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Gekko B&W Papers

Anyone who printed in the chemical darkroom and who now prints with an inkjet printer knows full well that the selection of papers that we currently have available far exceeds what we had back in the day. Not only is there greater variety, but in many cases the image quality possible is quite extraordinary, in terms of dMax as well as tonal differentiation. This is especially true as it's been decades since papers with high silver content, and the beauty that this offers, have been readily available.

The vast majority of inkjet paper makers have focused their attention on colour printing, and rightly so as this represents the vast majority of the marketplace. Similarly, printer makers have colour printing as their primary market, though Epson in particular has worked hard to provide us with printers and software that are able to produce optimum B&W quality in the form of their Enhanced B&W mode.

Now, Mitsubishi Imaging, through their Pictorico Inkjet Media division has created Gekko, a family of four new papers especially designed for monochrome printing. I have been using these papers now for a few months, and here are my brief observations. These comments are not technical in nature, simply my personal impressions after considerable print making.

All printing has been done with either an Epson 3800 or Epson 7900 printer in Enhanced B&W Mode. And, as Gekko is described as designed for B&W printing I have not bothered to profile these papers and print with them in colour, though I see little reason why these papers can not be used for colour work. My guess is that by targeting them for B&W, Pictorico has chosen a marketing strategy rather than one dictated by technology.


Trees and Fog. China, 2005
Canon 5D with 24-105mm lens @ ISO 100

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Gekko Green

Gekko Green is, in my opinion, the most interesting of these four papers. Its base is alpha cellulose and its finish is smooth, with a very light stipple. The weight is 14.2 mil. The paper has a very good dMax and is able to reproduce a wide range of tones in a very smooth manner.

My point of comparison is my current favourite paper, Ilford Galerie Gold Fiber Silk, and also a very similar paper, Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta. Compared to these two excellent papers, Gekko Green does very well. It doesn't have quite as refined a surface as FAB, but its lower sheen will be preferred by some people.

The Ilford paper is much warmer in tone, and therefore my personal preference for B&W printing, but that is a very personal preference, and may not be yours.

Overall there was a luminescence to Gekko Green that I quite liked and which reminded me favourably of a number of past silver gelatin papers. If you are nostalgic for that "look" this is definitely a paper worth your considering.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that Gekko Green is a Baryta based paper, which means that it does not have OBAs, something that will appeal to many photographers concerned about a paper's archival qualities.

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Gekko Red

This is a cotton rag paper designed for pigment inks only, with a medium weight of 18.9 mil. It has a moderate dMax and a very heavy stipple. Not my cup of tea, and I think you'll find that there are quite a few papers of this type from other manufacturers that you might prefer.

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Gekko Black

This may well be the ugliest printing paper that I've ever seen. At first I thought that I had accidentally printed on the wrong side of the paper, but no, the right side was what I'd printed on with quite nasty looking results. This is described as an RC type paper with a matte finish, designed for pigment inks, and not comparable with dye-based ink printers.

I was so surprised by how poor it looked that I made several prints, double checking all settings. In the end, it just turns out to be a poor paper, with a very low dMax and a smooth matte surface on a plastic base. Nothing to mourn.

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Gekko Blue

This is an RC surface paper with a luster type surface, suitable for printing with both pigment and dye-based inks. This paper has a very light stipple, which can be seen when the light reflects at a certain angle. Its weight is 11.4 mil, making it a mid-weight paper.

It's ability to reproduce a decent tonal range is quite good and the dMax seems quite high. If you like or need an RC surface paper with a silky smooth surface, this paper may be a good choice.

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Conclusion

It should be obvious from the above the Gekko Green is the only one of these four papers that I personally have adopted. Blue and Red are papers which may well appeal to some users, and I recommend that you try a sample pack if that type of finish is to your liking. Based on my tests though, I can't recommend Gekko Black.

March, 2009

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Concepts: Printing, Inkjet printer, Paper, Ink, Cotton paper, Printing press, Printer, Inkjet paper

Entities: dMax, Mitsubishi, cellulose, software, Michael Reichmann, Gekko Green, Gekko, Gekko Black, Epson, OBAs

Tags: paper, Gekko Green, printing, enhanced b&w mode, RC surface paper, light stipple, vast majority, colour printing, B&W printing, inkjet paper makers, ugliest printing paper, current favourite paper, dye-based inks, personal preference, cotton rag paper, RC type paper, Baryta based paper, silver gelatin papers, silky smooth surface, Pictorico Inkjet Media, Ilford paper, mid-weight paper, smooth matte surface, Epson 7900 printer, similar paper, optimum b&w quality, luster type surface, Ilford Galerie Gold, high silver content, considerable print making, moderate dMax, nasty looking results, decent tonal range, poor paper, good dMax, Hahnemuhle Fine Art, dye-based ink printers, excellent papers, low dMax, new papers