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Author Topic: Disappointed with matte paper: is it me?  (Read 7667 times)
walter.sk
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« on: December 03, 2011, 05:21:09 PM »
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I've been printing for close to 4 years with an HP Z3100 and now an Epson 4900.  I have a fine, well-calibrated monitor, used home-brew profiles on the HP printer, and have been using the Epson profiles for the 4900.  I'm quite adept at softproofing and using adjustment layers to bring the softproofed image back as close to the original as possible.  I have a Just Normlicht print viewer which is adjusted so that my prints show no surprises compared with the softproofed versions on my displayMy images usually cover the full tonal range with fairly well saturated color, and I have settled on Epson Luster and Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl for most of my prints and Canson Baryta Photographique and Ilford Gold Fiber Silk for exhibition and sales.  These papers do amazingly well for reproducing the full tonal range of my B&W images as well as the range and degree of saturation in my color images. All this to say that I know how to make prints.   

At the Photo Expo Plus exhibition this fall I looked closely at matte paper, and was impressed with the prints I saw there using Epson Hot and Cold Press papers, as well as matte papers of some other manufacturers.  What surprised me was that they seemed to have deep blacks and better contrast and saturation, so I picked up some sample packs to try out.  I was shocked when softproofing my images, in that for black and whites the contrast was reduced so much, and the blacks seemed much less dark on the B&W images, and the saturation and contrast on the color images were also very diminished compared with my non-matte papers mentioned above.  No amount of tweaking the softproofed images was able to bring back enough of the dynamic range of the B&W images or the contrast and saturation of the color images to satisfy me, and the prints simply verified that, matching my softproofed images.

Am I missing something?  Or were the sample prints I saw at the Photo Expo chosen with a limited range of blacks, and color that was carefully selected to maximize what the papers could do?  I know that if I picked some of my images that called for less contrast and saturation they would probably do well on the matte papers, but in my own test prints of full-range images the results were disappointing.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2011, 05:24:11 PM »
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You aren't missing anything. Most matte papers have much lower DMax and reflectance than the papers you are accustomed to using. This shock is normal once you are spoiled by Ilford Gold Fibre Silk or its similar media types.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2011, 06:36:52 PM by Mark D Segal » Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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afx
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2011, 05:47:57 PM »
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You aren't missing anything. Most matte papers have much lower DMax and reflectance than the papers you are accustomed to using. This shock is normal once you are spoiled by Ilford Gold Fibre Silk or its similar media types.
But then why do I see see more (or at least equal) contrast on Museo Textured Rag than on Hanemühle or Canson Baryta?

That was totally unexpected for me and I now settled on the Museo paper for all my BW stuff.

cheers
afx

« Last Edit: December 03, 2011, 06:37:34 PM by Mark D Segal » Logged

Mark D Segal
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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2011, 06:53:56 PM »
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I corrected a typo in my quote, from "Moat" to "Most".

I haven't worked with the paper you are using, so I can't answer your question. I said "most" and purposely avoided saying "all", because I've heard that one or more matte papers or near-matte papers have much improved DMax than available several years ago. To verify what your eyes are telling you, it may be useful to measure the maximum black and see what you really have.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2011, 07:36:39 PM »
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You have only one other alternative to bring "pop" back into a matte print and which was the same technique I had to implement as a graphics camera operator in order to add "pop" to B&W images in the newspaper business.

You have to increase perceived overall contrast starting with the base black shown in the Soft Proof preview which you've found can't be made darker/richer. Of course you must select the right Soft Proof settings (paper white/ink black) to give you an exact preview of the current level of contrast seen on the print you're trying to correct for.

It's just an optical trick that worked VERY convincingly as I adjusted exposure converting continuous tone B&W photos into 75 lpi halftone dot. The finished conversion looked grotesquely high contrast on glossy bright white RC paper but printed beautifully on dull newsprint.
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felix5616
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« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2011, 09:44:28 PM »
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I felt the same way until I tried Breathing Color Optica One 300. I just finished a 20' trial roll, 17" wide on a Z3200 44"PS printer. Deep lustrous blacks.
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gromit
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« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2011, 09:49:23 PM »
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Am I missing something?

