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Author Topic: Understanding Matte Papers  (Read 1601 times)
tsapiano
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« on: May 06, 2013, 10:41:49 AM »
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Since I got my Epson 2200, I've always stuck to photo black papers (mostly premium lustre) and never really tried out the matte black option.  Prints aren't really my product, just a means to sell images to publications so I never really did a whole lot of experimentation - just found what worked and stuck with it.  I did play with other semi-gloss papers, but switching black inks was enough of a PITA that I never really went that way.

At this point, however, I've got a few images that I'd like to print up for personal use and I think the texture of a matte paper might be beneficial.  I'm just trying to get a grip on the characteristics of this media, however, as they do look a good deal more complicated than what I'm used it.  As this is just for my own purposes, however, I'd rather not dump a pile of money on a dozen different papers and just play around - so I'm hoping to narrow down what I'm looking for.

Unfortunately, that's proven difficult to do as this is the sort of thing that is difficult to research.  Online reviews can't really show the nuances of the paper, and the stores around here don't really have samples to look at/feel.  Further, a lot of the newer Epson papers don't have explicit profiles for the older printers, so I can't even play around with soft proofing to see what they'll (roughly) look like.

As such, I was hoping to get your assistance in this matter as I have a few questions that I couldn't find answers to in my searches.  Naturally, some experimentation will certainly be necessary but I was hoping to get into the ballpark here.  Either way, if you guys could provide some guidance on the following points I'd be very appreciative!

  • Shadows and Saturated Colours - From what I have read, the matte papers don't tend to do as well as the coated papers when it comes to saturated colours and shadow detail.  I have, however, heard that a lot of that comes from advancements in photo black in the newer printers so that downside may not be as significant with a first-generation Ultrachrome printer.  From the looks of it, many people with the 2200 are nearly exclusively using Matte paper, so I'm hoping that the difference isn't as significant on that front?
  • Figuring out Settings & Profiles - Up until this point, I've exclusively used Epson's first-party papers with the printer as I figured that they were engineered to work together and that would produce the best results.  Unfortunately, Epson hasn't updated their drivers and profiles for the older printer in a long time, so it's difficult to tell what paper settings/profiles/etc. to use with new papers.  Aftermarket companies, however, appear to be very good at providing profiles and guidance on how to use their products with the 2200.  Naturally, once I settle on a paper or two I don't mind getting profiles made, but for this task that would be prohibitively expensive just to try out a potential stock.  As such, is there anywhere that you guys know of that can offer guidance on what settings/profiles to use with this printer and the newer Epson papers (Ultrasmooth, Hot/Cold Press, etc.)?  I've found a few third party sites that have canned profiles & settings for other Epson printers, but unfortunately nothing going back far enough for this printer.  Alternately, is there any downside in going to aftermarket options as they appear to have more explicit support that would make this easier?  It's especially frustrating as the fact sheet for papers like Ultrasmooth actually lists the 2200 as supported and says a profile is available, but I haven't been able to find it on their website and their support personnel couldn't either.
  • Paper Weight - While the 2200 can take very thick papers (IIRC 51 mils), another poster here mentioned that it was only designed for 260gsm papers.  Most of the stuff I'm looking here at is in the low 300s, so is that likely to pose a problem?  Several reviews on the main site here mention using Ultrasmooth with the 2200 so I'm hoping that means that similarly weighted papers will work with the printer.  Just want to make sure that I don't buy a pile of paper that I can't actually print on so I figured that I'd check.
  • Suggestions - Naturally, this is a difficult question to answer - but do you guys have a short list of suggested papers to try out at first?  Ideally I'd love to have a quiver of different specialized papers and choose exactly which one works best for an image, but as I'm just starting out with this form of media I'd appreciate some more general purpose options to get a feel for it.  If I stick to the Epson offerings it's not too difficult as things are clearly delineated, but when I start looking at aftermarket options there are so many of them it's hard to know where to start.  If I like the results I'll probably play around with a much wider variety, but at this juncture I'm just testing the waters.

