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Author Topic: Paper Review  (Read 15900 times)
Tony Klimo
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« on: September 05, 2006, 12:21:59 AM »
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Thank you Michael for posting Richard Lohmann's essay. Though, I am at loss for words.

I even consulted my callendar. It was still September. So, it was not an April's Fools joke.
We always had to contend with the technical nature of photography. But to atempt to fool mature and established artist with marketing hype is just way too funny!  

I hope they will be able to re-cycle or re-process the wearhouses full of these mentioned "fine art" papers for something more useful, like warhead casings in bombs and sold for good profit to starving third and second world nations. Can we all just weake-up from this collective nightmare?

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tbonanno
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« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2006, 01:47:21 AM »
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I also appreciate you posting Mr. Lohmann's essay Michael.  I had the same reaction when I tried Innova FibaPrint Gloss.   In spite of the things I liked about the dmax and tonality, the surface was a deal breaker.  I won't be using it.
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Tony Bonanno Photography
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pobrien3
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« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2006, 03:56:43 AM »
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I was so pleased to read this article.  After reading the recent rave reviews of Crane Museo and Innova FibaPrint, I struggled for many weeks to find somewhere to buy and try these papers.  In the end I found a UK mail order place who shipped them to me, so I had great expectations.

At first, I thought that my expectations were too high, and that others more experienced and successful than I couldn't be that wrong, but frankly I thought the papers fell way short of their stated mark.

So now I have two half-full boxes of these duds, and agree completely with Mr Lohmann - manufacturer's claims that these new papers rival the best that came out of the darkroom are greatly misleading.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 03:57:48 AM by pobrien3 » Logged
ansel aperture
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« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2006, 04:01:14 AM »
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I am another photographer who agrees wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in Richard Lohmann's essay on the new crop of wonder papers from companies who should know better.  Perhaps Richard could apply his expertise to testing Ilford Photo's new Gallerie paper designed for digital output via Lamba and Lightjet printers.  

I am based in England but the product I'm sure is (or will be) available in the US and Canada

Here a link for anyone who hasn't heard of it:-

http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/produc...+Papers+Digital

And thread on this subject on the Large Format Photography Forum:-

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/for...ead.php?t=19253
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AnselAperture
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« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2006, 06:37:02 AM »
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A good review and a timely cry of "The Emporer's not wearing any clothes!" When these new papers came out I was also caught up in the enthusiasm, however Richard Lohmann's points are well made, the surfaces are intrusive and we shouldn't kid ourselves otherwise.

However, let's keep things in perspective, this latest generation of papers is still a formidable stride in the right direction, offering a richer tonality than I've previously seen with an inkjet. I'm optimistic that the surfaces will be progressively refined with future papers, which will take us closer and closer to marrying the control of digital with the sumptious look of silver.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2006, 08:37:21 AM »
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I get two main points from Richard Lohmann's essay. First, it is clear that one cannot depend too heavily on reviews for a decision like which paper to use. His essay nicely balances the earlier raves, and tells me I need to test some of these papers and make my own choice (I suspect I will come pretty close to Lohmann's assessment.)

More subtly, I notice that while Crane and Innova get thoroughly roasted, Hahnemuele gets only a brief mention, and that suggests that it shows some promise. Perhaps HFAP represents at least a (small) step in the right direction and might be usable in the interim, while waiting for a serious silver-gelatin replacement.

I am one of those who has stayed with matte papers so far (generally displayed under glass), but with over forty years of darkroom work behind me I would love to find a paper that matched the best of the traditional black-and-white papers in surface.

I am optimistic that we are starting to see improvements in paper that are similar to the improvements in printers and inks that have happened over the past few years. If so, we may not have to wait too long.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 08:49:13 AM by EricM » Logged

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suttree
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2006, 08:58:22 AM »
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Mr. Lohmann states up front what he has a preference for, and these papers don't meet that expectation. It certainly doesn't help matters that the paper manufacturers trumpet the papers' qualities as equivalent to traditional fiber-based prints. It just heightens the offense.

