specular reflections.

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