Monday, July 13, 2009


my current printer is an Epson 3800 but the issued discussed here also applied to my Canon 5000 I used until recently.

My normal gloss paper is Harman FBAL which produces wonderful images in 8.5X11. I have an order for two 17X22 prints and thought that paper this glossy behind ordinary glass might create a nightmare of reflections and wanted something with a bit more tooth. I thought I remembered Ilford Gold Silk as being like that and bravely purchased two 10 sheet boxes of 17X22 paper.

The texture isn't as much as I remembered and the gloss of the paper itself is quite low - net result is that prints show a large amount of gloss differential. Perhaps I'm unreasonable in wanting to not see this as I walk towards a wall mounted print but frankly I find the gloss differential a deal killer for me - back to the drawing boards. I went back to the store and got a refund on the unopened box and went to a second store to get some Moab Entrada Bright White, my previous standard display paper. Problem is, compared to the Gold Silk print, the image seems rather flat - the sense of the third dimension with the semi gloss Ilford paper is gone. It's odd - whatever tones I look at seem to have been reproduced similarly, yet when I look at large areas, the print just lacks that snap that has been described over the years, the parts of the image don't seem separate somehow.

Where do I go from here? I suspect the customer won't care or notice and would probably find the matte print easier to deal with but I notice and it bothers me. Prints made on Epson Semi Gloss Premium paper seem to have just the right amount of tooth for large prints, but the paper is so darn thin - if only they made a heavyweight equivalent.

I guess the paper battles continue, with no definitive answer in sight.


Anonymous said...

George. have you tried Epson Ultra Premium Glossy photo paper matted and mounted framed under a semi matte plexiglass? In Ontario, Curry's art store carries the plexiglass. It is UV protected, lighter than double diamond and semi matte.
Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I use the Galerie Fibre Silk paper printing from an Epson 3800 in both color and B&W. I haven't been bothered as much as you are about gloss differential, but I have seen a marked reduction when properly applying Printshield to a well dried and outgassed print. Another advantage of GFS for me is that I proof using Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte and the proofs and final print are very similar. I should also mention that I use GFS using a custom custom profile from Eric Chan.
Dave Thomas

donbga said...


I'm a bit surprised about your comments regarding Harman FG AL. The paper looks great behind glass. And I've found the gloss differential for both Harman FG AL and Ilford GFS to be very minimal and a non issue. I think you are over reacting to the surface qualities of the paper. There isn't any more gloss differential than you would find on a finely printed photography book.

Ink on paper will always have some physical differential. As Dave Thomas has pointed out a print sprayed with Printshield will greatly reduce the the gloss differential.

And for heavens sake purchasing 10 sheet boxes are much more expensive per sheet. Almost twice as much.

Finally I can also vouch for Eric Chan's profiles for the 3800 and 7800 printers. They are excellent.

Don Bryant

Edie Howe said...

I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "gloss differential". Would you explain?

George Barr said...

Gloss differential is the difference in amount of glossiness between the uninked paper and the inked. For example, both my 3800 and Canon 5000 use an ink that is quite a bit glossier than many semi gloss and quite a few gloss papers. The net result is that as you approach the image on the wall, you first see odd patterns of reflectivity on the surface of the print. As you get more in front of the print, this disappears. As Don said, this has been a "feature" of many printed books of images for years - even Lenswork Magazine which is pretty darn good. It's fine when you are hand holding small prints (or a book) but I object to it in prints that are on the wall (as do many others). It was never an issue with silver prints.


Jeff said...

Not sure if it would be glossy enough for you (in my experience none of the other 'fiber-gloss' papers are as glossy as Harman FBAL), but I really like the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Baryta, and can't say that I've noticed any gloss differential with it.