My experience with the Crane paper is entirely the opposite. I don't find the surface of Crane Museo Silver Rag at all annoying (in fact, I'm fond of it), and nor do the people who have bought prints from me, and I love the tonal quality of the prints using the Epson 4800 (which even Mr. Lohmann admits are good). But I don't have a history with the traditional printing process, so I haven't developed an aesthetic that demands the qualities (note that I didn't say "quality") that that process provides.

Does that mean that next year another, better paper will come out and I will refuse to use it? Of course not.

Does that mean that his view is invalid? Of course not! The only point I'm really trying to make here is that there are those coming from the traditional printmaking process, and those of us that are not, and we have utterly different expectations. I'm happy with the Crane paper, I imagine that I would be even happier still with the Hahnemuhle FAP, and I suspect that next year or the year after I'll be happier still with the next batch of printers/papers that arrive.  I'm happy enough not to have to toil in a darkroom. I'm happy with incremental improvements. Do they occur any other way?

My guess is that in a few years digital printing will surpass every expectation placed upon it by the traditional printmaking process. Because I'm also certain that the people creating these printers, papers, and inks will not be satisfied with less than the best that they can create.
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Chris_T
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2006, 09:09:34 AM »
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Quote
I am one of those who has stayed with matte papers so far (generally displayed under glass), but with over forty years of darkroom work behind me I would love to find a paper that matched the best of the traditional black-and-white papers in surface.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

The following article describes the problems with matte paper pretty well:

[a href=\"http://daystarvisions.com/Docs/Rvws/EpsonPaper/pg1.html]http://daystarvisions.com/Docs/Rvws/EpsonPaper/pg1.html[/url]

But even with their shortcomings, I also stay with mattes for most of my color prints. I just cannot stand the other papers' surfaces.

The images that work well with matte papers tend to steer away from the problems. They tend to be without true blacks, or deep shadow details, or saturated colors. IOW, they hit the papers' "sweet spot". As examples, the images in Lohmann's article are stunning, but they don't have true blacks. I see lots of such digital prints, color or b/w, in galleries.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2006, 10:08:44 AM »
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Well, I don't have a wet darkroom background, and have never handled an air-dried fiber gloss darkroom print. So my impression of these new papers is from a different perspective than the author's. I think these new papers are a definite improvement over the RC alternatives, even if they're not perfect. I've evaluated the Crane Silver Rag and Innova F-Type so far, and I prefer the latter.

There does seem to a bit of surface variability with the Innova paper though; one of the boxes I got had noticely more "stippling" texture to use Reichman's description. The other boxes this was less pronounced and I prefer the smoother batches. But I find it's a really nice paper when I need the DMax and/or gamut of a semi-gloss paper. It seems to have less gloss differential than the Silver Rag, and the paper itself doesn't feel like posterboard.

I haven't looked at the Fine Art Pearl because descriptions in the comparison reviews I've read have it being smoother and "brighter" (almost bluish) compared to the other two so I don't think I'd like it as much.

I still prefer the rag papers when they suit the image type though, because the result is just really unique and it's something that sets the prints apart not only from traditional analog prints but also from what people can get from the photo lab.
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adiallo
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2006, 10:25:38 AM »
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While I agree that the marketing hype of "just like a darkroom paper" is overblown (btw my carton of orange juice says it prevents heart disease) I think it's worth noting that for many photographers there are other features which make these new papers desireable.
The ability to use photo K on a paper with decidedly superior longevity potential over RC offerings is one. And for most photographers without platinum printing experience, the move to a matte paper was a stretch from their notion of a photographic print. Others simply want higher DMax than rag papers allow. Compared with the rapid pace of development in capture, edit and display devices as well as ink formulations, these new papers represent uncommon advancement with regard to print media. Certainly not the end of the line (I hope) but it's nice to see the chains move every once and awhile.
Both Crane and Innova are currently producing stock with different surface texture characteristics (ie smoother) than the initail batches that were released. Perhaps the rush to market allowed for slips in QC, but this may help explain widely differing opinions on the surface.
I would finally like to amplify a point briefly alluded to in Richard's piece. One of the least helpful aspects of digital photography is that due to the technology involved, most consumers get their advice exclusively from marketing materials and company-sponsored "photo tours". Over time, as digital photography matures (we're talking about well under a decade of mainstream adoption) more standards and objective quantifications of products will emerge.
We must not lose sight of the art and craft of photography. No one product will ever be sufficient to allow for the expression of each and every photographers' creative vision on paper. And thank goodness for that. If we forget this from time to time I am less inclined to blame product marketing departments than the "magic bullet" mind-set we allow to take the focus away from where it should be--developiong our unique voice in this art.
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dbell
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2006, 11:07:47 AM »
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I'll agree that there's too much hype and that the vendors have gotten way too fast and loose with their wordsmithing. There's not much about Innova Fibaprint that reminds me of the F-surface papers I used in the darkroom. Similarly, Silver Rag is closer (in my mind) to  a lustre surface than to an "air-dried fibre print" or whatever the marketing claims.