Getting good results on glossy/lustre papers isn't hard because of their increased contrast and gamut, in other words you'll get acceptable output even if you're a novice and your profiles aren't great. For matte, it's more exacting. I suggest first lowering your monitor luminance and contrast. This way you won't be reliant on adjustment layers because the image displayed will already be a close match to paper output. Soft-proofing (with Simulate Black Ink) is pretty useless for matte papers and isn't required if your monitor luminance range already matches that of the paper. You should be able to get comparable results on matte to what you get on glossy/lustre with the only difference being dMax and depth in the shadows. (I realize this is contrary to accepted practice here, but try it to see if it works for you.)
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texshooter
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« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2011, 03:04:18 AM »
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the solution is not to print on matte paper.  if someone says he needs matte because he's framing it behind glass, then suggest to him not to use glass.  you wouldn't put glass in front of a painting, why do it for photographs. i think a little reflectivity on luster papers is more tolerable than the dullness of matte.  i notice younger photograpers agree with me more often than elders regarding the aesthetics of matte.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 03:05:59 AM by texshooter » Logged
pfigen
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« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2011, 03:29:55 AM »
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You never mentioned whether you switched to Matte Black ink or not for your prints. That will make a huge difference but the matte papers will never match the d-max of photo papers. I print a lot on Hahnemühle, Epson and other matte papers and while the measured d-max is lower, the perceived d-max is not a problem, that is, that blacks feel black, or at least, black enough. The softproofing for the matte papers is never as accurate perceptually than the photo papers and only rarely do I use full white and black compensation. What I see in a simple convert to profile is much closer to the actual print.
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geotzo
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« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2011, 03:47:59 AM »
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I have been printing a lot of BW and color landscapes as well as portraits on Epson Hot Press and Velvet,
with very nice results. Of course that "very nice" feeling it is a very subjective thing to say, but to me
especially the hot press media has beautiful blacks, even when I compare it with Hahnemuhle Baryta.
The Epson Velvet (similar to the old somerset velvet), is a different story. It does have a noticeable D-max drop,
but the smoothness of its tones on color seascapes, along with its unique texture, is something priceless.
I print those on both Epson 4900 and the new R3000, using matt black ink on both and Epson profiles. I also use Quad tone rip
for the BW prints.
Regards,
George   
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Damir
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« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2011, 04:45:36 AM »
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I use a lot of Matte Litho Realistic and blacks are just fantastic, overal contrast is somehow lower than on glossy or satin media but if you have a significant part of black only like black background in the studio it is unbeatable. Artistic B&W nude in studio is something that looks the best for me on that paper. A friend of my said that it looks like it is made by soot, machine is Z3100. The only problem is that surface is so sensitive that you see every touch of finger on it.

I use it a lot for color work also, main problem is to get saturated red, but for pictures that do not have histeric colors this is wonderfull paper. Price of paper is unbeatable in its class!
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2011, 07:17:42 AM »
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Getting good results on glossy/lustre papers isn't hard because of their increased contrast and gamut, in other words you'll get acceptable output even if you're a novice and your profiles aren't great. For matte, it's more exacting. I suggest first lowering your monitor luminance and contrast. This way you won't be reliant on adjustment layers because the image displayed will already be a close match to paper output. Soft-proofing (with Simulate Black Ink) is pretty useless for matte papers and isn't required if your monitor luminance range already matches that of the paper. You should be able to get comparable results on matte to what you get on glossy/lustre with the only difference being dMax and depth in the shadows. (I realize this is contrary to accepted practice here, but try it to see if it works for you.)

My experience with matte papers (lengthy before switching to Ilford Gold Fibre Silk as my standard) is that appropriate display luminance AND softproofing (with BPC and with Simulate Paper White) are BOTH essential to getting predictable results. More often than not a contrast boost with a Curves Adjustment layer is usually necessary.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2011, 07:37:48 AM »
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Matte was the obvious choice a few years back to make digital work, since glossy looked cheap and had various weird color problems.

There are some images for which Matte really is superior, but for most images we were just trying to find a way to come up with something sellable out of our digital workflows. Looking back, it is pretty amazing what we collectively accepted to settle for.

As predicted Matte lost ground very quickly when Baryta digital papers showed up.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #13 on: December 04, 2011, 09:12:51 AM »
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Matte was the obvious choice a few years back to make digital work, since glossy looked cheap and had various weird color problems.

There are some images for which Matte really is superior, but for most images we were just trying to find a way to come up with something sellable out of our digital workflows. Looking back, it is pretty amazing what we collectively accepted to settle for.

As predicted Matte lost ground very quickly when Baryta digital papers showed up.

Cheers,
Bernard


I agree with this completely. It replicates exactly my migration between matte and baryta. And as far as what one settles for - I wasn't prepared to settle for anything digital until Epson came up with a neat prosumer desktop solution to the print longevity issue - the Epson 2000P printer. Remember the great reviews it got? Well, I thought it was wonderful in its day too, but when I compare those prints made just 12 years ago with what I get from my 4900 and Ilford Gold Fibre Silk now - it's night and day; but we were happy back then! I like being spoiled by technical progress!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Kukulcan
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« Reply #14 on: December 04, 2011, 11:24:01 AM »
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Matte and Lustre/Glossy papers are simply different and you should exploit the different advantages they have. It's not wise to try a matte paper to look like a baryta one.

