Printing papers are like wine, books, and movies. They are very much a matter of personal taste. One can describe objective characteristics of various papers, but ultimately it comes down to how an image looks to you when printed withyourimages, onyourprinter.
Canon 1Ds MKIII with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS @ ISO 100
Last September contributorRichard Lohmannreviewed here an exciting new baryta-based paper from Harman, calledHarman Gloss FB AI. He had considerable praise for it, and I also felt at the time that it was one of the most attractive papers that I had yet seen.
A few months later, after working with it and two other new papers,Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryta 325andIlford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk, I published a report titledBattle of The Barytas. In it I spoke very highly of all three papers, though in the end I personally ended up favouring the Ilford GFS, primarily due to its warmer colour and lower price.
Ilford GFS has been my standard paper now for some six months. I have almost completely stopped printing on rag papers, much preferring the higher dMax and more saturated colours of this new generation of papers. The only fly in the ointment has been that this paper has difficulty printing from rolls on the HP Z3100, because that printer doesn’t have a vacuum system and the paper is very curl resistant. On my other printers, Canon iPF6100, Epson 3800, 7800, and 11880, all that’s needed is to increase the platen gap slightly. The only other issue has been that because this paper has become so popular it is occasionally backordered from some suppliers.
Harman Gloss FB AI Warmtone
Now, Harman has introduced a new version of its Gloss FB AI paper, with a warm toned surface, calledHarman Gloss FB AI Warmtone. It is very similar to FB AI except that it does not contain optical brighteners (OBAs) which in part gives it its much warmer tonality.
Compared to FB AI, FB AI Warmtone, is – well, warmer. A lot warmer. While I ended up preferring Ilford GFS because it was warmer than FB AI, which I found to be too blue, FB AI Warmtone is considerably warmer than that. Putting the three side by side what I see is that FB AI looks blue, Ilford GFS looks relatively neutral, and FB AI Warmtone, looks (wait for the drum roll) – warm.
This is no bad thing. Quite the contrary. For many subjects its going to be a highly desirable paper, especially for my B&W work, where I tend to add a light platinum looking tint. When these images are printed on a warm toned paper as well it completes the "look" that I like .
For those of you with a background in B&W printing in the chemical darkroom, if you fondly rememberAgfa Portriga Rapidyou may want to give FB AI Warmtone a try. It’ll bring tears to your eyes.
This is, simply put, a lovely paper, which I expect to use in future for much of my B&W printing.
Harman FB Mp & FB Mp Warmtone
I won’t say much about these two papers since I don’t care for them for my own printing, and therefore have only made a few test / comparison prints. The reason isn’t due to any real failing of the papers themselves, just that the Gloss versions are so much richer in dMax and saturation, and so much more appealing in terms of both their physical "feel" and appearance, that all I can suggest is that if you have a large format Epson printer set for matte black ink, and want to try Harman paper, these will mean that you don’t need to go to the expense of swapping black inks to try them.
To try putting the Harman Mp look into words, these papers just have too flat and smooth a finish. They’re like upscaleEpson Enhanced Matte, or whatever Epson is calling that paper this year.
Inkpress Baryta Warm Tone
Inkpressis a brand that has been around for a while. They are not a paper marker, but rather a company that sources papers from well known mills around the world. One of their more recent offerings isInkpress Baryta Warm Tone, fromSihlin Germany.
Though I now prefer glossy (semi / satin / luster, whatever you want to call it) in Baryta fiber papers to matte finish, I found the Inkpress to be an attractive paper. Whereas the Harman Matte has a very smooth, almost featureless finish, the Inkpress has a slight texture that some find appealing.
I found the surface to be a bit sensitive to scuffing, more so than Harman, and roughly comparable in this regard to Ilford GFS, which tends to be a bit delicate, especially till it’s dried overnight.
I was not pleased to note though that this particular Inkpress paper did not come in any form of plastic bag within its cardboard box. This could spell trouble in damp climates and makes the paper appear to be somewhat less well presented than those from other companies. The corners of sheets in the box that I tried had started to curl. Given its premium pricing (see below), I found this to be a bit curious.
Checking prices onB&H Photo‘s web site I see the Harman papers, both gloss and matte, at between $3.50 and $4.25 a sheet in 13X19" size, depending on quality, and the Inkpress Baryta at about $3.75 a sheet; comparably priced.
It’s worth noting that Ilford Gold Fiber Silk, still my all-around favourite paper, is only $2.25 a sheet in that size; quite a bargain.