That said, these papers ARE incremental improvements over what came before. I prefer either of them to any of the "RC" inkjet papers I've used or to struggling to get deep blacks out of MK ink on matte papers. Prior to using Fibaprint/Silver Rag, my standard for prints where I needed serious dynamic range was Pictorico Hi-Gloss White Film. I still use that paper, but it's nice to have other options for prints where a mirror-like surface is not appropriate. Silver Rag or Fibaprint are at least in the right idiom (I haven't tried Fine Art Pearl).

I agee with Mr. Lohmann that it's important that we not let our standards slip just because we're using a new or different technical approach. It's up to us to keep the pressure on the vendors to provide products that meet our needs.


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pobrien3
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2006, 11:38:45 AM »
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I'm the first to admit that overall I'm getting better prints digitally than I ever did in the darkroom, and that with the lower end of the printer market.  I'm also not  a fan of exclusive use of matt paper to avoid the problems inherent with ink printing on glossy media - the loss of gamut, contrast and D-Max for me, after many years of darkroom printing, is just not acceptable.  BTW I'm not a great lover of the high gloss surface - I find it distracting and often difficult to view properly due to reflections, but it's the only way to deliver the greater gamut and contrast. These are the reasons I have never bought a 'professional' printer, and nor will I until there exists a printer / ink / paper combination that delivers on this promise.

So when three reputable paper companies (backed by rave reviews from reputable artists) hype their latest offerings as rivalling and matching traditional fibre papers, I was excited at the prospect.  What a disappointment.

Eric made the point that printing technology and quality is improving all the time and that the direction is right - I agree with him and I share his confidence that we'll get there, hopefully soon.  In the meantime, the advertising claims of some of these paper manufacturers is nothing short of dishonest.  It's all very well dismissing their claims as inevitable overblown marketing hype, but this sort of misrepresentation is illegal in many countries.
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paulbk
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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2006, 11:39:28 AM »
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Over the last few weeks I’ve made several prints using Crane Silver Rag (13x19) from an Epson 4000 with a custom profile from CathysProfiles-dot-com. Very happy with the results. Borderline joyous! Crane’s factory profiles are crap. Must use a high quality custom printer profile.

I have the good fortune of no experience with traditional dark room processing. Life is so much more pleasant when you have not lost the privilege of naiveté.

paul

ps: I have also learned that a “less is more” approach to Photoshop is best.... for me.
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paul b. kramarchyk
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« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2006, 03:39:10 PM »
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Good article and I agree with the author and hope that photographers reject "just good enough"

An earlier poster suggested looking at the new Ilford digital paper, but because its a silver gelatin paper I'm sure that it would blast inkjet prints to hell... if you want something which looks like a silver gel print.

I just entered a competition using a paper available in the UK called Da Vinci Gloss Fibre, I suspect that its similar to the Crane paper.

I printed the photos using Quadtone RIP on an Epson 4000 and just printed with a few different profiles till I found one which looked good. No, not just good, pretty excellent. In terms of contrast, DMax and pure impact it blew the ones on Hahnemule Photo Rag out of the water... in a sense.

As I put the prints in the box to send off, I noticed that I wasn't really happy with the surface texture (and a little bronzing, though that really depends on viewing conditions).  I'll certainly try the Hahnemule alternative, it sounds like the best bet of the current crop of papers.