Either way, thanks in advance for any assistance in this matter!
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hugowolf
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2013, 06:50:37 PM »
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I would start with sample packs from Canson-Infinity and Hahnemühle. There are lots of other excellent papers around, but it is easy to get bogged down with too many samples.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?atclk=Surface+Finish_Sample+Pack&ci=1118&N=4077634583+4246734230
http://www.itsupplies.com/Samples

I know you are in Canada and the links are US, but they will give you an idea of what is available.

Brian A
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tsapiano
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2013, 02:57:49 PM »
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Much appreciated - I'll take a look at those sample packages.  Thankfully they appear to be carried up here as well, so shouldn't be hard to get.

Anyone have any input on the other points?  Epson has a sample pack as well that I'd like to try against the aftermarket options, but I'm not entirely sure what settings/profiles I should be using with them (and with only two sheets of each, there's not a lot of room for experimentation).
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hugowolf
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« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2013, 08:31:42 PM »
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Much appreciated - I'll take a look at those sample packages.  Thankfully they appear to be carried up here as well, so shouldn't be hard to get.
The problem with Epson Signature sample pack is that you would have to get custom profiles made for you printer.

You talk about ‘after market papers’, but Epson doesn’t make paper. For example, Epson Fine Art Velvet is made by St Cuthbert’s Mill in Somerset England, as is their heavier weight 505 g/m² ‘Epson’ Somerset Velvet.

As far as Epson, Canon, and HP are concerned, they are all really all non-OEM papers.

Non OEM Ink is an entirely different issue.

Brian A
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tsapiano
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2013, 04:15:44 PM »
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The problem with Epson Signature sample pack is that you would have to get custom profiles made for you printer.

Yeah, was concerned about that.  Just figured that I could test them out with similar profiles for the time being and get one made for the stock that I liked best.

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You talk about ‘after market papers’, but Epson doesn’t make paper. For example, Epson Fine Art Velvet is made by St Cuthbert’s Mill in Somerset England, as is their heavier weight 505 g/m² ‘Epson’ Somerset Velvet.

I had heard they were made by other companies, but I figured that they were more involved in the process and actively engineered them to work well with their printers and inks.  If they're just re-branding other companies products, however, then there really is no benefit to sticking with their papers.  It would certainly be easier given the availability of profiles and detailed instructions for those other papers.  Thanks for the heads up on that front!

The only caveat with the other companies is that availability is a little more complicated.  Lots of stores list them as carried, but looking around it's proven more difficult to find anyone up here who actually has them in stock.  No sense in finding a good match in a sample pack and then not actually be able to get the larger sheets to actually make prints on.  I guess I can always special order them and/or import from B&H, but if at all possible I'd like to be able to buy what I need off the shelf locally.  Either way, lots more research to do I guess!
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Dale_Cotton2
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2013, 05:05:41 PM »
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Whoa. Blast from the distant past. Took me a few minutes to remember whether 2200 was indeed the model number of my first Epson inkjet. Yep. Gave me plenty of grief, but not nearly as much as the 4000.

Back when I did try to print with the 2200, I had no problem handling medium-weight/thickness papers, including Espon Velvet Fine Art; never tried anything heavier or thicker. Moab Entrada 190 Natural is the paper I'd recommend.

http://www.vistek.ca/store/PrinterPapers/218098/moab-paper-co-13x19-entrada-190gsm-natural-2-sided-fine-art-paper.aspx

May not have the absolute best numbers for Dmax and gamut, but it's getting close, has a beautiful art paper quality, a non-obtrusive texture, can be printed on both sides, is neither too thin nor too thick, and isn't nearly as expensive as some of the competition. Hahnemuhle Photo Rag would be an excellent alternative from all I've read, but looks to be more expensive. What both these papers have in common is that they're rag substrate, which makes them more flexible than wood pulp so easier for the printer to keep flat, and they're natural, or warm, white, so little or no OBAs, so in theory more archival.

