Selecting the appropriate photographic paper, whether it’s for business or personal use, can be a confusing endeavor. As an art student in the early 1970s, I had only two choices: traditional fiber-based (FB) printing paper or the resin-coated (RC) paper that washed and dried more quickly.
Class projects always had to be turned in on FB photo paper. The entire process—from exposing the papers under an enlarger; developing, fixing and rinsing them in wet baths; then hanging them in a dust-free room to dry—was a long and remarkable process that is rarely used anymore.
Today, traditional darkrooms have been replaced by inkjet, dye-sublimation and laser printers, commercial wet or dry minilabs and large-format roll printers—all designed to fit artistic and business needs.
Just as we have a variety of printer options, we also have a wide range of papers, most of which must be used with a compatible output device. The best source of information for matching the right printers with the right papers is the manufacturer. When in doubt, customers should contact the company’s technical support team.
Photographic Paper and Fine Art Papers
Headquartered in a new Melville, Long Island facility, Canon America offers both consumer and professional inkjet papers with high gloss, gloss, semigloss and matte photo finishes, as well as a professional paper line for fine art, portrait and wedding photography.
“Providing a wide range of versatile media support for our printers allows users to choose the best paper to create their masterpiece,” says Yuichi Ishizuka, president and COO, Canon USA, Inc.
The company added three Canon Premium Fine Art papers in October. Premium Fine Art Smooth paper separates the ink-receiving layers into color-reproduction and absorbing layers. This enables more pigment to remain on the paper surface, producing deeper, richer blacks. Premium Fine Art Bright White is a 100% cotton, acid-free inkjet paper with a bright white tone and smooth, silky surface, allowing for higher color consistency and gamut. Additionally, the third paper, Premium Polished Rag, is a semigloss, acid-free, 100% cotton-based paper with a bright white base. usa.canon.com
The company introduced a fine art inkjet paper, Infinity Baryta Prestige, at photokina last September. Baryta Prestige is a baryta paper with an acid-free, alpha-cellulose and cotton white paper base and barium sulfate coating—evoking the look and feel of traditional silver halide prints.
The paper has a limited gloss differential, high black optical density (Dmax) and a wide color gamut. It also provides excellent surface durability, image sharpness and lay-flat qualities, according to the company.
Canson Infinity papers are manufactured by the Canson paper mill in Annonay, France, which supplied some of the first albumen-coated papers to early photographic pioneers in the 1850s. Today, the company offers more than a dozen fine art papers, including canvas materials, rag papers and Canson Premium RC photo papers. canson-infinity.com
Museo Fine Art
Known for its 100% cotton archival papers, Museo introduced its first portrait paper in March 2016. Available in gloss as well as luster finishes, Museo Portrait is designed for wedding, portrait and school photographers who are transitioning from lab prints to inkjet printing. Furthermore, the instant dry resin coating produces vivid, true-to-life images that accurately reproduce the look and feel of traditional photographic paper, says the company. And the thick, 290-gsm paper gives prints a true photographic feel.
Museo Digital Fine Art media is a product of the Coveris Advanced Coatings Digital Imaging division, recently acquired by Dietzgen Corporation and headquartered in Tampa, Florida. It offers papers for professional, semiprofessional and prosumer photographers and artists, including Silver, Portfolio and Textured Rag paper, Museo Max and two-sided, prescored Museo Artist cards. Museo papers are optimized for use with pigmented inks to achieve true archival qualities.
Museo Digital Fine Art Coveris also produces Magic digital imaging media and inks for the wide-format printing market. museofineart.com
The company continues to offer a full range of traditional silver halide papers for RA-4
process (wet lab) printing. The Fujicolor Crystal Archive series has long been known for its excellent color reproduction and exceptional image stability, making it one of the most popular brands used by independent photo labs. Crystal Archive papers are each designed for specific applications—from portrait and wedding to fine art, commercial, display and consumer printing. Crystal Archive Supreme HD, originally introduced in 2008, features optimized silver halide crystals compatible with both laser and optical exposure systems.