A though occurred to me looking at the prints. While the HPR print, lacked the depth and impact of the Da Vinci print, its a somewhat more honest medium.

When you put ink onto HPR, there is a clear relationship with ink based printing techniques like photogravure. Clearly there is a difference, but in a sense, its a valid form of ink based photo printing. In the case of these pseudo silver gelatin prints there is a sense in which they are pretending to be something which they are not... that makes it difficult to get them right.

But... I'm not so much of a purist that this bothers me. As long as the print looks beautiful, then I don't get fixated on how it was made. Lets just make sure that the manufacturers keep competing as I think that the next generation of both paper and inks might finally be as satisfying as more conventional materials.

My latest printer is an Epson R1800 and I have to say, this now pretty much surpasses most lab based resin coated colour printing. With the right post production and the gloss switched on these prints can have the impact of cibachromes. My only wish is that Epson bring out a printer capable of larger format output than A3+ with these inks.  

Its an exciting time for printing as its getting close. I currently exhibited 18 inkjet prints alongside 2 lightjet prints. No one was complaining about the printing.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2006, 03:40:22 PM by free1000 » Logged

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Tony Klimo
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« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2006, 06:50:44 PM »
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Hi,

What really made me respond to the essay posted was the credible point of view, this inkjet stuff is for the birds if you display them side by side to chemical prints.

These respected manufacturers want to sell the best and latest in inkjet paper coating, fine! But do not mix Fiber based and Ciba, the real stuff, not the RC alias, with these emerging technologies. Who are they kidding?

Unfortunatly if one wants to produce digital images, there are not very many commonly available off the shelf products to choose from. That is the number one problem. In my case the shipping charges through mail order is equal or higher than the actual paper cost...
Second, these new and improved papers are nearly obsolite by the time mass marketing occures.
It is true, one may be able to produce inkjet prints in a more "convinient way" than through wet chemistry...or is it???Clearly, what went before the latest inksets and paper coatings are useless as an artistic media since the latest and greatest is "superior" or is it?

Aside from the subjective opinions, the development and distribution cycle does not allow any credebility, following or "worship" and legend bulding to any part of the inkjet chain.

Can all this used for artistic expression, as the flavor of the month perhaps...

What I also object to is, a viewer should respond to the content of the image and to the harmony of technical delivery, therefore their acceptance of an injet print from an R1800 or R800 or the 4800 should not be used to vindicate the technology. Specially, using other historically established and credited materials and processes thrown in as a credible background.

I also wonder about the teachings of our masters, use the best possible materials to express your vision. So, who had thrown out this very sensable advice, when inkjet printing remains inferior in colour gamut and in use of B&W printing. Hiding inpurities with b&w inkjet printing with "toning" is not an artistic choice, it is a necessity.

TonyK
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2006, 06:59:22 PM »
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Honestly, I don't necessarily think we should be so hung up on the past that we define the ultimate inkjet paper as one that looks just like air-dried fiber prints. Why not aim for something even better?

Granted, the paper manufacturers are marketing these papers with those terms so I understand why people are disappointed when the papers don't live up to the marketing claims.

If nothing else these papers show that there is a market for fiber-base gloss inkjet papers, so even if the first three brands don't make everybody happy as far as the surface goes, somebody's bound to get it right as I'm sure we'll be seeing more manufacturers come out with their own versions. Just look at how many "rag" papers there are on the market, with different characteristics to suit different tastes.
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« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2006, 07:15:06 PM »
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Very interesting article and discussions, I was about to buy one of these papers to try them out on my Epson 4000...

I guess that this story raises several questions:

- To what extend does a paper match a printer? it seems that Michael did mostly use them on his new Canon,
- What is the amount of variation between paper batches? A similar question was raised but never answered about the Canon 5000's heads/inks,
- Are paper reviews online really useful? It is good to be informed about new stuff, but considering the above, what are the odds that you manage to get in the same conditions as the reviewer, or worse, that your taste and experience match?

The only reasonnable conclusion is that non pros that can afford to wait should probably not embark on using new product like these until months after their release. It seems better to wait until a reasonnable concensus emerges about the conditions in which these products should be used, and what can truly expect beyond the hype associated to new things.

