Opinion needed: Best Rag paper for archival printing

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Geoff Wittig:
Quote from: Henry Goh

I wish to move to using rag-based archival media.  I have no experience yet with rag, using mostly Epson Premium Luster and Gloss papers.  I want to now use rag for better permanence.  Can you guys please share some of your findings because it is quite difficult to even buy such material where I am so experimenting is going to be tough.  Thanks a zillion.

As always, the best choice depends on the look you want.
First, cotton rag papers can be divided based on surface and recommended black ink type.

The traditional matte cotton rag 'fine art' paper like Somerset velvet, Epson ultrasmooth or Hahnemüle photo rag has a matte surface, with a wide range of texture choices from quite smooth to heavily textured watercolor papers. These use matte black inks. They'll have a relatively weak d-max compared to the Epson premium luster you've been using, and a reduced color gamut. On the other hand, they can provide a beautiful soft 'painterly' look to prints, and the surface texture can really work well with large prints, adding interest and apparent detail to things like snowy landscape. The matte surface means no troubling reflections, and when framed behind glass the mediocre d-max and gamut are not as apparent.

Newer cotton rag based papers with semigloss surfaces permit you to use photo black ink, with resulting improvement in d-max that can rival that of the plastic luster papers, while still using a cotton rag base. There's a bunch of them now, including Hahnemüle photo rag pearl and photo rag baryta, Crane's museo silver rag, Epson's exhibition fiber, Ilford's gold fiber silk, etc...

It makes sense to get a sample pack and try the most promising prospects with your own images, and once you decide on one or two you like, move on to actually printing your work. It's easy to get bogged down doing endless rounds of testing, just like perpetual test strips back in the darkroom days.

Henry Goh:
Quote from: jdoyle1713

The Majority of "Rag" Papers are for matte Black ink.. So Make your Choice..If you want Photo Black "Rag Papers"

There are several from Hahnemuhle & Museo Silver Rag!

Good Luck

Cheers
Jim Doyle
http://www.shadesofpaper.com


Thanks Jim.  Will check these out.

Henry Goh:
Quote from: JimGoshorn

I have been going through the same questions. For photo black ink and max purity you have Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta and Museo Silver Rag. For matte black ink there is a larger selection of papers but two to look at are Epson UltraSmooth and Museo Portfolio Rag. I haven't tried the Museo products yet but I have tried the Photo Rag Baryta and UltraSmooth and like both. The Epson Premium Luster and Enhanced Matte make good proof papers.


OK Jim.  Thanks for the tip.  Will have a look at them soon.

Henry Goh:
Quote from: Geoff Wittig

As always, the best choice depends on the look you want.
First, cotton rag papers can be divided based on surface and recommended black ink type.

The traditional matte cotton rag 'fine art' paper like Somerset velvet, Epson ultrasmooth or Hahnemüle photo rag has a matte surface, with a wide range of texture choices from quite smooth to heavily textured watercolor papers. These use matte black inks. They'll have a relatively weak d-max compared to the Epson premium luster you've been using, and a reduced color gamut. On the other hand, they can provide a beautiful soft 'painterly' look to prints, and the surface texture can really work well with large prints, adding interest and apparent detail to things like snowy landscape. The matte surface means no troubling reflections, and when framed behind glass the mediocre d-max and gamut are not as apparent.

Newer cotton rag based papers with semigloss surfaces permit you to use photo black ink, with resulting improvement in d-max that can rival that of the plastic luster papers, while still using a cotton rag base. There's a bunch of them now, including Hahnemüle photo rag pearl and photo rag baryta, Crane's museo silver rag, Epson's exhibition fiber, Ilford's gold fiber silk, etc...

It makes sense to get a sample pack and try the most promising prospects with your own images, and once you decide on one or two you like, move on to actually printing your work. It's easy to get bogged down doing endless rounds of testing, just like perpetual test strips back in the darkroom days.


Geoff very useful info all.  One question, when a rag paper uses only matt black, does it mean I replace the photoblack cartridge with a matte one?

sesshin:
I print fine art reproductions and have sampled every matte rag paper on the market while getting input from a number of artists on which ones they prefer. The paper I have settled on for the majority of my printing is Museo Portfolio Rag, which is 300gsm and smooth rag with no optical brighteners. Museo II and Museo Max are also very good, still with no optical brighteners and 365gsm instead of 300gsm, but a little more texture. Silver Rag has a semi-gloss finish, not matte, which doesn't always go well with fine art reproduction. Same with Hahn. Photo Rag Pearl & Baryta.

Other brands of matte rag paper without brighteners that are popular are Epson Ultrasmooth and Hahnemuhe Museum Etching. Neither have the dmax of Museo Portfolio Rag though.

If you choose to have brighteners in your paper you have quite a few more options (Espon Velvet Fine Art, Hahn Photo Rag, etc). While these papers may still technically be "archival" personally I wouldn't use any of them for prints that need to look the same now as 30 years from now.

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