(Please note this is a totally non-exhaustive and un-technical appreciation, and I’m not affiliated with Canson in any way)
For the past couple of years, I’ve searched and searched for an inkjet paper that gives me my ideal combination of print quality, longevity and tactility. I make prints for my portfolios and fine art editions, using my trusty Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer and Fotospeed’s Ultra 4K pigment inkset.
There are so many different papers on the market, a bewildering array of choice, particularly for a printer that works spectacularly well with both matte and gloss/lustre surfaces. However, each paper has its own qualities, in terms of how it feels to the touch, the way it renders details, levels of contrast and so on.
I’ve read loads of reviews and after progressing from Epson’s own lustre and glossy papers, which are a bit rubbery for my liking, tried a variety of baryta papers. These use barium-sulphate and have long been used in traditional photographic papers because of the smooth reflective coating they provide. For a while, I moved on to Hahnemühle’s Fine Art Pearl paper, but was constantly frustrated by the way it appears, fresh from the printer, like a crinkle cut chip. And believe me, I love chips with vinegar, but not when I’m making portfolio prints.
Things were further complicated by my attempts to profile various paper/ink combinations using Datacolor’s Spyder3Print SR – which I believe were further hindered by a bug in a version of Mac OS 10.6 that meant you couldn’t disable colour management, making it impossible to create a decent profile. At some point, something must have been rectified, as the process suddenly began to work, and now I can trip off a colour profile as neat as you please. But that’s another story.
So I was most interested when the website Luminous Landscape recently reviewed Canson Infinity’s Platine Fibre Rag paper. As the article explains – but I’ll summarise here – Platine Fibre Rag is rag fibre-based and contains no optical brighteners, which is apparently a Very Good Thing, especially for conservation purposes.
But the bit that really floated my boat was author Mark Dubovoy’s statement that “It puts all other fine papers I have tested to shame in terms of its proclivity to start out flat and stay flat”. Bingo!
I ordered a few boxes and was immediately impress with the chunky 310g/sq m weight and wonderful texture. It’s quite glossy, and uses the printer’s photo black ink. I made a few profiles and was pleasantly surprised by the prints I produced. And boy, were they flat!
I’m just using it to make some test prints for a mini fine art project and I’m absolutely delighted with the results. I’m confident that Platine Fibre Rag will be my paper of choice for quite some time. Which is usually a sign that the manufacturer will immediately discontinue it. Let’s hope not.