Cheers,
Bernard
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« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2006, 07:51:29 PM »
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My personal experience with these papers includes only the Crane Museo Silver Rag and the Innova offering, printing on an Epson 4000. I was aware that bronzing would be a problem with its older UC inkset, and this has proven true. Bring on the Premier Art spray! This has mostly mitigated that issue.

Like others here I rejected the Crane paper due to its shirt-cardboard-like feel and its highly textured surface. It did have some mighty fine black density, however. It just felt plastick-y and cheap to me in an absolute sense, not in comparison with traditional silver papers.

I then tried the Innova and liked its surface better, enough to jump in with both feet on a box of 17x22 sheets. So I'm in for a pound! I have rethought that decision somewhat, because there does seem to be some inconsistency in the surface coating of this paper. It is smoother overall, but has linear imperfections that are annoying at times especially when they don't catch the ink properly.

Neither of these two inkjet papers puts me in mind of any of the traditional silver papers I've known and loved. I have tried to appreciate them for what they are and not constantly compare them with materials from another age. I'm committed to digital printing and have no nostalgia for the old days of hours hunched over an easel in the dark.

Definitely try before you buy, reviews be damned.
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michael sebastian
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« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2006, 08:35:45 PM »
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... What really made me respond to the essay posted was the credible point of view, this inkjet stuff is for the birds if you display them side by side to chemical prints...   ... therefore their acceptance of an injet print from an R1800 or R800 or the 4800 should not be used to vindicate the technology...[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=75619\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Tony, as a long-standing darkroom printer I have watched the development of the new printers with a very great deal of interest, and a couple of years ago decided to make the switch as I thought we had reached that inflection point where digital was starting to exceed film.  In my view we're not quite at the point where we can turn out completed pieces digitally to match the very best of darkroom printing made by a master printer (esp B&W), but we're darn close.  I am personally producing better prints from my consumer-grade printer than I did in the darkroom, with the caveat that the output material isn't up to scratch yet.

I'm not a master printer (but I was pretty good according to my mum  ), but I have digitally re-printed some of my old stuff and I can honestly say I've made significant improvements over every one of them.  Side by side the new ones look better - shame about the medium.

The thing that has got my bile rising is that these claims by the manufacturers were enthusiatically supported by respected reviewers and we were led to believe that the inevitable day had arrived.  No more matt v gloss arguments, no more ink-swapping madness - finally a paper that could truly match what we old-timing, grumpy old farts were used to.  If we were told that the new papers were an incremental improvement, a forward step on the road to this nirvana, then I'm sure we would be accepting them for what they are and there wouldn't be as much bad feeling.  We were told the journey was over, and it plainly isn't.
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2006, 09:14:43 PM »
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Nothing like a good lively discussion on the merits. Mr. Lohmann's informed skepticism is bracing in the face of industry hype. However, I would argue that he overstates the case for the æsthetic superiority of traditional gelatin silver printing over newer media. For color work, current inkjets clearly have reached a level of print quality exceeding that of traditional media. Compare the subtlety and depth of color available from a K-3 printer (or Canon's i5000) against any darkroom print. The Cibachrome/Ilfochrome process requires laborious contrast masking to avoid blocked up shadows, yet still produces a plasticky print that compares unfavorably (at least to my eye) to a well crafted print on Epson's premium luster paper. Pete Turner's retrospective exhibit now hanging at George Eastman House is entirely composed of Epson K3 prints on this paper, and it looks terrific.
Black and white is trickier, but even here there's a strong artistic case to be made for finely crafted inkjet prints. No, they're not identical to traditional silver gelatin prints. But do they serve the æsthetic needs of the image? I've seen some pretty shabby darkroom prints from master photographers, and plenty of gorgeous monochrome inkjet prints on both matte/fine art and glossy/semigloss surfaces. By all means, push manufacturers to come up with papers that better serve the needs of photographers. Yes, let's hold their feet to the fire when it comes to the hype. But let's not blind ourselves to new possibilities. Who knows? Some images may look great on Naugahyde.
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