Which paper for a newbie on the Epson 3800?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by russell_brooks, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. My background is that I've been using a Leica V35 enlarger to print B&W prints
    from 35mm. I've used the nice Agfa RC papers as well as their fibre based. Now
    I'm going to move to digital printing. Assuming I buy an Epson 3800 which paper
    (s) should I be looking at? It's all new to me and the array is confusing.
    Thanks for any advise.
  2. It's hard to find fault with Epson Premium Luster. It has a high DMax, reasonably smooth surface with little tendency to bronze. The surface is durable enough to withstand heat-mounting.

    Ilford Gallerie Smooth Pearl is another good paper, a little less expensive than Premium Luster but available in 50 sheet boxes. It tends to magenta compared to Premium Luster, but behaves well after being profiled with Eye One Photo.
  3. Depends on what look you want. Start with the Epson papers: the Premium Lustre, Velvet, and Matte. (The basic heavyweight matte is a suprisingly good all-around paper for cheap.) After that, I like the Hahnemuhle Rag; light on the texture, and they make it in a couple different weights and even a double-sided version. I don't do a lot of b&w, but I have seen some gorgeous b&w prints on Hahnemuhle Rag.
  4. I've long since standardized on matte surface papers. Epson Enhanced Matte is a good
    starting point ... yeah, I know someone is bound to pipe up and say that it yellows over
    time, but with B&W prints I like the way it ages. Color is another matter.

    In addition to that, I use Epson Velvet Fine Art, Hahnemühle Fine Art Photo Rag, and Moab
    Kayenta. Profiles are available for all of them that work pretty well, although I find the
    Hahnemühle profile is a little off the mark compared to the others. The Epson Velvet Fine
    Art is about my favorite of these papers: like the surface texture and consistency.

    I want to try some Crane Museo Silver Rag, however. ;-)

  5. Since you will be new to digital printing, cost will be key. You'll want to make many prints to experience the various alternatives. And you use paper fast compared to a wet darkroom. I'm talking about you probably making 100 prints in the first 4 or 5 nights. And you will still be learning at a rapid clip.

    I'm like Godfrey in preferring matte paper. I agree that the Epson Enhanced Matte is a good proofing paper and it's reasonably priced. US$15 for about 50 sheets.

    But you should also try glossy to see if you like that look. Ilford makes some very inexpensive consumer papers that are not bad. They are about US$20 for a 100 sheet box (8.5x11)

    Portriga Rapid and Brovira are great papers but not what you would want to use for your first wet darkroom experience. Same logic applies for inkjet papers.

    Also cut your paper into two pieces. Cut paper down to 8.5 x 5.5 if you are in the US. Or if you are European with logical paper sizes, buy A4 paper and cut it into A5. Do twice as many prints and you'll learn twice as fast.
  6. One more thought. The 3800 is reported to be a very good printer (I have a 2400 now) but it's a bit like buying a M7 or MP to decide if you like photography. You can buy a smaller frame low end Epson for 10% of the price and make prints that are 98% as good. If you really like digital printing, then you can buy the 3800. If it's not for you, you will have a lot less invested in finding that out.

    Like everything else in photography, you will find the results are overwhelmingly dependent on user skill, not hardware or materials.

    I have an exhibit hanging now that has all 20 b&w prints done with an Epson 890 that costs US$125 back five years ago. I chose that printer over the 2400 sitting next to it because the output matches the subject of the exhibit better.
  7. I don't have much experience with inkjet printing either but i went to inkjetart.com and ordered some of their sample packages.

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