Also, both manufacturers' sites still have the 2200 listed for profile support:
http://moabpaper.com/icc-profiles-downloads/epson/epson-stylus-photo-2200/
http://www.hahnemuehle.com/site/en/223/epson.html

> I'm just trying to get a grip on the characteristics of this media

Essentially, you're turning your photographs into watercolour paintings, in that the Dmax and gamut are very restrained, there is no reflective glare from paper sheen, and the paper texture becomes an integral part of the image. There is a slight loss of fine detail, but it isn't dramatic. Shadow detail isn't intrinsically a problem; the problem is that you lose the first 20 or so shades of grey on a 0 to 255 scale, as compared to only the first 5 or so for a good PK set up. This means you have to push any deep black detail distinctions up into the territory the ink can intrepret. A problem with shadows that can't be worked around is that the gamut falls off dramatically the darker you go. So much black ink has to be thrown at a dark area that other colours are overwhelmed.

Finally, You undoubtedly heard this before and don't want to hear it again, given printing is not a big thing for you, but the 2200 is not the printer to own for the long haul. First, the cost and frequency of changing for those 15 mil cartridges. Second, each unit was almost guaranteed to be a different profile microcosm from every other. Third, neutral B&W isn't a possibility from all I've read, unless you switch to a BW inkset. Upside: obviously your 2200 hasn't gone to clog heaven on you after all this time. IAC: strongly recommend upgrading to 3880, even if you have no intention of printing larger than 13x19. If memory serves, the original Ultrachrome had significantly poorer PK Dmax than Ultrachrome K3, but only slightly worse for MK. 3800 with current rebate is about $600 when you subtract the cost of all the ink in those nine 60 ml cartridges that come with the printer.

If you can settle down relatively quickly with a matte paper that works for you using the 2200, OK. But more likely you're just going to find you've fallen into a endless money-sucking labyrinth of test print, tweak, and re-test. In that case, the 3880 will save you money as well as grief over the medium to long haul.
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Mark Lindquist
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2013, 05:21:50 PM »
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I recommend Epson's Ultra Smooth Fine Art Paper.  If you can get their professional Matte paper (previously called Epson Enhanced Matte, I believe), use their canned profile and get your images to work with that first, then print on the Ultra Smooth Fine Art, then the Velvet, all using Epson's provided profiles.  Use a box of each and then if you like the results, have custom profiles for your printer made.  There will be a difference, but surprisingly it will not be way too significant if you manage to get acceptable results with the profiles Epson provides.  This is all experimental with the 2200.  That printer is definitely the "little Engine that thought it Could" - meaning that once you get everything dialed in, you can get some staggering prints with it.

If you want to just cut through all the bull, just change to PK ink and print on Ilford Fine Art Pearl.  That is the all time bullet-proof combination.  Absolutely stellar almost every time, unless you screw up, which is really hard to do with that printer, those inks and that paper.

But since your thread is about Matte papers, try out the Epson Ultra Smooth Fine Art like I said.  When you get that to work for you, you've won half the battle.

See if you can find some old Epson Enhanced Matte possibly on eBay or somewhere.  Use that for experiments.

I still have my 2200 - I just can't stand the idea of getting rid of it.  It was my first real printer, beyond an old Canon 24".  The Epson cranked out some amazing work - never let anyone tell you otherwise.  When you work hard at it, that little guy will reward you in turn.

-Mark
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tsapiano
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« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2013, 11:50:39 PM »
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Back when I did try to print with the 2200, I had no problem handling medium-weight/thickness papers, including Espon Velvet Fine Art; never tried anything heavier or thicker. Moab Entrada 190 Natural is the paper I'd recommend.

Thanks for the suggestion - I'll take a look at it!