The company also offers two lines of Fujifilm Quality dry photo papers for use with its Frontier dry minilabs. The two top-rated photo-base papers are Premium Plus Professional (five-star rating) and Premium Plus (four-star rating). Cast-coated papers include: Photo Quality for presentations (three-star rating) and regular photo paper for printing large quantities (two-star rating). fujifilmusa.com
Established in Germany in 1584, Hahnemühle is the oldest paper company represented here. Originally, it was a small manufacturer known for its handmade writing and foolscap papers. Today, the company manufactures high-quality papers for the photographic, art and graphics industries, including photographic inkjet papers with more than 40 different surface types.
The Hahnemühle Digital FineArt collection falls into three categories: Matt FineArt (smooth and textured), Glossy FineArt and Canvas FineArt (matt, glossy and metallic). The more recent Hahnemühle photo paper line includes a selection of PE-based papers with microporous inkjet coating and fine art printing qualities. These papers include Photo Silk Baryta, Photo Luster, Glossy, Pearl, Photo Canvas and Photo Matt Fibre. Each can be printed with either pigment or dye inks.
The company also recently introduced a black archival portfolio box. The cover is fine-textured 100% cotton, protected by an environmentally friendly acrylic coating. The box is made from acid-free, archival materials. Each limited edition portfolio box includes 50 sheets of Hahnemühle FineArt inkjet paper (Photo Rag 308, FineArt Baryta, or FineArt Baryta Satin); 50 acid-free glassine interleaf sheets; a certificate of authenticity; and also a pair of Hahnemühle gloves. hahnemuehle.com
Ilford offers classic black-and-white films as well as papers that helped set the standard for fine art, monochrome imaging throughout the twentieth century. In addition, in 2000, the company launched Galerie inkjet photo paper and media, which evolved into today’s Galerie Prestige line. Its paper options range from cotton rag to metallic gloss.
The newest Ilford paper is Galerie Prestige Washi Torinoko. The traditional Japanese Washi paper has a fine textured matt surface as well as Ilford inkjet coating.
“This beautiful new paper base is produced exclusively for Ilford on a traditional Japanese Tanmo machine in the Echizen area of Japan, an area that has been producing paper for over 1,500 years,” says Brenda K. Hipsher, brand manager at MAC Group.
“The superior Ilford inkjet coating produces a wide color gamut image that reproduces the digital file as closely as possible.” ilford.com
Moab by Legion
Moab expanded its range of premium, 100% cotton inkjet papers with a new offering, Moab Juniper Baryta Rag 305. It’s inspired by the fibrous Juniper trees of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.
Juniper Baryta Rag is a barium sulfate fiber, double-weight paper. Additionally, it offers the density of traditional fiber-base papers with a light glossy texture. In addition, it has a state-of-the-art coating.
Together, these elements help to enhance shadow detail and natural white highlights, without the need for optical brighteners. Juniper Baryta Rag is compatible with both dye and pigment inks.
The Moab by Legion brand represents the digital imaging arm of Legion Paper. Legion is the largest supplier of fine art, museum mounting board, decorative and also digital art papers in North America.
The company will be adding another paper, Moab Entrada Rag Textured, in early spring. moabpaper.com
Red River Paper
A 30-year-old paper company based in Dallas, Texas, Red River carries more than 30 different inkjet papers at wholesale direct pricing. The company imports inkjet media from paper mills around the world. It converts them to a wide range of sheet as well as roll sizes, adding special features available only through Red River.
Papers are categorized by texture, format as well as size. They are also all guaranteed to be compatible with Canon, Epson and HP brand inkjet printers.
Furthermore, its best sellers are its photographic satin and luster inkjet papers, with the look and feel of traditional photo lab luster papers. redriverpaper.com
Based in Alpharetta, Georgia, Unibind is best known for its photo book as well as presentation systems. Its most recent innovation, UniPaper, is a lay-flat paper for photo book applications.
UniPaper is specially treated to change the paper structure on the fold so it bends in both directions. As a result, the effect is a lay-flat presentation ideal for panoramic images in bound photo books. Eco-friendly UniPaper works for both inkjet and laser printers. unibind.com