Thursday, 5 June 2008

Testing inkjet papers to use with an Epson 4800

This posting is about how I test new inkjet papers for use on my Epson 4800 inkjet printer; in future postings I will go into what papers I currently use for my for B&W and colour printing. Since I only use gloss paper, partly because that is what people seem to like and partly to avoid having to switch between the Matt and Photo ink cartridges with all the ink loss that that incurs, I can only share my experience of printing on gloss papers. I also include sources for several printer test images available on the web.

I bought the Epson 4800 so that I would be able to print images onto all sizes from A4 up to 17” width roll paper. I want to be able to print B&W prints as well as colour and I have three basic print modes; Exhibition, draft/proofing and friends & family prints. The criteria for paper choice clearly vary considerably from Exhibition prints needing excellent quality and longevity, through draft/proofing prints needing to represent what the final exhibition print will look like as cheaply as possible, to friends & family prints looking about right first time at a sensible cost.

I have never been one to blindly use the papers that the manufacturers sell as they are almost never either the best quality or the best priced solution. So when I got the 4800 I got hold of samples of all the likely candidates available in the UK, along with any ICC profiles that were available to use with them. As new papers have come out that look interesting I have tried them out as well.

I am not going to go into technical aspects of paper properties such as Dmax etc as I do not have the test equipment nor do I really understand what the technical results mean! I am most interested in how the prints look – there are plenty of technical paper tests around the web and published in magazines. I tend to have a look at them before trying a new paper just to see what professional testers think of them.

I test a paper by printing out known test images and comparing them in the light that they are most likely to be viewed in with a library of competitor papers prints that I have created and keep stored out of the light.

Over the years I have accumulated several printer test files that I use to evaluate new papers. These represent a wide variety of images on one sheet of paper, for both B&W and colour images. I have also collected some specialist B&W images to use. If I like the test prints I then use some of my own “keepers” to finally decide whether I want to invest in a new paper or not.

There are quite a few printer test files available on-line and I have listed some below:

  • Multi image B&W and Colour from Neil Barstow

  • B&W multi image and tone gradient file from Northlight Images

  • Both a multi image B&W and Colour file and a B&W and toned images file from Marrutt

  • A B&W Tonal range printer test chart and a multi image colour file from Tim Grey

  • Three multi image B&W and Colour files from Imageplace

  • Multi image B&W and Colour from Digital Dog

  • Three multi image B&W and Colour files from InkJet Art

  • The printouts that I find give me the most information are the first two: the multi image B&W and Colour file from Neil Barstow and the B&W file from Northlight Images (both shown below). I also use the B&W tonal range file from Tim Grey to check likely shadow and highlight detail properties for a paper.

    Over the last two years I have tested dozens of gloss and semi-gloss/satin papers from manufacturers such as Permajet, Lyson, Fotospeed, Tetenal, Ilford, Harman, Epson, HP, Da Vinci, Olmec and Fuji as well a own label products from Costco (Kirkland), MX2 and 7dayshop etc etc, with prices ranging from 7p per A4 sheet to £1. You can pay a lot more, but I tend to research the cheapest source for papers (nearly always on-line) before trying a paper and I nearly always find widely varying pricing.

    I always leave the prints to dry for at least 24 hours to make sure that they are fully dry - I have noticed that some papers seem to have a magenta tint at first which disappears on drying and some also look "fuzzy" before drying.


    Unknown said...

    Hia Churchil,
    thanks for recommending our testimage to inkjet testers, we have some more testing processes for inkjet papers too. I'd also like to talk to you about getting better results from your Epson, it's something I have a lot of experience with if you'd be so kind as to get in touch.
    all best
    neil barstow [neilbarstow(AT)]

    cristmae said...

    Thank you everyone for sharing your experience.Epson is really the best and trust worthy products.Premium Luster Photo Paper

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