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Essentially, you're turning your photographs into watercolour paintings, in that the Dmax and gamut are very restrained, there is no reflective glare from paper sheen, and the paper texture becomes an integral part of the image. There is a slight loss of fine detail, but it isn't dramatic. Shadow detail isn't intrinsically a problem; the problem is that you lose the first 20 or so shades of grey on a 0 to 255 scale, as compared to only the first 5 or so for a good PK set up. This means you have to push any deep black detail distinctions up into the territory the ink can intrepret. A problem with shadows that can't be worked around is that the gamut falls off dramatically the darker you go. So much black ink has to be thrown at a dark area that other colours are overwhelmed.

Thanks, that pretty well covers my concerns.  For the images at hand, none of that should be a huge problem although I certainly could see it being an issue for other images.

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Finally, You undoubtedly heard this before and don't want to hear it again, given printing is not a big thing for you, but the 2200 is not the printer to own for the long haul. First, the cost and frequency of changing for those 15 mil cartridges. Second, each unit was almost guaranteed to be a different profile microcosm from every other. Third, neutral B&W isn't a possibility from all I've read, unless you switch to a BW inkset. Upside: obviously your 2200 hasn't gone to clog heaven on you after all this time. IAC: strongly recommend upgrading to 3880, even if you have no intention of printing larger than 13x19. If memory serves, the original Ultrachrome had significantly poorer PK Dmax than Ultrachrome K3, but only slightly worse for MK. 3800 with current rebate is about $600 when you subtract the cost of all the ink in those nine 60 ml cartridges that come with the printer.

It's certainly been on my radar given the prices it's going for right now, so it's a tempting option.  For personal prints like this, the improvements from more modern inkset would be quite nice to have and being able to go bigger than 13" would be an asset for stuff that I'd like to frame.  The caveat is that the 2200 has treated me well, and (knock on wood) I haven't had any major problems with clogs.  I do have to clean the nozzles periodically, but I've been lucky enough to avoid stuborn ones like the horror stories I've read here (the most it's ever taken for me was two cycles).  While I don't sell prints from it, I do do a good amount of proofing with it so I imagine that it gets enough regular volume to avoid that.  The gamut and d-max are more than sufficient for those tasks and I don't really do much B&W stuff, so it's difficult for me to justify the capital outlay at this juncture.  If I were buying new, it'd definitely be a no brainer to go with it over the current 13" line, but as I've already got the 2200 the equation is a little different.

The one argument that could tip the scales is the economic one.  From a pure price per mL it doesn't seem that there is a huge difference there ($14 for 15mL (93c/mL) vs $65 for 80mL (81c/mL)).  From that point of view, it'd take about 62 3880 cartridges to cover the $600 cost of the printer.  At my rate of consumption, that would take a good amount of time to pay itself off with.  With that said, I imagine that that doesn't tell the whole picture as wastage is likely less acute (ie ink left in the tank when it says it's 'empty', having to replace 'low' carts early because a clean is necessary, etc.) when working with bigger carts so the numbers are probably better than that.  Unfortunately, calculating that sort of thing is pretty difficult to do from where I stand as there are a lot of variables that play into it but I'd certainly welcome any input on this matter.  Naturally, the 2200 is a bit of a PITA with having to change cartridges often so it would be nice to not have to run out to get more quite as often but that's harder to quantify.

I guess the other aspect is how long Epson is going to keep making the inks for the 2200, as at this point it's ancient in computer terms and while they are still readily available I don't know how long that will continue Wink

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If you can settle down relatively quickly with a matte paper that works for you using the 2200, OK. But more likely you're just going to find you've fallen into a endless money-sucking labyrinth of test print, tweak, and re-test. In that case, the 3880 will save you money as well as grief over the medium to long haul.

