Canson Infinity, she’s French and fooled me into love again…

Whenever you hear talk about print quality, its almost always related to the printer and the image itself. Well, high quality printing absolutely has a lot to do with the printer in use, and whether the image file is of good quality, but what is at least as important is the media your printing to. The characteristics of the paper can help you set the right feeling you want for your image. The paper also has a color gamut to relate to, and in most cases the bigger the better(more on this later).

Through out my photographic carrier, I’ve used several different kinds of printers and I’ve been in close contact with the three major brands, HP, Epson and Canon (My current line of printers are the Pixma Pro-1 and the iPF 8400, both from Canon, I also have access to the iPF 6450 and 9400). In the beginning I mostly used paper made by the printer manufacturer of the current printer I was using + a lot of Ilford paper. Most of the prints I made was on coated plastic “paper” and it really didn’t matter too much if I used Ilford or any other media. In the end it all looked the same, and that’s not too far from the truth! Since then Ilford introduced their Gold Fibre Slik, and we started to see a great improvement in our prints. I was happy with this paper for quite some time, but moved on to Harman by Hahnemuehle’s Baryta paper, a paper I liked quite a lot.

But then, almost a year ago, I was introduced to Canson by Christian Moen, Canson’s Norwegian representative. He gave me a pack of 25 cut sheets of their Baryta paper which I tested and was quite happy with. Then what happened was that I was about to sell 10 BW prints in the size 40x50cm (15,7″x19,6″), and since I was all out of the paper I was used to and trusted I decided to give Canson a chance and went with this new(to me anyways) baryta paper of theirs. My client was really happy and of course so was I. This was the first time I got my eyes up for Canson, and pretty much the beginning of a new and great collaboration between Canson, Christian Moen and myself.

A few weeks ago Christian came to my studio bearing gifts. (Read that post here)

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This has given me the opportunity to do more than just print a couple of images and make a comment based on my personal opinion. The paper I was given has been tested extensively both visually and measured by a high-end device, a i1Publish Pro 2 by X-Rite. So far I have only had the time to test a few of the papers and I started with the following papers:

They are all great papers but the two who has surprised and impressed me the most are the Baryta and the Rag Photographique.

Let me start by talking briefly about the Rag Photographique. A paper available in both 210 gsm and 310 gsm. I’ve only tested the 210 gsm paper, and the only negative note I have is that I wish I’ve had the time to test the 310 gsm one too. Canson describe this paper like this:

Rag Photographique is a 100% cotton museum grade white Fine Art and photo paper. The exceptional smooth white tone is achieved during manufacturing by introducing natural minerals to the process. It has been developed to address the need for continued longevity requirements in the Digital Fine Art market. Rag Photographique offers a unique extra smooth surface with a sensual feel. It also provides one of the highest achievable Dmax currently available on the market, making it ideal for fine art photography as well as fine art printmaking.

Product Features & Benefits

• 100% Rag
• Compatible with pigmented and dye inks
• Dries instantly
• Water resistant
• No Optical Brightening Agents to ensure consistency of shades for generations
• Designed to meet galleries and museum longevity requirement sand respect the ISO 9706 standard:
– Internally buffered to resist gas fading and maximise the conservation of your prints
– Acid Free certified to avoid paper degradation

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This paper is probably one of the best matte papers I’ver printed on. Its smooth and holds the ink in an amazing way.

Ok, ok, over to what Ive been dying to tell you all about; Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique 310 gsm. Holy smokes what a paper!!! Please let me start by saying; this is THE paper on the market! This is the most awesome paper I’ve ever printet on… Did I say ever???

The tonality is remarkable, a Dmax of almost 2,7(on a Canon printer!) is nothing short of incredible. The texture of the paper is, well its there but not too much. Its not as glossy as Harman’s Baryta, and not as white (NO OBA!!). Compared to Hahnemuhle’s Baryta it’s more neutral, not as bright and not as glossy. The texture is smoother then the one on Hahnemuhles. Hahnemuhles also looks to have a little magenta cast in its paper, this again makes Canson look a bit greenish when compared side by side. Well, its not. No green cast what so ever says my spectrophotometer! This is really not a technical paper on paper (!) so all I can say is try it, you’ll love it!

Canson describe this awesome paper like this:

Baryta Photographique is a true Baryta paper developed for inkjet technology. It consists of an alpha-cellulose, acid-free pure white paper with the same barium sulphate coating as for traditional silver halide and a premium inkjet colour receiver layer. Baryta Photographique offers the look and aesthetic of the original darkroom baryta print and complies with the ISO 9706 standard for maximum longevity.
This museum grade photo paper shows excellent black density and great image sharpness, making it ideal for black and white photography.

Product Features and Benefits
• Optimised for pigmented inks
• Dries instantly
• Water-resistant
• Respects the ISO 9706 standard to guarantee maximum conservation of your prints:
– Internally buffered to resist gas fading and maximise the conservation of your prints
– Acid-free paper to avoid paper degradation.

Baryta 2296

Just in case you didn’t get it the first time; this is the most superb media ever!

After switching to Canon printers I’ve grown more fond of printing on matt media as well. The hassle of having to switch to matt black and throwing money out the window is gone, this and the fact that I’ve found a matt paper I really really like is like having found love all over again. This as you now understand was not a technical paper, but an article straight from the heart! (A technical paper will follow, where I also will include info on a third paper that have caught my eye, but which I haven’t had time to test thoroughly enough yet; Canson Platine Fibre Rag!)

Canson History:

Canson Infinity papers are manufactured by the world’s leading Fine Art Paper Mills, Canson and Arches, located in France. Canson was founded in 1557 and its illustrious history includes the prestigious appointment to Manufacture Royale in 1784 by Louis XVI and the invention of the Hot Air Balloon, made with Canson paper in 1782.
Canson is at the origin of many other inventions such as tracing paper, pulp dyes paper, fine textured vellum paper, nanking paper, and paper making techniques such as the continuous paper machine, paper sizing directly in the tank…
In 1865, Canson was granted a patent for a system that simplified the photo printing process and improved the quality of black tones whilst making it less expensive. This invention was rewarded at the International Photography Exhibition of 1892.

97 years later, back in 1989, began on an Arches watercolour paper at Nash Editions in Los Angeles. These pioneers of digital print reproduction selected this quality, as the world’s most celebrated artists had done for five hundred years before them.

The Arches Mill was founded in 1492 and through the years, the history of Arches has been closely linked to the history of France. Many literary milestones and works of art have been entrusted to Arches’ exquisite papers, such as Beaumarchais’ “The Complete Works of Voltaire” and Napoleon’s “The Description of Egypt”.

The unique qualities of these two premier paper mills and their products have been embraced by artists such as Picasso, Chagal, Warhol, Ingres, Miro and Alechinsky.They remain the standard for today’s artists.

Yeah, its not like they started last year…!

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-jr-

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