If you have a photo with high contrast, deep blacks, very vibrant colors, and you want to maximize in the print these attributes of the shot, then simply go with baryta, or the cheaper lustre and glossy papers, because these shots will probably look dull if printed on matte papers.

But matte papers, espacially the textured ones, may give a tridimensional sensation and a "no-photo" look that is hard to explain. Landscape shots with soft colors and limited contrast may look astonishingly real! The lack of glare is also another fundamental characteristic of matte papers and contributes much to the "real" look they have.

In my livingroom I have a couple of 60x40 cm matte prints on the walls and mounted on 5mm di-bond panel. People are always very impressed by the realistic look of that "strange material" (they think photos are printed directly on the aluminium panel...) and by the "no-photo" look of the image, probably because they are used to think to photos printed on cheap, plastic-look, minilab papers...

So try to print on the best matte papers (Hahnemuehle PhotoRag variants, and Epson above all, since the Epson profiles are the best possible match for your printer)  and do not choose the kind of photos that look great on baryta papers. I love both Canson Baryta and Hahnemuehle PR Bright White, but I simply use them for different photos.


Giuseppe

« Last Edit: December 04, 2011, 12:14:10 PM by Kukulcan » Logged
pikeys
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« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2011, 01:24:57 PM »
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Felix,
Is it better or at least comparable to Ilford Gold Fiber Silk.?
I've been looking at the breathing color paper you mentioned,for my Epson 3000.

Mike
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2011, 01:30:11 PM »
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Matte and Lustre/Glossy papers are simply different and you should exploit the different advantages they have. It's not wise to try a matte paper to look like a baryta one.

Giuseppe


I agree with this. You are raising a matter of taste. Some kinds of images may simply look better on matte than on glossier finishes, and the editing for print they get should be appropriate to the paper and subject matter. However, there is also a matter of measured performance. The DMax of a paper such as IGFS will vastly exceed that of most - if not all - matte papers, which is the issue Walter probably observed, leading to his original post.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Geoff Wittig
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« Reply #17 on: December 04, 2011, 05:44:40 PM »
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Walter-
It's all a matter of expectations and comparisons. I also printed on matte cotton rag papers back when I used an Epson 7600, because I really disliked the unpleasant bronzing and metamerism that printer and inkset demonstrated on glossier papers. I printed photographs that looked good on cotton rag paper: images with soft delicate tonalities and subtle colors. Some black & white photographs can look great on cotton rag paper, but not those that depend for impact on intense contrast and deep blacks. Since that time I've switched to baryta-type papers for the extra dynamic range for most of my work.

Really well printed photographs on cotton rag paper can look fabulous. And the complete absence of annoying reflections or gloss differential is great. But they will always look a bit pallid or weak when put side by side with photos printed on semigloss/baryta papers. I'm guessing you saw those matte 'demo' prints in isolation with no comparable prints on glossier stock to hold them against.
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Schewe
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2011, 06:11:20 PM »
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Am I missing something?

Yep...the difference between a D-Max of 1.7 for matte vs 2.6 for glossy based papers.

What you need to learn is how to both pick images for matte paper–softer less contrasty DR image work better and how to prep images intended for matte papers. Basically, learn how to use the matte paper palette. I'm presuming you are using the Matte K inks in the 4900, right?

In terms of prepping the image, what you need to regain is a lot of lost midtone contrast you loos with a 1.7 D-Max. White will be paper white and black will be max black ink. With a wide dynamic range image, everything in between gets compressed. You can use midtone contrast (also called local area contrast-Mike has an article about it) or dodging and burning areas to enhance the texture and detail of an image so it looks as good as it can on matte.

There really is a fundamental difference in the looks of both glossy and matte papers...some images can work on either but many images will look better on glossy because of the dynamic range the print can handle.
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AndyS
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2011, 04:29:47 AM »
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As others have said, in the end I think a lot of this comes down to taste. I've recently printed the image linked below on my 3800 on both Baryta and Photo Rag, and although compared side-by-side the Baryta has more 'pop', it is actually the matte print that I prefer - seems to have more 'dimensionality', and I personally prefer the lack of glare.

Ladybower Reservoir from Bamford Edge

Has Jeff has said, there are certain things you can do to help out the matte papers, but ultimately you need to decide as an artist which look you prefer for your images.
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