That's kind of what I was worried about.  The easy solution, as Mark points out, would be to just stick with the photo black papers and it'd certainly save me a good amount of trouble.  Was just hoping to expand my quiver of tools a bit, but it's obvious that this is a bit more complicated than I originally thought it would be so it will require a bit of consideration.  The 3880 would certainly get rid of a lot of complexities, but the original plan was just to grab one of the Epson matte papers and a matte black cartridge so that's a bit more expense than I was planning at the beginning of all of this Wink


I recommend Epson's Ultra Smooth Fine Art Paper.  If you can get their professional Matte paper (previously called Epson Enhanced Matte, I believe), use their canned profile and get your images to work with that first, then print on the Ultra Smooth Fine Art, then the Velvet, all using Epson's provided profiles.  Use a box of each and then if you like the results, have custom profiles for your printer made.  There will be a difference, but surprisingly it will not be way too significant if you manage to get acceptable results with the profiles Epson provides.  This is all experimental with the 2200.  That printer is definitely the "little Engine that thought it Could" - meaning that once you get everything dialed in, you can get some staggering prints with it.

I've actually got a box of letter sized Enhanced Matte already, so I might just do some experiments with that first and see how it works out.  I'm currently running the PK cartridge in the printer (have until this point printed primarily on Premium Luster) and was just hoping to get all of my ducks in a row first so that I can do the tests and final prints in a batch before switching back.

With respect to Ultrasmooth, after a good deal of digging I was able to find a profile for it on the 7600 on the Epson web site.  Naturally, while that printer uses the same inks the heads are different so would I still be better off using the 2200 profiles for different papers or would it do a better job?  Ultimately it would obviously need a custom profile to be 100%, but for testing purposes I'm not sure which approach would be better.

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If you want to just cut through all the bull, just change to PK ink and print on Ilford Fine Art Pearl.  That is the all time bullet-proof combination.  Absolutely stellar almost every time, unless you screw up, which is really hard to do with that printer, those inks and that paper.

I might end up doing that in the end, as it would certainly make for a good deal less work Wink  Just saw an opportunity to try out the half of the printer that I have yet to explore - now I just have to figure out if it's worth going down that road.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2013, 11:58:11 PM by tsapiano » Logged
hugowolf
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2013, 12:18:01 AM »
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With respect to Ultrasmooth, after a good deal of digging I was able to find a profile for it on the 7600 on the Epson web site.  Naturally, while that printer uses the same inks the heads are different so would I still be better off using the 2200 profiles for different papers or would it do a better job?  Ultimately it would obviously need a custom profile to be 100%, but for testing purposes I'm not sure which approach would be better.
I don't know about the 2200/7600, but I have been suprised by the difference between the profiles I have made for the 3880 compared to the 9890. Same ink set, but I cannot use the same profiles for both.

Brian A
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Mark Lindquist
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« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2013, 12:40:21 AM »
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Here are some links to profiles for the 2200 for you:  (You should be able to find PLENTY to work with)

http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/EditorialAnnouncement.jsp?oid=42114986

http://www.stcuthbertsmill.com/st-cuthberts-mill-icc-profiles/somerset-enhanced.asp

http://www.opusalbums.com/icc-profiles-for-epson-printers-2

http://www.conecolor.com/icc/Epson2200.html

http://moabpaper.com/icc-profiles-downloads/epson/epson-stylus-photo-2200/

http://www.centralcamera.com/pages.php?pageid=24

Also, I've attached 1  2200 profile - for enhanced Matte.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2013, 12:59:31 AM by Mark Lindquist » Logged
tsapiano
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2013, 11:03:03 AM »
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I don't know about the 2200/7600, but I have been suprised by the difference between the profiles I have made for the 3880 compared to the 9890. Same ink set, but I cannot use the same profiles for both.

Was worried that would be the case - will work under the assumption that wrong paper/right printer will work better than right paper/wrong printer.  With that said, I might try printing some test strips and see how it works.  If I do go with the Epson papers, what I'll probably do is sacrifice one sheet to do testing, and then just run it through the printer a few times with various different settings combos (ie print a 4x6" test patch, then just offset it on each successive print).  Did that all the time in the old wet darkroom days, just got spoiled by properly profiled printers and soft proofing being pretty good at nailing it on the first try.

Here are some links to profiles for the 2200 for you:  (You should be able to find PLENTY to work with)

Thanks, will take a look at those!
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